PleaseTech blog

We aim to provide useful, pertinent and sometimes fun insights into the world of document collaboration and the workings of a technology company

PleaseReview and redaction

Posted by David Cornwell on 31. August 2016 13:16

Founder/CEO of PleaseTech Ltd - collaborative document review and co-authoring for the enterprise.


As we come out of summer and into autumn/fall, here at PleaseTech we are gearing up for the imminent release of PleaseReview v6. 

This is a massive task as, for the first time in the product’s history (well technically the second time as PleaseReview was brand new back in 2005), we are not releasing an incremental enhancement or improvement, but a completely new review interface. It’s a bit like starting from scratch with a new product, with all the accompanying training and marketing documentation.

For those of you who’ve not attend the v6 preview webinars or followed some of the announcements, one significant addition to PleaseReview v6 will be redaction. We’ve added redaction in response to recent EU privacy and transparency regulations, specifically the EU EMA (European Medicines Agency) transparency policy 70 on the publication of clinical data. Whilst this is directed towards the Life Science industry, we also believe that redaction is universally useful especially in light of the various Freedom of Information directives and the need to redact PPI data from documents supplied under these directives.

Policy 70 has significant implications for Life Science companies in that they will need to redact and negotiate these redactions with the EMA on their European submissions. I am particularly grateful to Dr Patrick Cullinan of Takeda whose presentation on this subject I attended at the Annual Regulatory Writing for Product Approvals Conference held in April in Philadelphia. 

Patrick has kindly permitted us to use some of his material in our forthcoming webinar series on ‘EMA transparency policies - the deepening challenge of redaction and review’ scheduled for September. The webinar will examine the background to the redaction requirement (i.e. policy 70) and demonstrate how the new PleaseReview v6 redaction capability can help organizations rise to the challenge. You can sign up here: http://www.pleasetech.com/webinars.aspx.

Redaction is a natural bedfellow of review and, when you think about it, it is simply another form of proposed change to a document - and so fits into the PleaseReview model extremely well. In practice, using PleaseReview, redactions can be ‘proposed’, they can then be discussed, the proposals can be accepted or rejected with reasons given and finally the proposed redactions are recorded in the reconciliation report so there is full traceability of decisions. 

It is, of course, vitally important that these redacted documents are high quality and accurate (like all regulatory documents) and therefore they need to be reviewed extensively. In this respect, PleaseReview also supports the review of PDF documents with sections ‘Marked for Redaction’ using Adobe Acrobat Professional mark-up. This particular functionality is already part of PleaseReview and is a natural consequence of the way PleaseReview currently handles PDF documents. For more information on this please contact the support team

Of course, PleaseReview v6 isn't all about redaction. As I mentioned at the very beginning we are introducing a completely new modern responsive interface at the same time.  Watch this space for further information but, in the meantime, for more information on the forthcoming redaction capabilities, sign-up for the webinar.

Technology...that works and meets my needs...

Posted by Sarah Edmonds on 30. June 2016 09:41

The other half of marketing... Google


How much of the technology in your life fails to work when you need it to, or simply isn’t up to the job in question? How many times have you wandered up and down streets looking for a phone signal, or nearly thrown your laptop out of a window when software that’s supposed to make your life easier, leaves you with a headache?

Whilst all we want is the technology we have to work properly, the focus seems to be on bringing more and more new tech onto the market.  Our needs are now anticipated before we know we even have them, yet looking for the right technology to meet our genuine needs can sometimes feel overwhelming.  Is it the right solution to the problem in question? How reliable is it?  Is it easy to use or am I going to need a degree in computing to figure it out?  Yes, it looks great, but HOW MUCH?

And what exactly is it that stops us seeking out the right technology?  Are we now so burnt by all the negative experiences that we’d rather put up with outdated and sometimes clumsy IT solutions, rather than seek out an alternative?  At PleaseTech we’ve researched this topic a number of times, and as you’d expect, time and money come up time and time again as the key barriers.

Specifically looking at this from a business perspective, it’s the chicken and the egg, on the one hand poor processes cost organizations millions of dollars a year in lost productivity, whilst on the other you have employees struggling with poor software tools who don’t have the time to research an alternative.  All too often, even if a solution is found, the cost is simply too high to get it past management. They eventually get fed up, quit and the business in question then has to spend thousands of dollars replacing skilled workers.   In fact on average, a study from Oxford Economics found that the cost of replacing a member of staff is $44,798, as detailed in a survey conducted in 2015 by Osterman Research for PleaseTech.

And it’s not just the cost of recruitment that’s a problem.  The Osterman research found that 77% of workers say their organizations report problems finding workers to recruit, and that IT plays an important role in their retention and motivation – for over half of respondents, it plays an important or even critical role.

Quite simply, better IT tools mean better results.  Osterman found that for 85% of respondents, it resulted in increased productivity; for 64% the ability to make decisions more quickly; for 55% better results; for 53% a happier and more satisfactory working environment, and for almost one in five, they would be more likely to stay with an organization.

So what happens when you have that magic moment, you’re surfing the web or you're at a trade show when you come across a solution that could be the genuine answer to your problems?  We already know that cost is an issue, so how do you build a business case?

Following on from our 2016 research with Osterman, we’ve been looking at exactly this issue.  The research is nearly complete and we’ll be holding a series of webinars in the fall to look at the findings in detail.

Meanwhile, we’d love to hear about your experiences.  How did you prove the business case, what clinched the deal?  What were the key stumbling blocks you came up against?  What’s life like now you’ve found a piece of software you don’t want to throw out of the window?  Let us know...

 

What is the future of document creation?

Posted by David Cornwell on 15. June 2016 11:36

Founder/CEO of PleaseTech Ltd - collaborative document review and co-authoring for the enterprise.


I thought I would share an excerpt from an article I recently wrote for CIOReview, an enterprise technology magazine, where I consider the future of document creation.

As the CEO of a technology company I constantly consider the future. Naturally, a major consideration is whether a disruptive new technology is coming along which could make our products obsolete. 

I believe that only the paranoid survive and I’m forever scanning the horizon for the missile which is aimed squarely at our technology - that of document review. What is this disruptive new technology (or, as Nicholas Taleb would put it, black swan event) which will hurt us? 

Let me define ‘document review’ as the term means different things in different industries. For us, document review is the generic term for the process by which peers, specialists or other interested parties comment upon and suggest changes to the content of a document prior to its finalization, approval and dissemination. Specifically, it is the review element of the document creation process.

Whatever the document, the basic creation process is the same: create; review; finalize; approve; and finally, disseminate. I simply don’t see this process changing in the foreseeable future. No black swans there. 

PleaseTech operates in the B2B marketspace where disruptive new technology takes time to infiltrate. 

One area of disruption which impacts us is the ongoing Office suite apps battle between Google and Microsoft. The Microsoft Office Suite has, for the last 20 years, been the dominant application for the creation of documents, spreadsheets and presentations in the business world. Our competitive advantage is based around our deep understanding of Microsoft Word and, to a lesser extent, the remainder of the Office Suite. So is the Office Suite under attack? The answer is: yes - of course. The real question is: how successfully?

A couple of years ago it seemed that Google was making decent inroads into Microsoft’s market share However, with the undoubted success of Office 365, Microsoft is fighting back with companies now switching from Google Apps to Office 365. 

There is, of course, the whole cloud vs on premise debate. Whilst the cloud is a fine invention and our cloud business is growing rapidly, not everyone wants their valuable intellectual property in the cloud. 

Is a company really prepared to entrust valuable documents to a generic cloud? Obviously not, so we see on premise being equally as important as cloud and, that of course, is where Microsoft wins again with its Office Suite. Its commercial competitors are all 100% cloud based.

What about the future of documents themselves? With individuals entering the workforce now being classified as ‘digital natives’, does the whole concept of a ‘document’ go away? Is this our black swan? 

I’m of an age where I recall typing pools. Professional Engineers (as I was attempting to be as I entered the workforce back then) didn’t type their own documents. They were submitted to a typing pool, where they were created, printed and returned to you for review. A red pen was then used and the cycle continued. However, the introduction of PCs and word processors was a disruptive technology and the typing pool vanished. Yet, despite the disruption, the concept of paper document format lived on electronically with Adobe Acrobat. The delivery mechanism may have changed but the concept of a document is still very much alive. 

Do digital natives think the same way? The research suggests not. They think in social media terms and moving them beyond this is one of the challenges educators are having to deal with. Can we see contracts being agreed in informal language? I think not. One of the first lessons in business is understanding that the way something is worded can form the basis of a legal contract or instruction. The language used is all important. 

So it seems to be that the document creation process of create, review, finalize, approve, disseminate isn’t going to change anytime soon – certainly not in my business career and probably not in my children’s business career. 

It’s hard to see something replacing Word even with initiatives such as the Open Document Format (ODF) supported by the UK Government. However the whole point of a Black Swan event is that it comes out of left field and is extremely difficult to predict. So who knows what the future holds?

If you believe that document creation is as important as I do, I suggest you contact us at PleaseTech to find out how we could help you better face what the future might throw at you.

Industrial strength and ROI are the key

Posted by David Cornwell on 28. April 2016 09:51

Founder/CEO of PleaseTech Ltd - collaborative document review and co-authoring for the enterprise.


I gave an ‘Introduction to PleaseTech’ presentation recently in which one of the key points was that PleaseReview is ‘industrial strength’. Hundreds of documents, thousands of comments and scores of reviewers are the norm, I explained. Conveniently, a set of statistics crossed my inbox last week to confirm this.

Statistics of three relatively large hosted customers were in the email. Two of these are in the life sciences market. Two of the customers are each creating over 1,300 reviews per year. The other is creating just under 1,000. Across all three, each review includes an average of 2 – 3 documents and generates an average of just over 50 comments. So that’s, on average, per company: > 3,000 documents per year and > 60,000 comment/changes per year.

Firstly, imagine trying to do that by email? Or, if you are using an annotation technology, imagine copying and pasting over 60,000 comments/changes per year? What a waste of time!

In my blog in October 2014 I discussed the fact that a client had taken the conservative estimate that PleaseReview provides a saving of 8 hours per document for each review cycle. So, if we do the maths, PleaseReview is saving these companies, conservatively, 24,000 hours per year. If we then allocate an hourly rate of $88 per hour, (that’s an average salary of $105K per year with a typical business overhead of 75% on top of salary) that’s a saving of $2.1 million per customer per year. A fairly impressive ROI – and remember all these figures are conservative!

I think the key point here is that we constantly need to remind ourselves that document review is a business critical problem. It’s also a non-trivial business critical problem.

Over the years there have been various attempts to solve it. The annotation of PDF documents (or other such generic formats) is one option but, remember, that means that someone has to copy and paste the 60,000 + comments/changes per year! Directly editing the documents (co-authoring) is another option but that opens the document to substantive change by just about anyone involved in the process. None of these solutions has the degree of granular ‘control over who can do what to where’ which PleaseReview offers.

Copying and pasting is one thing. Reporting is another. Many companies manually produce reports on what happened to the 60K+ comments and changes.  PleaseReview does that automatically. It’s available in several formats and, when delivered in Excel, is designed for analysis. Indeed some companies consider metrics so important that a number of our larger customers have developed reports directly from the database using standard corporate reporting tools.

However, despite its unique functionality and positioning and its impressive ROI, no company is going to invest in a product which isn’t industrial strength and not able to scale to the customer's requirements. Being confident in the performance of the tools one has is, of course, vital. When that critical document deadline is approaching no-one wants to be nervous about systems failing.

Whilst industrial strength and great ROI are very important, we must also recognize that there is a major push from corporate IT departments to reduce the number of systems a user ‘touches’ in their standard day-to-day activity.

So seamless integration with 3rd party systems is another key to success. We have a whole team dedicated to developing and improving integrations with other enterprise systems.

So, with the increasing document workload, businesses want solutions which are industrial strength, have proven ROI and work with their enterprise applications. It’s a tough ask - that’s why there are so few solutions out there that can solve this business issue: if it were easy everyone would do it - it’s not easy and that's why we do!

 

 

Efficient and controlled In-document collaboration with PleaseReview for OpenText Content Server

Posted by Sarah Holden on 23. March 2016 09:44

Half of the PleaseTech marketing team.


Here at PleaseTech, partnerships with other players in the document collaboration space are very important.

An example in kind is a recent blog post published by OpenText, a global player in Enterprise Content Management. It introduces the launch of PleaseReview for OpenText Content Server, their content repository system. In their blog they explain “As organizations continue to churn out vast amounts of information on a daily basis, collaboration can become more and more challenging—with issues including the navigation of various document versions, widespread email chaos when dealing with multiple reviewers, and control issues due to the lack of complete audit trails. The end result is often missed deadlines, inferior document quality, compliance issues—and then ultimately, frustrated employees.”

The purpose of this post was to publicize a webinar that was shortly to take place: ‘PleaseTech PleaseReview for OpenText™ Content Server’.

A bit of history – whilst there has been an integration in place for over 8 years between PleaseReview and Content Server, last year OpenText recognized that effective document review was a growing issue for existing and prospective clients, especially with marketing hype surrounding Office365 and SharePoint. Recognizing that to stay a step ahead of their competitors in helping organizations collaborate more effectively in the document review process, OpenText extended the existing partnership by making PleaseTech a Technology Partner. As a result, PleaseReview can now be purchased directly from OpenText as an optional module for Content Server,

 The webinar was held earlier this month introducing PleaseReview to OpenText’s audience, and was extremely well attended. This is just the first step and we will continue to support their sales force as they start to actively promote PleaseReview.

 If you want to see how PleaseReview can improve productivity in your organization, you had better watch the webinar recording

header bg