Schäferbarthold consolidates their IT tools on one platform with Mattermost
“Playbooks supports emergencies really well. Communication on problems is transparent and open, and we’re seeing much fewer requests by ticket or phone.”Jan-Peter Rusch Software Architect and Developer
Schäferbarthold GmbH is a wholesale company that sells car parts and accessories primarily for German and French automobile brands, including Mercedes Benz, Porsche, and BMW. A family-owned company founded in 1924 that sells products around the world, Schäferbarthold is headquartered in Porta Westfalica, Germany and has roughly 400 employees.
Needing a secure, self-hosted collaboration solution
In 2019, Jan-Peter Rusch, a software architect and developer at Schäferbarthold, began looking for a real-time communication tool. The company had been using Atlassian’s HipChat and Stride solutions but decided to move to a new solution when Slack announced they’d be decommissioning both services.
Since selling car parts involves preparing and processing huge amounts of data to make sure a part fits on a specific car, the Schäferbarthold shops still run on-prem infrastructure. With security and data protection concerns also an issue, Rusch and his team weren’t ready to move to the cloud just yet. So, they began looking for a solution that they could host themselves on-premises. The right solution would be highly secure, easy to administer, and available across web, desktop, and mobile.
During this search, Rusch came across Mattermost and “fell in love with it instantly,” he says. After introducing the developer collaboration platform to the rest of the IT team, the company rolled out Mattermost 5.0 in September 2019, and they haven’t looked back since.
Extending Mattermost with integrations
For Rusch, one of the main draws of Mattermost was the fact that the platform can serve as a single tool developers can use to orchestrate all of their workflows. This is due to Mattermost’s open source nature, as well as the platform’s Marketplace and Apps Framework, which make it easy to extend Mattermost.
“We’re heavy users of webhooks and integrations to the Atlassian stack, including Jira and Confluence,” Rusch says. “We’re always looking for ways to integrate more of our tools.”
In 2020, the company connected Mattermost to its legacy enterprise resource planning (ERP) system and internal business-to-business shop system. To help employees work more productively and speed up searches, they’ve introduced several custom slash commands, including /customer, /supplier, /parts search. The following year, Rusch and his team connected Mattermost to monitoring tools, including Icinga, Graylog, Grafana, and QuartzDesk. They also integrated Mattermost with Atlassian’s repository and build tools, Bitbucket and Bamboo.
Today, Schäferbarthold has about 90 users on Mattermost, including IT, sales, quality assurance, and logistics. The rest of the company uses Microsoft Teams — a decision IT had no say in, according to Rusch.
“We don’t want to use Teams because it doesn’t have the ease of integration with other tools,” Rusch explains. “I just got feedback from a coworker who said, ‘I want to stay with Mattermost. I’m so lost in Teams. It’s confusing.’ So, our IT team will stay with Mattermost.”
Recently, the company’s internet has gotten knocked offline for an extended period of time on two different occasions. With Mattermost powering internal communications, the company was able to keep operations humming along without skipping a beat.
“It saved us a lot of time over the last three months,” Rusch says.
Expanding their use case with Boards and Playbooks
After relying on Mattermost to stay connected during the COVID-19 pandemic, using Standup Raven for daily standups, Schäferbarthold introduced Boards, Mattermost’s Kanban-style project management tool, to the company in 2021. In addition to using Boards to manage work, Schäferbarthold is also using it to display availability in Confluence.
Additionally, the company is using Playbooks for incident response.
“Playbooks supports emergencies really well,” Rusch continues. “Communication on problems is transparent and open, and we’re seeing much fewer requests by ticket or phone. We also like the reminders that keep everyone involved up to date.”
Looking ahead, the Schäferbarthold team aims to further increase adoption across the organization. To this end, they’ve created their own user manual in German, and they’ve introduced the platform to procurement, shipping, and incoming goods teams. Since the platform is intuitive by design, Rusch has found that it’s easy to onboard untrained users, increasing adoption.
On top of this, the company plans to encourage more teams to use Boards and otherwise reduce the usage of tools outside of Mattermost. For example, they’re aiming to ditch Zoom and move to Calls, Mattermost’s voice, video, and screen-sharing tool.
Part of the reason Rusch and his team are such big fans of Mattermost is due to the responsiveness and helpfulness they’ve encountered from the Mattermost team over the years.
“We’re learning a lot from the Mattermost development teams,” Rusch says. “We truly value the Mattermost Handbook as a learning and education tool for our employees.”