In businesses with endless moving parts, keeping on top of the paperwork can be a challenge. An intuitive, easy-to-use documentation software like MeisterNote can help companies everywhere stay organized and productive. The German haulage company sim cargo was one of the first teams to experience the benefits of MeisterNote, using the tool to enhance internal knowledge sharing and reduce onboarding times for their new employees. Find out how they did it in this blog post.
Since its founding in 2020, sim cargo has successfully continued the activities of its founders – ILN and S.T.a.R. – in the market for groupage haulage. The company combines shipments from more than 260 small and medium-sized forwarders to create a pan-European logistics network that guarantees excellent services and production conditions. Managing a network of this size represents quite a challenge for the 50 or so employees in the firm’s two offices. In order to work effectively within the network, each partner must possess at least a basic understanding of how sim cargo’s system works in practice. As the company’s Niklas Thiebes and Julian Loth were to discover, getting the message across is not quite as simple as it sounds.
Using MeisterNote, sim cargo plans a radical overhaul of communication and collaboration methods throughout their partner network and within the company itself, starting with creation of an interactive company handbook. This is designed to speed up daily business and radically reduce onboarding time for new system partners and employees. Find out how MeisterNote is helping them achieve their goals.
The Challenge: Coordination
Having partners call HQ for what are essentially FAQs wastes everyone’s time and resources.
Niklas Thiebes, whose role at sim cargo encompasses both business development and information management, is familiar with the challenges of managing an ever-expanding network of system partners.
“There are so many of them, and the communication effort required to keep these companies working smoothly with sim cargo is enormous. A partner’s interaction with the entire system can break down if basic questions aren’t answered: What do I do if I can’t make a delivery? What do I do when the information given by the haulier isn’t accurate? While we do our best to provide answers in good time, having partners call HQ for what are essentially FAQs wastes everyone’s time and resources. It would be easier if they could find out this information independently.”
Following internal discussions, a decision was made to collate all the information that system partners need to know, then to present this in an accessible format – reducing the strain of direct communication with partners. However, assessing the need is only half the battle: the next step toward a knowledge sharing solution was to select a powerful documentation tool. Fortunately, help was soon at hand.
Find out some top tips for creating your team knowledge base in this blog post.
It’s a great mix: the type of tool we really need, delivered by a provider that we know and trust.
sim cargo was already a customer of MeisterTask, using the software to manage internal projects to great effect. In early 2021, they were pleased to receive a call from their Meister Customer Success Manager, who told them about a new documentation software that had just reached the beta development stage: MeisterNote.
“We’re Meister fans,” says Julian Loth, Project Manager for Software and IT development at sim cargo. “We just like the way things are presented in the tools, specifically MeisterTask, which offers excellent usability without the need for too much technical knowledge. When Meister told us about the beta release of MeisterNote, we were more than happy to give it a go. It’s a great mix: the type of tool we really need, delivered by a software provider that we know and trust.”
Building the Database
We can create informative content that is easy for people to navigate.
Although they are now well on the way towards building a sleek, easy-to-handle company handbook, MeisterNote was not the first tool that sim cargo tried. However, their previous attempts at creating a how-to guide led to some unsatisfactory results. Thiebes explains:
“With some effort, we did actually manage to get all the information down on paper. However this came in the form of a massive PDF handbook, which we gave out to partners all in one go. If you’re looking for a very specific piece of information – guidance on regulations, fines, etc. – a document of that nature would have to be incredibly well structured. Ours wasn’t. In the end, we reverted to word-of-mouth communication and the handbook was less influential than it could have been.”
The difficulties in integrating the company handbook into operative processes led sim cargo to a new idea: complementing the static document with a more dynamic internal wiki. Using MeisterNote’s block and note interlinking features, transforming the static text was surprisingly simple. Loth explains:
“MeisterNote lends itself well to the wiki format. Alongside the note interlinking and document structuring features, we find that we can create informative content that is easy for people to navigate. The content itself is a bit dry, but info boxes, icons, highlighting etc. help us to bring relevant information to the fore. Roles and permissions have helped greatly too: the handbook is currently being edited by a number of power users, but we can give others in the company access to selected data with view-only access.”
Three Months to Two Weeks: Reducing Onboarding Time
With MeisterNote, we hope to reduce the onboarding process to a neat two-week period.
In addition to increasing the efficiency of everyday business operations, especially the integration of new partners into the network, there was a further dimension that sim cargo needed to consider. As the company grows, new employees will join the company which in turn increases the need for efficient alignment within the team: the faster new hires can reach full productivity, the more value they will have to business processes. Julian Loth is confident that MeisterNote will play a key role in the architecture of a more streamlined future.
“I remember a conversation that occurred in one of our training sessions for new team members at the systems headquarters. One of the employees asked the question: ‘How long will it take us to fully understand the system?’ The answer was three months. Personally, I thought this sounded absurd, but in the present situation, it’s true. However, by consolidating all the need-to-know information in a presentable fashion with MeisterNote, we hope to reduce the onboarding process to a neat two-week period. The more efficient we can make the process, the more productive our team will become.”
There is also the question of travel. Although sim cargo’s locations in the heart of Germany (Homberg) and the easily accessible Rhine-region (Sinzig) mean that journeys to visit partners are shorter than they may otherwise have been, travel costs and efforts are significant. Face-to-face training is still a necessary step towards integrating new system partners, despite the trend towards virtual communication, and efficient documentation is vitally important in making these trips as productive as possible. Loth sees MeisterNote as a factor in keeping the partner management process under control.
“We still want to go and visit the companies in our supplier network, but we don’t want to burden ourselves with excessive travel time when it simply isn’t necessary. Staff turnover at some of our customers is something we need to consider too: whenever a new person joins a partner’s team, they’ll need to learn how the cooperation with sim cargo works. Therefore, having the information in an accessible format, which allows them to ‘learn as they go,’ is vital to a smooth transition.”
sim cargo has further ambitious plans for working with MeisterNote – namely the documentation of an ambitious software development project: FITs (Future IT sim cargo). The aim of the project, which kicked off at the beginning of 2021, is to single-handedly develop all the software components that are needed by partners in their work with the company: a colossal undertaking that requires intense knowledge of processes and meticulous documentation.
To this end, MeisterNote is an extremely valuable addition to sim cargo’s digital toolkit. FITs was a significant driver in the creation of sim cargo’s internal wiki with MeisterNote, while the tool’s features for project documentation offer plenty of scope for expansion.