Digital expense approval takes minutes instead of a full week

Gerry Weber International AG: Work seamlessly on the d.velop cloud platform

Gerry Weber International AG, founded in 1973, is one of Germany’s best-known fashion companies in “Women’s Modern Classic Mainstream,” with its headquarters in Halle, Westphalia. The company currently employs 2,200 people worldwide, with approximately 400 based at its headquarters. Gerry Weber generates annual sales of around 300 million euros (annual report 2020) across its primary sales channels, comprising of its own stationary trade, wholesale, and e-commerce.

Gerry Weber AG aims to digitise business processes

An important rule of thumb for digitisation is that anyone seriously considering the digitization of processes in their company should think holistically and avoid isolated solutions. The Gerry Weber Group consistently follows this approach. To achieve its digital goals, the fashion group has the support of a reliable partner. The company is meticulous about digitally implementing as many business processes as possible using the best solutions and continuously replacing existing solutions without interruption.

Replacing Inefficient Workflows

The reason for consistently relying on digital workflows: Many of the conventional processes were no longer optimal in terms of time management, error prevention, and cost efficiency. In addition, the cost approval process offered room for improvement.

Cost applications in Excel spreadsheets signed off weekly

“The cost claims for each department were entered in a separate Excel spreadsheet. Corporate Sourcing then released them once a week”, says Patrick Kühnast, Coordinator of Shared Services & PMO at Gerry Weber, describing the rigidity of this exemplary workflow. Essentially, there was a high level of internal coordination but no transparent overview of open processes and costs.



400 of them at the Halle headquarter

300 Mio. EUR

Sales volume

in 2020

Corporate Sourcing Triggers Digitisation

“In operational business, a week is a long time when bills have to be paid”, points out Patrick Kühnast. At Gerry Weber, it was the corporate sourcing division, i.e., central purchasing, that ultimately sparked profound digitisation efforts within the company.

Discovered Through Internet Research

“In this context, priority was given to digitising contract management and approving costs. We had to find a partner for this” explains Patrick Kühnast, explaining the first step. “Through internet research we came across d.velop.”

Conversations with Gerry Weber

In the initial stages, extensive discussions with d.velop were crucial. “We were not only looking for a partner with expertise in purchasing processes, but also seeking a versatile partner to collaborate with in other areas.”, Patrick Kühnast continues. “We weren’t certain whether d.velop could fulfill that.”

gerry weber patrick kuehnast

“What convinced us about d.velop was the versatility and the fact that extraordinary solutions were offered. We also liked the platform concept, providing a central interface on which we can handle numerous issues such as cost approval, contract management, etc. Many things are already available right away at d.velop, and for Gerry Weber requirements we have a partner who implements them for us.”

Patrick Kühnast, Coordinator Shared Services & PMO at Gerry Weber

Gerry Weber demands digital processes

d.velop was awarded the contract, subject to a few framework conditions: “A resource-saving and fast implementation, continuous digital processes from the application to the signature that is user friendly for end users”, Marco Doods, Account Manager Retail at d.velop, points out.

What convinced us about d.velop was the versatility and the fact that extraordinary solutions were offered.

Patrick Kühnast
Coordinator Shared Services & PMO
Gerry Weber International AG

Contract Management and Cost Approval

The initial two projects focused on digitising contract management and the cost approval process. The objectives were clearly defined: centralize the management of all company contracts, incorporate proactive advancement, adhere to deadlines, and implement digital automation. When approving costs, the application, review and approval of investment projects should be regulated within a department until they are approved. In addition, the process should be faster and more transparent, addressing questions such as: What applications are pending? Where are they in the approval process? What volume of applications are in progress?

Limited Resources Prompt Cloud Solutions

The following applied to both areas: They should be consistently digital and free of media breaks. “Since the customer could only provide a few resources on the IT side, it quickly became clear that an on-premises solution would not be practical”, says Marco Doods. “Furthermore, the project should be implemented as quickly as possible, which in turn pays for a cloud solution.” And such a solution, says Patrick Kühnast, “is becoming essential.”

d.velop Places Trust in Partner alphaflow GmbH

In order to meet all of Gerry Weber’s requirements, d.velop relied on the expertise of its partner company alphaflow GmbH for this project. With the d.velop cloud platform as a basis, alphaflow apps should serve as an interface for users. d.velop describes themselves as a document management system (DMS) and the electronic signature should be integrated accordingly.

Sub-Project Implementation

The first sub-project spanned five months and included contract management, cost approval, and electronic signature. It commenced with a kickoff event, during which a prototype was presented, and employees completed onboarding. Furthermore, adjustments were made to the solutions in a rolling process. “We held weekly meetings with d.velop at the outset, comparing and implementing tasks in individual sprints.”, remembers Patrick Kühnast.

d.velop employeeMarco Doods
Marco Doods, Retail Account Manager at d.velop

Atmosphere “great” during the project phase

Patrick Kühnast describes the atmosphere as great; “Everyone was super patient, especially in the beginning. When the project started, we immediately agreed on a first name basis, it was very constructive and really fun. Still, today.” The atmosphere at d.velop was also remembered positively. “The communication and cooperation between us, alphaflow and Gerry Weber was always very harmonious”, Marco Doods sums up.

The value of digital solutions

Of course, there were critics before the first major changes. “But the added value that the new tool brought for everyone quickly won people over.” The decision was made to introduce digital tools immediately, initially in two departments. From there, the new technology was rolled out progressively within the company.

Training at Gerry Weber carried out independently

Internal training followed the implementation of the digital software solutions. “We did it on our own. There was a small project team with which we worked out the right training solution for Gerry Weber ourselves”, reveals Patrick Kühnast. “The key users who were involved in the planning also trained our colleagues.” In addition, instructions were written independently and communicated internally in order to create a learning platform.

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Time management applications

The initial projects have been successfully implemented. In addition to contract management and cost approval, applications for company vehicles and project submissions are now seamlessly digital, right down to the signing of the relevant documents. Was it worth it? In which areas are the improvements most significant?

Optimal timing at Gerry Weber

“We are already reaping significant benefits from the time saved in approving costs”, says Patrick Kühnast enthusiastically, giving an example: “Cost approval previously took a minimum of seven days because the Excel list was only reviewed once a week. The cost approval is crucial for the buyer. Now, with the current system, if approval is urgent, it can be granted within five minutes on the same day.” He believes that approving costs has been the greatest progress.

The positive changes can also be seen in contract management:

“Together with alphaflow, we were able to create a central basis at Gerry Weber International AG that ensures all contracts are entered and monitored there. In addition, we were also able to implement ‘the last mile’ with the signature, in that all contracts are also digitally signed without media breaks.”

Marco Doods, Retail Account Manager at d.velop

Remote working is an integral part across the board

Other advantages of the digital world of work have also become apparent in other areas. “Due to Corona, remote work was introduced across the board, and the cloud solution is of course ideal for that. Colleagues are in their home office and can access everything at any time.”

Project management at Gerry Weber runs entirely via Smenso

In addition, there is the management tool from Smenso, another partner of d.velop. The entire project management at Gerry Weber now runs via Smenso Cloud, which can of course be integrated to the d.velop platform.

Gerry Weber continues the partnership with d.velop

How does the future look? “We definitely want to continue working with d.velop”, reveals Patrick Kühnast. “For example, we want to continue using the DMS that d.velop offers and tackle the whole issue of archiving and finding documents in general”.

Digitalising Company Documents

They are currently in the process of digitising all of the company files in the basement. “These are documents that are not frequently needed, but when you do, they need to be quickly accessible.” Gerry Weber is also exploring digital training options. “We would like to manage this entirely through d.velop”, explains Patrick Kühnast. In terms of employee apps and intranet, they are currently evaluating whether d.velop could be the right partner.

Patrick Kühnast is already very satisfied with the digitisation steps taken so far. A lot has happened in terms of efficiency and error minimisation. Especially when he looks back at the time before the digitisation push.

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