GVL 2022
Facts, Figures and more


“We manage to solve a mountain of issues each year”

Interview with Jens Conring, Division Manager Product & Service Innovation

GVL invests heavily in its further development each year. As a data-processing service provider, it is not just important to remain at the current technical level at all times but also to be there for our rights holders with improved services. We spoke with Jens Conring. As Head of the Product & Service Innovation division, project and portfolio management of GVL is one of his key topics.

Photo: Michael Reinhardt

What does project management mean at GVL and how does the work of your team affect investment decisions of GVL?

GVL implements a pre-determined number of larger and smaller projects each year and thus invests into its own company. In this context, particularly in-house developers and programmers are involved as they further develop the IT systems, introduce new functions on the portals and create an even smoother data process.

What is clear is that in our job, we cannot do and implement everything at once. When it comes to developing our systems further, we follow a strategy where the committees are always involved. The direct exchange with our rights holders is also significant. To split such an investment strategy into individual, feasible projects which can be planned and controlled by us, that is the task of our project management team.

What are the principles you use to make your decisions, when and how new projects and topics at GVL are tackled?

We collect the types of issues which are presented to us and that we create ourselves, in our so-called project portfolio. The portfolio which is compiled for one year each time, is basically an orderly overview of selected issues and challenges, and that at a relatively abstract level of thematic blocks.

In contrast to the artistic portfolio which is a collection of already published creative work, our project portfolio serves the purpose of prioritising pending tasks. We strive to work as efficiently as possible justifying the involved investment costs and enabling us to conclude as many of the set tasks as possible and that as good as possible.

In the further development of our systems, we follow a strategy in which the board members of GuDV are always involved. In addition, direct exchange with our beneficiaries is very important to us.

Surely, there are quite a few ideas that are compiled over a year as to what one could or should do. How do we set priorities and how do we decide what is included in the portfolio?

Here, it is particularly the expert sectors that are in demand. There is, for example, the area of the Rights Holders’ Service Division, but also our Finance or Legal Division. They are always in direct contact with rights holders and partners and therefore capture specific requirements i.e. what is needed or where there are issues. Said exchange is taking place, among others, via our hotlines and workshops, or if our colleagues are present at events such as the Reeperbahn Festival. As an organisation, we do, however, also have to follow and adapt to political and scientific developments which influence our company strategy from an operational point. This kind of input from the outside is of high importance. Thus, an ongoing collection of innovative ideas is collated which enter into the investment strategy of GVL at a constant rate. This is why we usually plan beyond a one-year period.

What is the role that our committees such as the Assembly of Shareholders and Delegates (GuDV) play when it comes to such decisions?

We discuss the focal points of a calendar year with the committees. After all, the delegates are the experts for what their respective rights holders’ groups need. The GuDV takes place twice a year and then gives us the Go for our projects.

What is also important to mention is that we need to remain as flexible as possible to be able to react to the latest developments. We are now doing this rather well in cooperation with the GuDV. Due to the portfolio, they know exactly what we intend to do and how we prioritise the tasks, especially with regard to costs and resources. This provides for transparency and trust on both sides.

And if we begin to launch the implementation process, what is the role of the portfolio then?

The portfolio is, first of all, a rough overview. Behind it, there is always a plethora of small and larger partial tasks; they are sometimes easy and sometimes harder to implement. Imagine it like this: The portfolio is the visible tip of the iceberg and it is only below the surface of the water that the actual mountain of issues resides which we have to tackle each year. Most of what we get done is not even visible for our rights holders.

As such, it is more than likely that a user sees a new input field in our portals which they only need to click on and complete. It is more than possible, however, that our developers have surmounted weeks or months of challenges to ensure this button is working reliably for all eventualities and the data is processed safely. Especially when it comes to data processing which is our main task, a lot is happening in the background.

Due to the portfolio, the board members of GuDV know exactly what we intend to do and how we prioritise the tasks, especially with regard to costs and resources. This provides for transparency and trust on both sides.

Could you provide us a few examples for projects which we finished in the 2022 financial year thanks to the portfolio approach?

There is, on the one hand, the international focus: We completed the RDx onboarding successfully. RDx is the global producer repertoire database and is intended to act as the basis for a cross-border data exchange for labels. As one of the biggest music licensing companies in the world, we have received a lot of positive feedback regarding the RDx membership.

On the other hand, we had a relaunch for the performer portal meine.gvl with new functionalities and an enhanced product search last year. Especially with the portal, whether for performers or producers, we have extended the self service functions so that the rights holders can find their own way in the system much better. Furthermore, we have been working on the data quality which means that the complaints decreased by a lot.

When it comes to the new online rights administration agreement, we also made progress so that we could launch it at the beginning of 2023. That was an important step when it comes to the near-finishing of our process digitisation. Finally, our distribution systems are at the state-of-the-art level of technology and optimised in such a way that they can withstand new requirements in the future.

How do you assess the work of GVL from the view of a project portfolio manager in the past year?

Everything I just mentioned can be felt by the rights holders. From a project management perspective, we therefore had a rather successful year with a very good completion rate of the tasks set, compared to other industry sectors, this is above average in my experience.

Business informatics specialist, Jens Conring, has been working for GVL since 2018. His main tasks include project and portfolio management. As Head of the  Product & Service Innovation division, he and his team are also responsible for process development, analyses, evaluations and key operating figures/key performance indicators.