A new approach to collaboration is taking one of the world’s most traditional drinks into the 21st century.

A pint, brewskis, cerveza, pivo: Call it what you will, with origins that date back nearly 8,000 years, beer is not just one of the world’s most commonly consumed drinks, it is also one of its most traditional. From ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia to modern Ireland and China, beer is truly a global citizen.

In no place is the beverage more embedded in the cultural zeitgeist than what is considered the beer capital of Europe: Germany.

Germany is the fifth-largest global producer of beer in the world (China being No. 1) and is the leader of the pack when it comes to European beer-producing countries. According to the Deutsche Brauer-Bund, the German Brewers’ Association, there were more than 1,500 active breweries in Germany and nearly 94 million hectoliters of beer sold in 2017. That is enough to fill more than 3,700 Olympic-sized swimming pools!

It’s clear Germans take their beer seriously.

Früh Kölsch is one of the three largest breweries in the Cologne region of Germany. Specializing in a regional beer known as Kölsch, Früh has been in the beer business for nearly 115 years. Starting as a small family operation, it has grown to 400 employees and now produces about 400,000 hectoliters of its signature Früh Kölsch annually from its brewing kettle for consumption in every country around the globe.

However, as the long-established brewery entered the 21st century, many of its processes had yet to embrace the digital transformation, especially those related to project management and collaboration.


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“Project management is difficult to do when you don’t have the right tools in place,” said Julian Kamp, head of IT at Früh. “Team projects are often more about firefighting than actual project progress. It’s like you’re doing one thing and in the middle of that, you get a call, forget what you were doing, and end up doing the original task wrong.”

With plans to launch a new, company-wide enterprise resource planning (ERP) system, Früh needed to find a way to update its workflows quickly. The company also needed a system that all employees and teams could adopt easily.

“I was looking for one solution to fix all of these problems around collaboration,” Kamp said, adding that he had described the challenges faced by Früh to friend and former colleague Martin Böhm, chief digital officer at Beiersdorf AG. “He told me, ‘Hey, look at Ruum. This is your solution.’”

Launched in 2016 by SAP employees Stefan Ritter and Florian Frey as part of SAP.iO Venture Studio, Ruum by SAP is an all-in-one project management and collaboration tool.

“Ruum aims to take all of the administrative and tedious work out of project management and to help teams achieve full collaboration in their work,” Ritter said. “In doing so, teams have total transparency in project progress, are accountable for their workload, and meet stakeholder and team goals without worrying about anything falling through the cracks.”

Taking Böhm’s advice, Kamp began integrating Ruum into work processes across the company and has seen stellar improvements in collaboration and productivity.

“Before Ruum, it was difficult to keep track of everything and inform all of the people involved in a project,” he said. “But now, all team members – internal and external – can inform themselves because all of the information is in one place.”

Citing the timeline and templates functions as some of the Früh team’s favorite Ruum features, Kamp emphasized the software’s ease of use and how it allows all team members to function as project managers regardless of experience.

“Ruum’s template function is perfect for frequently occurring projects because they are super intuitive and provide an easy-to-follow guide for those who have little or no experience with project management,” he said.

Although Ruum has only been part of the Früh IT ecosystem for four months, its impact has been felt in all corners of the company. According to Kamp, teams have reduced the amount of time they spend on administrative tasks by nearly 30 percent since implementation. This saved time has allowed them to focus less on following up on team tasks, and more on moving projects closer to the finish line.

“Collaboration is about fulfillment, keeping priorities, and keeping track of project status,” Kamp said. “Ruum lets us do that without losing sight of those goals.”

Say cheers — or “prost” for German-language speakers — to productivity and a fully collaborative workflow with Ruum by SAP. With timeline functions, task assignments, and an artificial intelligence-powered personal assistant for project management duties, Ruum is sure to make your workflow as easy as ordering a pint at the local pub.