Only a few symbols are as well-known world-wide as the Red Ribbon. It is the concise symbol of solidarity with HIV-positive and AIDS patients and also represents the battle against the immunodeficiency disease. Whoever wears it demonstrates awareness of the social problems that AIDS entails.
The registered association Deutsche AIDS-Hilfe e.V. (DAH – German Aids Support) is characterized by the Red Ribbon. The DAH is an umbrella association of about 130 organizations and facilities across Germany. It represents the interests of people with HIV/AIDS in public and with respect to politics, science and medical research. To achieve this, the federal branch in Berlin takes on tasks such as trainings, advanced trainings, skilled, committee, public and political work, as well as self-help support on a federal level. Each member organization performs this work primarily on a local, regional and national level.
Communication as the key to successful working
The approximately 500 full-time employees of the association deal with the diverse tasks with the support of about 5,000 volunteers. Dirk Hetzel is one of the longstanding employees at the federal branch in Berlin. As Advisor for Internet-Supported Prevention he realized that the full potential of the association can only be utilized if they communicate effectively.
In the past, there was only one option for reaching the many voluntary employees on a regular basis: the newsletter distributed by the umbrella association. However, this one-way communication was quickly no longer able to live up to the requirements of a modern organization: “Effective interaction with this was of course not possible. This had been a problem for us for some time,” states Mr. Hetzel.
And that’s why the qualified educationalist and social media manager took up the challenge of improving the collaboration of the voluntary and full-time employees. As well as networking the voluntary and full-time staff, there were two crucial goals: The facilitation of project-related group work with the aid of a social extranet and the establishment of a cross-associational knowledge management. The knowledge found across the entire association was to be used more effectively.
The long search for a suitable extranet solution...
They started with a comprehensive market analysis – the search for a suitable solution took almost one and a half years. Representatives from each member organization were also involved at this point: In workshops, the DAH was able to clarify what was actually needed and expected. Based on this, Dirk Hetzel and his team created a requirement specification against which the potential solutions had to be measured. The portal framework, Intrexx, with its integrated collaboration application, Intrexx Share, came out on top in the end.
The extensive market research was worth it, as Mr. Hetzel explains: “As soon as I became aware of Intrexx, I was immediately convinced. I had never seen anything like Intrexx Share. The intuitive interface and its high level of usability were the biggest arguments for us. And it’s worth it: We are yet to receive any application queries for it.” As well as its ease-of-use, the cost effectiveness in particular spoke for the product: “Other solutions were inflated and above all too expensive. The bottom line is, Intrexx is financially feasible, even for an organization like ourselves.”
... and then things started to happen very fast
The social intranet was set up in just 3 months from the decision to the go-live date. As advice for similar projects, Mr. Hetzel emphasizes the importance of clear coordination with the management and the association’s stakeholders: “Without their involvement, the introduction would probably not have gone so well.” Furthermore, designating key users in each member organization, who help promote the portal, proved to be successful.
The platform especially shows off its benefits when it comes to project-related group work. Thanks to the gathering of project members and the corresponding discussions and documents, it is particularly valuable. It was important for a large association such as the Deutsche AIDS Hilfe to be able to work together and exchange documents at a national level with the tool. The as yet 70 project and subject-specific groups are a perfect environment for this.
The self-help conference “Positive Begegnungen” (Positive Encounters), which takes place every other year, is a good example: A large amount of the preparations take place in the corresponding project group: “Our old extranet didn’t provide us with anything of the sort,” reports Mr. Hetzel and elaborates: “In the subject-specific groups, particular subject areas are discussed deliberately today.”
Knowledge on demand – with the integrated knowledge database
The communication platform is complemented by a knowledge database based on the wiki-principle. It is integrated directly. In this application, which was developed together with the Berlin-based software service provider City & Bits, key documents and information are collected, categorized and explained. Here, the employees and volunteers can find all of the important information with ease thanks to the full-text search.
However, there are also things that the DAH would do differently with a new project. For example, they didn’t have an automated tool for password recovery (User Self Service) at the beginning. “We soon regretted this due to the large number of users – and therefore added the desired feature quickly,” Mr. Hetzel admits.
Overall, he is very satisfied with how the portal is developing: “Intrexx enables us to collaborate across the association in an effective and straightforward manner. Colleagues, who regularly work with the group function, have already come to me and said: This is exactly what they’ve always wanted!”
Cross-associational and location-independent collaboration
Improved inclusion of volunteers
Intuitive operation and fast go-live
Simplified organization in digital project groups
Information is found and shared quickly
Deutsche AIDS-Hilfe e.V.
“Intrexx enables us to collaborate across the association in an effective and straightforward manner.”
Dirk Hetzel, Advisor for Internet-Supported Prevention, Deutsche AIDS-Hilfe e.V.