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"Gertrud Enables Very Clear Delegation of Responsibilities" – Interview with Isabella Röhm, Assistant to the CEO at Stihl

Exclusive Interview
Case Study
May 14, 2024
May 14, 2024
Table of contents

Interview with Isabella Röhm

Background

In January 2024, Stihl implemented Gertrud, marking its Go-Live date. Since then, they have organized their first meetings using Gertrud. In an interview with Nadine, Isabella Röhm, CEO Office and Assistant to the Chairman of the Board, shares how her work has changed with Gertrud.

Introduction of Gertrud

How did you come across Gertrud?

"We conducted research together with our IT network. Ultimately, based on a recommendation from Microsoft, we chose Gertrud. We also researched through personal networks and the market in general, but there wasn't another tool that matched our needs as well as this software."

Needs Analysis: Gertrud as an ideal solution

What are your specific needs that Gertrud now meets so well?

"Essentially, Gertrud handles all the classic tasks related to board meetings, specifically within our executive board. This includes registering topics, designing the agenda, sending out meeting invitations, providing meeting documents, recording minutes, and including decisions and tasks. We found this comprehensive coverage only in Gertrud. Additionally, we appreciated how Gertrud integrates with our Microsoft structure and directly interfaces with our SharePoint platform. For meeting participants, the board members, this transition didn't change much."

Approach before Gertrud implementation

How did you manage these tasks before Gertrud?

"We used Office templates and shared SharePoint libraries. Communication was primarily through email exchanges, chats, or face-to-face conversations."

Comparison of workload before and after Gertrud implementation

Yes, how was this workload for you, especially in comparison to now?

"There was a lot of coordination required, and not everyone always had the same information. Topics from the 6 executive board departments came to me in the CEO Office, where I was responsible for preparing decisions on which topics to include in the agenda and when. For my colleagues in the other executive offices, it has become easier because topics can now be directly registered in Gertrud for future meetings. So, there's no need for additional reminders or coordination loops. Gertrud notifies the planners (executive offices) as soon as new agenda items are registered. Therefore, each of us always has the same information. Another advantage is that board members can also access all information directly in Gertrud at any time. Before Gertrud, this depended a lot on how each executive office managed their work."

Streamlined workflows with Gertrud

So, has the workflow become more standardized with Gertrud?

"Exactly, with Gertrud, everyone is compelled to provide all necessary information for meetings right from the beginning when submitting a topic. For example, is a decision template required? Is a resolution expected, or is it just for information or discussion? Who from the departments should participate and in what form (in person or remote), and how much time is needed? All this is automatically captured in the database. The feedback from colleagues was that working with software is much more enjoyable than writing emails, manually updating Office templates, and constantly keeping various things in mind."

Increased transparency and discipline

So, if I understand correctly, summarizing the key points so far, Gertrud has increased transparency within the company because everyone can better access everything, and it has introduced more discipline by including documents right from the start, thus immensely easing your workflow. Are these the key points?

"Yes, absolutely. Transparency and information flow are crucial, especially given our dependencies between meetings. Discussions occur not only in the executive board but also in various other committees. We operate with different hierarchical levels and are frequently cross-functional in decision-making processes. Thus, the traceability of decisions was a very important goal for us."

Traceability of decisions with Gertrud

And what would you say about the traceability of decisions since you've had Gertrud?

"We haven't had it for very long, but one advantage we see is the clarity: when and by whom was a decision made in which committee. This is ensured through search capabilities, and we also benefit from being able to monitor actions from meetings more easily, without the need for manual tracking. This is a huge advantage for us; we have an automatic system that eliminates the need for a manual pending list and filters the status of agenda items in Gertrud."

Ease in daily work

You mentioned earlier that things are no longer on your mind. So, from a personal perspective, what relief does Gertrud provide in your daily work?

"Gertrud enables clear delegation of responsibilities across the various executive offices, so I'm not the bottleneck; we operate here as a team. This was extremely important to me. The cascading of decisions on relevant board topics is managed in the respective executive offices by my colleagues. Of course, I'm the final approval point, preparing everything for the CEO and leading the program, but we've divided responsibilities, and everyone in our team has the same permissions in Gertrud, so everyone can see and implement everything. This transparency also ensures data quality and deadlines through the respective responsible departments, meaning I have to ask for fewer details because background information is no longer missing. It's important that roles are clearly communicated and distributed. This approach has been working very well for us so far."

Time savings with Gertrud

And what would you say, how much time does Gertrud save you?

"That's a difficult question to answer straightforwardly. It depends on the process step. It worked before, but it was much harder to keep everyone on track, especially when last-minute changes came in. That's different now, but many tasks still need to be managed and completed with Gertrud. What's eliminated is that I no longer need to create a manual agenda, and recording minutes is much easier and faster due to data entry in forms. Let's separate agenda and minutes with the distribution of extracts. Once the system with all its forms is configured, I see a benefit for me of, let's say, 20%. Gertrud sends the agenda and invitations automatically from the system. As for minutes, I see about a 40% easing for me."

Handling Gertrud

So, how is it like handling Gertrud itself for you? You mentioned the forms just now. How intuitive do you find the program?

"Good. I found it very easy to understand and use Gertrud. I appreciate its functionality and usefulness for our work. The automation across various process steps creates a lot of efficiency, which also fosters acceptance for a new system. Gertrud is fundamentally intuitive, and the response to training sessions was very positive. However, not everything is self-explanatory. In the planner role, one must engage with the tool."

Evaluation of Gertrud implementation

You mentioned the training sessions you had during the implementation. How did the implementation of Gertrud go at your company?

"Very well. That was also something we really appreciated about Gertrud and what my colleague from IT also mentioned repeatedly. She had closer contact with you and confirmed that the flexibility and speed we experienced with you were fantastic. Also, the level of customization and openness to saying, we'll review individual requirements; customer orientation was very high. Despite a very tight schedule, we met the Go-Live date. Now, there are still occasional requests or questions, but Gertrud is also open to our needs and evaluates what's feasible. However, we also know that there can't be a 'one-size-fits-all' solution."

Overall benefit of Gertrud for Stihl

So, summing it up, what benefit does Gertrud bring to the entire company from your perspective?

"Better transparency and higher efficiency. What's particularly cool is that when a agenda item is accepted in Gertrud, the team is informed. For example, you have a task here in four weeks, and with the evolving agenda, times are added. This means people are much better informed, and we planners in Gertrud have greater process security."

Top features of Gertrud

Do you have a favorite feature personally?

"Yes, in the agenda, being able to move agenda items around in terms of time, that's fun, and having the times calculated automatically. This automated flexibility in the agenda and the automatic calculation of how much time we have left, that's really good."

Documentation before Gertrud

So, was this done in Word or Excel before? Or how should I imagine it?

"Exactly. And all these validation functions are no longer necessary; I can focus my energy on content management. I have more time for content management and less for organizational management because everything is reduced to a few clicks."

Closing words

That's all the questions from my side. But from your side, is there anything else that's important for you to mention?

"I think I can speak for many in these roles. The daily work in the executive offices is often very hectic and time-critical. Simultaneously keeping everything in view and always being able to provide information is often very demanding. With Gertrud, we finally have a tool that helps us here and is also a lot of fun."

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