VR-Bank Würzburg: What The Meister Bundle Gives Them That MS Teams and Planner Can’t.
VR-Bank Würzburg: A Leading German Bank Driving Innovation.
Volksbank Raiffeisenbank (VR-Bank) Würzburg may have been founded over a century ago…but it’s anything but old-fashioned. Lean management, agile team processes and digital transformation ensure everything runs like clockwork for the bank’s 88,000+ customers.
At the helm of the Bavarian financial ship is Sebastian Kraft, Head of Bank Administration, IT and Digital Transformation. For the past 12 years, Sebastian has been at the forefront of IT leadership, overseeing smart data usage, organizational development, standardization, and process automation for over 30 branches and 350 employees. A topic high on Sebastian’s agenda since 2023 is change management. As the Chief Digital Transformation Officer, his latest goal is to enhance innovation across all bank functions, including revamping the digital communication infrastructure.
“Our goal is for VR-Bank Würzburg to be a leader in innovation, which has required us to reposition ourselves. Meister software has helped us to implement this digital transformation project quickly and easily.”
Head of Bank Administration, IT and Digital Transformation, VR-Bank Würzburg
The Challenge: “Even With Planner, To Do and Teams, There are Limits To Collaboration.”
Sebastian introduced MeisterTask and MindMeister to his team five years ago. They started with 50 Pro licenses – and since then, team collaboration has improved significantly.
“We now have 100 Meister business bundles in use – and the number is growing. These tools are essential for supporting agile project management and communication across the organization.”
As Heraclitus once poignantly said, “Nothing is as constant as change.” VR-Bank Würzburg is no stranger to the shifting tides of government regulations, which requires it to be both adaptable and highly organized. Within the next few years, all VR banks in Germany will have to switch from HCL Notes to Microsoft 365. VR-Bank Würzburg will be one of the first banks to move to Microsoft Teams and Outlook, and with it, tools such as Planner and To Do.
So, what does this mean for the Meister software that the team has come to rely on? One board member asked Sebastian:
“Do we even need the Meister bundle if we’re going to be paying for Microsoft 365 anyway?”
Because the bank knows a thing or two about saving money – and cutting “duplicate” software is an obvious way to reduce expenses – Sebastian needs a solid argument for keeping MeisterTask and MindMeister. He explains:
“Meister must continue to coexist alongside the Microsoft 365 tools at VR-Bank Würzburg – that’s what I’m fighting for. Microsoft Planner is not a MeisterTask replacement. If we switch from MeisterTask to Microsoft Planner, we lose more than just a nice interface. Without authorization controls, automations, reports, and project documentation, we lose team and project power – and in the worst case, we accumulate costs instead of saving them.”
“With Microsoft Planner, I’m also tied to the Teams structure, which is too restrictive for effective cross-functional collaboration.”
Sebastian is jointly responsible for authorization management, another critical topic in the organization. As a bank, VR-Bank Würzburg is subject to MaRisk (Minimum Requirements for Risk Management) from the German Federal Financial Supervisory Authority BaFin. Therefore, their IT service providers and software solutions must meet the highest security standards.
The Solution: “We Use Meister Software for Agile Project Management and Self-Management.”
If you ask Sebastian why he wants to continue using MeisterTask and MindMeister, even though the bank will be working in the Microsoft ecosystem, he has several reasons. One of the most important is usability.
“Even today, too few people think about usability. But Meister gets it right.”
Sebastian explains that before joining VR-Bank Würzburg, he worked in international management consulting and developed CRM systems for SAP. As such, he knows how vital usability is, and how it’s intrinsically connected to design.
“Meister is much cleaner, more beautiful and more intuitive. Tool adoption rates depend on usability!”
But in addition to the design and usability of a tool, there are other decision criteria to consider. Sebastian goes on to explain why Planner isn’t a practical solution for his team:
“Boards are always attached to a team in Planner. That means I can’t have any independent boards, which is where it starts to get tricky. As a bank, we’re subject to regulation, and we don’t have this “everyone sees everything” principle. Teams should only have access to the information they need. However, if colleagues from different teams want to work together on a project, Microsoft doesn’t make it easy. Always having to think about which team a project should be implemented in slows us down. In an agile, modern world, it’s not enough.”
For Sebastian, Agile project management and communication are necessary to become an “innovation bank.” For this reason, VR-Bank Würzburg will continue to use Meister software alongside MS Teams and Planner.
“In our team, Meister software is the go-to for executing anything relating to agile project management or self-organization. We have a quick brainstorming session using mind maps in MindMeister, and as soon as our ideas are more “concrete,” we create actionable tasks in MeisterTask which allows us to quickly put them into practice.”
VR-Bank Würzburg has mapped its entire project management process and methodology in Meister software. The project overview is created in MindMeister, which acts as a “one point of entry” or table of contents for the project. The mind map contains links to SharePoint files, MeisterTask Kanban boards, other mind maps, status reports and logs. With a clear and accessible starting point, the team can easily navigate through the project and all related materials.
“What really excites me is the flexibility of use. With Meister software, everyone can work the way they want. I’m a MeisterTask fan, for example. When I have an idea for an initiative, I first put it in a mind map. But as soon as it becomes more concrete, I create a project board. Some colleagues do it the other way around. All we specify are the formats, such as the project order templates. Everyone can choose how and in which tool the projects are then carried out according to their needs and preferences.”
Sebastian would also like to see this flexibility from Microsoft. It’s why Meister software is so well received and accepted throughout the entire organization, right up to the Management Board.
“The Management Board and I even prefer to work in the MeisterTask app on iPad rather than desktop. The usability of the tool is excellent – and it’s fast.”
Sebastian is familiar with the broader productivity tool market, including Trello, ClickUp and the like. However, a key reason for choosing Meister over competitors is security. Meister is strictly GDPR-compliant – essential for a bank like VR-Bank Würzburg. And, the fact that the tool is intuitive and based in Germany was also a decisive factor for Sebastian and his team. “Bring your own device” is a no-go at the bank…but VR-Bank Würzburg’s Data Protection Officer has classified MeisterTask and MindMeister apps as secure enough for employees to use them on their own devices.
“We have approval from the auditing association to upload confidential data to the apps. This makes work easier because you don’t have to think twice when you upload a sensitive file to a task or project.”
This is precisely why Sebastian opted for the Business licenses (instead of Pro). The guest role is a crucial function for secure, flexible collaboration with external parties. It also saves time – everyone can work together on the same board and no additional boards need to be created.
Even though team management at VR-Bank Würzburg will be handled via MS Teams in the future, Sebastian sees limitations of Teams and Planner in regards to self-management.
“I can’t have a personal ‘Sebastian Kraft Kanban’ in MS Teams. However, as my colleagues and I organize our workflows exclusively via Kanban, a personal MeisterTask Kanban board is essential.”
The ability to create tasks and communicate on the go in the MeisterTask mobile app is a huge benefit for Sebastian and the team. The Management Board is also enthusiastic about this flexible way of working as it ensures timely and uninterrupted project communication.
Similarly, creating tasks directly from emails via a MeisterTask integration helps Sebastian work efficiently from anywhere. Instead of sending a task to five colleagues via email, Sebastian follows up on action points by creating a task on the relevant project board in MeisterTask. This way, he avoids information getting lost in email chains, or team members being accidentally missed from CC. In MeisterTask, task details are centralized in one place and the team can use @ mentions to inform stakeholders of updates.
“I love sending emails to my MeisterTask project board. It makes working through my tasks much quicker. I can see the task history, add tags, and move the task to the right section on the board for a clear overview. I add all the relevant watchers to the task, which means everyone spends less time in their inbox sorting through emails.”
The Outcome: 100% Transparency, Greater Project Clarity – And Efficient Agile Project Management.
Ask Sebastian what the greatest advantage of using Meister software is, and he’ll tell you it lies in the daily, intensive use across all departments:
“For me, the greatest achievement is getting the entire company and Management Board using the software cohesively. Now they say they can’t imagine working any other way.”
Seamless, asynchronous and efficient documentation is another positive result of working with Meister software.
“We have 100% more transparency in our projects. Nothing slips through the cracks anymore, we’re always up-to-date, and everything is clearly documented. We spend less time communicating project details because all updates and task-related conversations are visible in MeisterTask.”
When Sebastian reflects on the company’s meeting culture, another advantage comes to mind:
“Thanks to MeisterTask and MindMeister, everyone leaves meetings with clear to-dos and concrete results. These are immediately documented for everyone to read and refer back to.”
This structured way of working makes it possible for Sebastian to work on multiple tasks at the same time – without losing track.
“Thanks to Meister tools, we’ve streamlined and structured our work so it’s easy to maintain an overview and collaborate efficiently. Thanks to MeisterTask and MindMeister – and the benefits of due dates and tags – only very rarely does anything get missed.”
This alleviates stress in Sebastian’s daily work and facilitates the team in achieving their goals. With the right tools in place, VR-Bank Würzburg has positioned itself as a forward-thinking bank, fully committed to innovation.
“For me, MeisterTask and MindMeister are not only efficiency-enhancing tools, but also culture-changing tools. We’ve transformed our old world, where “working according to instructions” was the default, into an innovative, agile and collaborative working environment.”