Board, committees, and assistants: How EHL improved their meetings with Sherpany
EHL's meetings relied on a board portal solution that didn’t allow them to be effective: document processing was time-consuming and led to a lack of visibility as well as privacy issues.
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Sherpany streamlines meeting management processes and improves preparation, decision making, and execution in a flexible manner, while ensuring security and confidentiality.
Meetings are critical to the success of organisations. They are where individuals come together to collaborate and make decisions in real time. But for meetings to be successful, first establishing robust meeting processes is fundamental.
In this regard, it was crucial for EHL Group, a worldwide leader in education, business solutions, and hospitality innovation, to upgrade their meeting management processes and find an adequate technological solution. Ensuring the security and the confidentiality of documents was a priority in this process.
In this case study, Dr. Carole Ackermann, Chairwoman of the EHL Group Board of Directors, told us how Sherpany covered this organisation’s meeting needs.
Preparing for meetings was a real challenge
Prior to Sherpany, EHL's board meetings relied on a board portal solution. Documents had to be uploaded in a compressed PDF format, and comments couldn’t be added within the same solution. Instead, meeting participants had to download a PDF version of documents and the meeting agenda and manually add comments. Updates were not accessible to others until the meeting itself, making preparation difficult.
"It was not easy to edit the agenda items or comment on the documents,” said Dr. Ackermann.
The challenges of meeting preparation increased in the case of last minute changes: when the updated meeting materials were published, Dr. Ackermann was contacted by phone to review them. She then had to download all the documents and check them individually. A single mistake would mean that all the documents needed to be uploaded again, and her notes would be lost. Unexpected changes were difficult to implement and, along with the lack of visibility of the documents, resulted in a significant waste of time.
Upgrading their meeting planning process was the big trigger for EHL to begin enhancing their meetings. Other requirements included security and confidentiality. Documents should remain secure once uploaded to the solution and data should be stored locally and not, for example, in US data centres, which was the case for their previous solution. In addition, being able to define levels of user access in different companies of the EHL Group was a key requirement. Their previous board portal solution only allowed for two types of accesses: Admins, who could create meetings and access all group’s documents and meetings, and Members who could only view documents.
A self-explanatory solution and smooth implementation
Implementing Sherpany was very easy. In the words of Carole Ackermann, the solution is “extremely self-explanatory, and there were no problems when we started using it. It’s very easy to understand it and use it whether you are tech-savvy or used to more traditional processes.” The organisation has, for this reason, dispensed with the personalised onboarding that Sherpany offers and instead started using our software immediately.
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Overhauling meeting management processes with Sherpany
The shift to Sherpany allowed for a quicker meeting setup: “Everything is much more practical now, and it takes a quarter of an hour to set up a meeting, whereas before we took much longer.”
Meeting preparation, and alignment between the participants and organisers, was also made easier. Thanks to Sherpany, they can now publish the agenda and the documents for review in a digital format, which is much quicker and gives greater flexibility to Dr. Ackermann when reviewing prior to each meeting. “I can consult agendas and documents on all my devices, online or offline, prepare for the meeting, and read the different updates and comments. Moreover, people are always informed even when changes are made at the last minute” she commented. Working with Sherpany has also simplified the way in which information is exchanged, offering an all-in-one meeting management solution, allowing EHL Group to stop downloading meeting materials and having to use emails and phone calls to be able to collaborate.
Now the agenda is much more than a storage system.
The upgrade of EHL Group’s meeting processes also includes the follow-up: meeting participants can access documents and decisions from past meetings, which is a "major advantage" for the success of their meetings, according to Dr. Ackermann. She uses Sherpany herself, often while commuting on the train, and can access it from all of her devices. "It gives me a really good feeling. I have everything with me and I think it's reliable. That's a huge benefit." she reflected.
The need for a secure and confidential solution
When it comes to security, EHL Group found the high data security standards they were looking for in Sherpany. Secure, two-factor authentication is just one example. Dr. Ackermann confirmed this, saying, "I feel like our documents are safe, and I feel confident because of the way they are uploaded and the way you have to authenticate to log into Sherpany."
Sherpany's data protection and privacy compliance are valuable to the group, as data is safe and remains local, stored in independent data centres based in Switzerland. Sherpany is also ISO 27001 and ISAE 3000 certified, compliant with GDPR, BaFin, and FINMA regulations, and not affected by the US CLOUD Act.
The challenges EHL Group faced in providing different document access levels across subsidiary companies have been resolved. With Sherpany, access rights offer a high level of granularity that allows each user to perform their tasks independently and simplifies the process for a large group of companies such as EHL.
Leveraging a healthy meeting culture at EHL Group
Regardless of whether meetings take place in a hybrid or face-to-face format, EHL Group uses Sherpany to facilitate effective leadership meetings. They are committed to creating an environment in which everyone can achieve their full potential. Meeting culture is an essential part of overall company culture and is crucial to the performance of the organisation. Our meeting management software helps EHL Group to maintain a healthy meeting culture, supporting the entire process. In short:
- Meeting planning and preparation is easier. Agenda creation, document sharing, updates, and collaboration now take place seamlessly within the same tool, ensuring that everyone is aligned, prepared, and ready to contribute to meetings. "When you get to the meeting, you are prepared with documents right in front of your eyes. You have easy access to them and they support you in your arguments, opinions, and questions,” Dr. Ackermann stated.
- Meeting time is fully goal-oriented. All participants are assigned roles in Sherpany meaning that there’s always a designated meeting lead who guides participants through the meeting. Furthermore, one of EHL Group’s concerns was guaranteeing that everyone feels safe to express opinions in order to make the right decisions. “Whether it's about reaching agreement or having different solutions, the most important thing is to bring people together, to create an atmosphere where people like to participate and share,'' Dr. Ackermann told us.
- The meeting follow-up with Sherpany allows participants to review past decisions and keep track of ongoing tasks to guarantee that decisions are not only taken, but also executed.
Whether it's about reaching an agreement or having different solutions, the most important thing is to bring people together, to create an atmosphere where people like to participate and share.
While Sherpany was initially intended to be a tool for EHL Group’s board of directors, it quickly became more widely used. "We have a lot of sub-companies that want to use it. We didn't have to nudge them to use it, they requested it. That's how good the solution is,” Dr. Ackermann explained. Sherpany’s solution has been in use for two years and has simplified and saved time in numerous meeting tasks across the organisation. “The assistants, presidents, and board members save hours of work. We are more efficient and we save money," said Dr. Ackermann.
Florence Wyss-Bieri, EHL Board Assistant, benefited from these time savings. Today, it only takes her a few minutes to organise a board meeting. "Once the agenda and the documents are ready, I can validate them with the president in a few clicks." The support center is also quickly available if needed: "If I have questions, I can call the hotline or refer to the online support and talk to someone directly.”
Once the agenda and the documents are ready, I can validate them with the president in a few clicks.
On an individual level, Dr. Ackermann told us how Sherpany changed the way she works, “I recommend using Sherpany, which allowed me to start changing the mindset of how we collaborate and make decisions.”
Meetings are at the heart of this organisation because they are where momentum is created. "Any type of exchange happens through meetings. Even if you read a book, you won't learn as much as if you're exchanging in a meeting. The better you prepare, the better you support the meeting, the more results you get. It's not just about making decisions, it's about sharing thoughts and having different opinions, bringing them together and, through the discussions, developing new solutions. I think the more a tool helps sharing thoughts and bringing value through discussion and exchange, the more you are fulfilling the mission of developing people. That includes board members, but also committees or employees," Dr. Ackermann said.
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About EHL Group
EHL Group is a global leader in hospitality education, business solutions, and innovation. Their purpose is to augment the level of excellence in both their students and the hospitality industry by enriching traditional hospitality education and business models with the values of tomorrow. We would like to thank Dr. Carole Ackermann for her time and inspiring insights about global hybrid meetings and effective meeting culture, as well as the entire EHL Group leadership team for their trust in Sherpany.