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With Citrix, Rastatt district becomes a digital pioneer

Paper files have almost completely disappeared from everyday life in the Rastatt district office. Today, around 1,300 employees are largely working digitally – and, thanks to Citrix technology, also independently of location and devices. The modern workspace concept speeds up administrative processes, relieving some of the burden on staff of their day-to-day lives, and helps deal with the challenges brought by the Covid-19 crisis.

The district of Rastatt is located to the west of Baden-Württemberg and is part of the region of Middle Upper Rhine in the administrative district of Karlsruhe. Today, there are around 225,000 people living in the district's 23 towns and municipalities. The Rastatt District Office, as the district authority and the lower state administration authority, carries out a range of tasks from waste disposal to the approval of motor vehicles. Almost 1,500 employees work at the District Office in the interest of residents and companies.

The District Office relies on digital technologies to provide the many different services as efficiently as possible. The managing authority is largely paperless with e-files and documents managed by regisafe. Incoming letters are immediately scanned and then processed digitally. In total, more than 280 different specialist procedures are used today.

"The Online Access Act and other legal requirements require us to press ahead with the issue of e-government," explains Gerd Zumkeller, Head of information and Communication at the Office for Human Resources, Organisation and Digitisation. "Digital solutions mean we can provide our citizens with better services and reduce the work burden on our employees in their daily working lives. A major challenge, however, is the limited number of human resources that are available for administrative IT operations."

The IT organisation in the Rastatt District Office has a lean structure. Four professionals are currently managing the infrastructure and providing IT applications. Digitisation now means that the department has some new work, so the IT experts at the District Office are continiously thinking about ways to reduce the ongoing administration requirements.

“The role of the IT in administration is changing fundamentally,” Mr Zumkeller states. “In the future, we want to be spending far less time installing software and hardware, and instead, being available as consultants and digital sparring partners to support the specialist departments. Our main goals are to create a better digital working environment and to accelerate many of the processes thanks to intelligent automation.”

Flexible working from any location and using any device

The development of digital workplaces revolved initially around simplifying access to applications and data. The Rastatt District Office relies on Citrix solutions for this technology. Applications and desktops are now provided centrally via the data centre with Citrix Virtual Apps and Desktops. With the Citrix Workspace app, users can access all the resources in their workplace—from virtually any device. In the office today IGEL Thin Clients are mainly used instead of PCs. In addition, more and more staff are using Apple iPads and iPhones as well as Microsoft Surface Laptops and Tablets for their work. All mobile devices are managed centrally via Citrix Endpoint Management and protected by unified security policies.

“The Citrix solution has enabled us to create the right conditions for secure mobile working and make everyday life enormously easier for our staff,” says the Head of IT. “An intuitive user interface gives them quick and easy access to all the applications they need to do their jobs. Both our older employees and our junior staff are delighted with Citrix Workspace.”

Citrix Content Collaboration supports digital document workflows

The new solution not only provides access to technical procedures and electronic files, it also integrates a secure file exchange solution into the digital workplace with Citrix Content Collaboration and the Citrix Files app. This speeds up many work processes in a wide variety of departments.

For example, technical specialists now have access to digital operating manuals while travelling, enabling them to eliminate faults more quickly. Progress in construction work – for example, in expanding the municipal broadband network – is also being digitally documented today. The staff responsible for this take photos on site with their smartphone camera and transfer them to the document management system in the District Office with no change in media.

This is very important when dealing with sensitive information: The administrative body retains full control over where the data is stored and who can access it. For example, staff at the Youth Welfare Office can allow digital access to files, but the file itself cannot be downloaded, copied, or shared.

“Protecting personal data is our highest priority,” Mr Zumkeller emphasized. “That’s why we have had all digital workflows reviewed by our data protection officers. He confirms that the Citrix solution meets all the requirements of the GDPR.”

Less administrative work, higher quality of service

Citrix Workspace opens up new opportunities for employees, and the solution also relieves the burden on the IT department. All applications, data and terminals are managed centrally; software updates only need to be installed once in the data centre. “Citrix Provisioning Services enable us to deploy new servers very easily and update the entire environment in just a few clicks,” says Mr Zumkeller. “We also use the ScriptRunner tool from AppSphere for further automation.”

Software no longer needs to be set up and maintained locally on the terminals, which significantly reduces the ongoing administration and support requirements. All applications are running in a stable, secure manner in the data centre’s redundantly designed infrastructure.

At the same time, the IT department has complete oversight of the entire digital working environment’s performance and availability. “The Citrix Director management console and the ControlUp Insights extension provide us with all the key infrastructure metrics in real time, and report potential bottlenecks at an early stage. This helps us to continuously improve the user experience,” says Mr Zumkeller. “For example, we now have reduced login times on the virtual desktops to approx. 30 seconds – a very important factor in user satisfaction.”

The District Office has remained able to act during the Covid-19 crisis

The new working environment has also proved its worth during the Covid-19 crisis. When the first contact restrictions for the district of Rastatt came into force in spring 2020, the District Office reacted immediately. "Within a week, 90 per cent of our employees were able to work from home,” Mr Zumkeller says.

Citrix Gateway meant that a solution was already in place to connect remote users to the internal network securely. The solution encrypts all communications between the terminals in home offices and the virtual applications and desktops in the data centre. To ensure secure login at the gateway, the IT department also set up multi-factor authentication and distributed security tokens to all employees at short notice. Users were then told over the telephone how to gain access their workplace from home using their personal computer.

"Our support team did a really great job here – and thanks to Citrix, our employees were able to continue their work from home almost without any interruptions,” says Mr Zumkeller. “Many of our employees were working from home for the first time, yet the changeover worked surprisingly well.”

As a result, the IT manager is confident that this new way of working will become a permanent feature in the District Office. “Users appreciate the flexibility they gain and the new options. We now have the objectives of making the working environment even smarter and to drive the digitisation of workflows even further. Citrix Workspace can help us with innovative approaches such as micro apps.”

The new digital work environment has been very well received by users because it is simple and intuitive to use. Citrix has not only helped us improve user satisfaction, but also to meet the data protection requirements of digital workflows.
Gerd Zumkeller
Head of Information and Communication
Rastatt District Office


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