Team of the month: September

At Burda we have great teams working together, developing new ideas and driving projects forward. In our “Team of the Month” series, we profile teams from across the Burda Group. Today: The interdisciplinary SmartMail project team.

For the SMARTMail project you formed an interdisciplinary team from different departments. Your motto is "Just Label it!". What is behind this core message?

It's about storing emails correctly. And this is something that concerns us all. With SMARTMail, we offer an easy way for management and relevant departments to comply with their legal obligations regarding email retention. At the same time, SMARTMail users remain in control of their e-mails, retaining only what they need to retain. This also prevents marked e-mails from being lost in the event of staff changes, should no handover have taken place. In addition, SMARTMail users have the advantage that their mailboxes are automatically cleaned up after 4 years, so that they always work in compliance with data protection regulations.

When was the project launched? 

The project was commissioned in 2019 by Holger Eckstein in the Executive Board division and  the project responsibility was handed over to Ralf Kimpel (Director CARiS). We are now at the end of the rollout and are all very proud! The majority of the so-called SMARTMail target group has successfully completed their e-learning as a prerequisite for the activation of SMARTMail, including live intensive training and Q&A sessions. The retention periods of 10+1 years and 30+1 years can already be applied by this group, while the data protection relevant deletion routine for emails older than 3+1 years will be successively activated in 2024.

What criteria did you use to put your team together and how did the workflow work? 

Very well! Of course, the SMARTMail team has undergone some changes due to the long duration of the project and natural staff turnover. But many Burda experts contributed to the success of the project in the different project phases. Initially, Ralf Kimpel commissioned a working paper from the law firm SSB to define the legal requirements for the "storage of digital business communications". This was the basis for defining the legal requirements for our technical solution. During the course of the project Anouk Bender and then Hanni Sobek oversaw the project management. From 2020 onwards, this then lay entirely with CARiS, and a lateral group team was set up.

Since the end of 2022, SMARTMail and Li Peng have been the central interface for communication, rollout planning, documentation and process optimisation. The intensive trainings as well as Q&A sessions are conducted live by Hanni Sobek, Dr Martin Scheuer and Li Peng. In cooperation with Legal (Gabriela Jäger, Marina Echteler, Elisabeth Kuhn), Data Privacy (Dr. Martin Scheurer) and BDS (Peter Fritsch), user enquiries sent to will also be answered here. Please feel free to contact us at any time if you have any questions.

What was the biggest challenge in the project and how did you overcome it together? 

One of the biggest challenges was building consensus between the different Burda departments, specifically concerning the legal content of SMARTMail. Due to the heterogeneous structure of Burda, with different locations, corporate cultures, and expertise, this was anything but easy. But thanks to our joint commitment, we managed it successfully. How did we do it? With effective communication, regular meetings and feedback meetings as well as a clear distribution of tasks. These were crucial in reaching a consensus. The courage to discuss and share information also helped us a lot. The individual team players had different experiences and best practices from similar projects, which helped us to optimise our cooperation. It is also important to have a clear division of responsibilities between BurdaSolutions (technical design) and CARiS/Legal/Data Privacy (content nature).

However, whether SMARTMail remains a successful project now depends on the willingness and dedication of each user to label their e-mails. That is why our motto and our call to all Burda colleagues is "Just Label it!".

Division in the team: Who was responsible for which task?

  • Legal: legal requirements: Andreas Rittstieg, Maxim Ciebiera, Dr Martin Scheurer
  • Data Privacy: legal requirements and training concept: Dr Martin Scheurer
  • Corporate Tax & Accounting: Heinz Spengler, Christiane Lahr, Stefan Mayer, Thilo Knöller
  • BurdaServices Accounting: Ralf Grasser
  • BDS: Market selection and technical requirements: Ralf Maier, project management: Madeleine Weber, further technical requirements, realisation and implementation: Markus Hoeschen, Ralf Doninger, Peter Fritsch, training and communication concept: Peter Fritsch, ticket system: LennKoch
  • Procurement: call for tenders: Michael Sauda
  • Control board: Decision and approval of milestones as well as the elaborated Microsoft solution: Holger Eckstein, Katharina Herrmann, Gerhard Thomas, Heinz Spengler, Priska Hodapp-Steinbild, Thomas Koelzer, Jürgen Kempter, Maximilian Preisser, Ralf Kimpel
  • Corporate HR: Training and communication concept: Janina Bierwirth, Christiane Blana, [KS1] Johanna Leufgens
  • BDS-HR Interface Training: Alessa Fiehn
  • CARiS (Corporate Audit, Risk & iSecurity): legal requirements: Ralf Kimpel, Hanni Sobek, training and communication concept: Hanni Sobek, Elisabeth Kuhn, Li Peng
  • Videofactory: training videos: Anke Steinbacher & Team
  • Compliance International: international SMARTMail solutions: Claus-Thomas Kuhn
  • Sparring partner: Jake Curtis

Would you also like to present your colleagues in the "Team of the Month" or can you recommend a top team? Then feel free to contact me!



Related articles
BurdaPrincipal Investments Invests In Aleph Alpha
BurdaPrincipal Investments Invests In Aleph Alpha

BurdaPrincipal Investments (BPI), the international growth capital provider of media and technology company Hubert Burda Media, is participating in Aleph Alpha’s Series B financing round.

#Ask the boss: BurdaServices
#Ask the boss: BurdaServices

The #Ask The Boss series gives anyone interested an insight into the work of the department. Today, Lydia Rullkötter, Managing Director of BurdaServices, answers our questions.

New Work SE
Team of the month: XING Product & UX
New Work SE
Team of the month: XING Product & UX

"We have the opportunity to reinvent one of the biggest internet brands in Germany. And that, of course, motivates us," explains Kacper Potega, Senior Vice President Product & UX at Xing. In an interview for the "Te…