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

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  Are we now so burnt by all the negative experiences that we’d rather put up with outdated and sometimes clumsy IT solutions, rather than seek out an alternative?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...

 

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!

 

 

Document review is a non-trivial business problem for many companies

Posted by David Cornwell on 2. October 2014 11:46

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


How do we know that document review is a non-trivial business problem for many companies? The answer is quite simply that we spend our time talking with existing and prospective clients who have done the analysis. In order to justify a PleaseReview investment, they take the time and trouble to look at the benefits and build a business case and, if we are lucky, they share it with us!

For example, last week I was with a PleaseReview prospective customer. We were discussing the business case on which his PleaseReview project is based. He explained that the first business case he had calculated showed such a large benefit that he had to revise it as he didn't think it would be believed! He then recalculated it using conservative assumptions. These included only including those reviews with more than four participants and only taking into account the time saved by the document author not having to consolidate comments and changes with the ‘copy and paste’ process. BTW: This 'conservative' business case was estimated to save an average of eight hours per document - that is a working day!

In this particular company, there were 'thousands' of documents reviewed per year.

Furthermore, no consideration was given to the time saving at review meetings or any of the other standard benefits delivered by a PleaseReview system. And yet, even without this, the payback on the project was well under six months!

We know another company based its PleaseReview business case purely on the time saved in review meetings. During the software pilot, meetings which were scheduled to take all day were completed in a matter of hours. Thousands of hours per year would be saved if they went ahead with the purchase. This made PleaseReview a ‘no brainer’.

But, I hear you cry, statistics! I need statistics!

Well how about these statistics from live PleaseReview systems?

I found the following numbers from one of our clients: over a six year period this client has had around 20,000 documents involved in about 6,000 reviews, so an average of 3.4 documents per review and 3,333 documents per year. The user base is close to 1,500 and the client has historically had an average of 12 participants involved in each review.

So, if my sums are correct and assuming that the client gets the same level of saving (i.e. eight hours per document) over the last six years this client has conservatively saved around 26,600 hours per year. Let’s say that is an over estimate and base the calculation on reviews rather than documents. The figures now show a saving of ‘only’ 8,000 hours per year (based on 1,000 reviews, each with an eight hour saving) which equates to over 660 hours per month or 83 days per month. This is a considerable benefit.

Reviews can, of course, contain many comments and changes and the time saving will depend on the number of comments and changes.

Data from another client extracted from a single month in the middle of 2013, reveals an average of 175 comments/review. However, this is slightly skewed by the fact that one review had over 3,000 comments/changes whilst another had over 250! However, if you eliminate the extremes there was an average of just under 50 comments/changes per review.

I was actually sitting in a meeting at this client’s site when the above statistics were discussed. A senior manager was absolutely amazed that they had a business process which involved so many documents and so many people reviewing them. The ‘front line’ team explained that, before PleaseReview, it was a ‘horrid’ process that had taken weeks and now at least it was under some sort of control. In fact, the users now felt that they couldn’t do their job without PleaseReview. Further proof that document review really is a non-trivial business process.

Another client says: “we have cut the review time of most documents in half and turnaround time is much faster with the comments being automatically collated. I can’t say enough about the time that we have saved”. They also noted that the production of productivity reports was simplified.

Productivity reporting brings up the question of metrics. I’ve just quoted statistics from thousands of reviews with thousands of comments from a user base of thousands. Who has got time to collate that stuff? The answer is, of course, a database. It’s all there in the database and therefore it takes a matter of minutes to calculate the statistics.

How many people have any metrics around their document review process? Those using PleaseReview do. With metrics comes the ability to look at the business process – if only to show amazement that you have such a process!

PleaseReview v5.1 introduced additional analysis options including the ability to examine the data by document section using Excel.  Using standard Excel analysis features such as pivot tables, it is possible to rapidly produce reports on, for example, the number of accepted and rejected comments and changes per document section.

A simple sample report is shown below. The report details the number of rejected comments and changes per document section in the review. Using standard Excel filters this could, for example, be restricted to rejected changes, or comments, or any combination of desired search criteria.  This gives users a great tool for improving the quality of future documents, identifying training requirements, and so on.  

 

 

So it can be seen that PleaseReview can scale to very large user bases and review requirements.

However, of course, not every client is going to have such extreme requirements. Remember that the figures presented were averages. These clients run some very small reviews, with single documents as well.

The key point is that, without PleaseReview, the basic process of document review is an inefficient and cumbersome one. Highly paid and highly skilled medical and technical writers should not be spending their time copying and pasting! It’s hardly an efficient use of people’s time, energy and enthusiasm. With everyone pressed for time and having to ‘do more with less’, efficiency is mandatory.

Obviously the examples I have quoted are based around larger, heavily document intensive companies, but the same pain points and advantages are experienced by smaller companies with smaller teams. With smaller teams the relative percentage savings can be just as large. We have clients who gain significant benefits from just a user base of 30 people as well as those with thousands of people.

PleaseReview streamlines the process, saves everyone time and pays for itself in no time at all. Perhaps that is why, in an average year, 30% of our revenue comes from existing clients buying more licenses and 50% of our clients have purchased additional licenses.  Repeat business is the best endorsement a company can have and it acts as a great encouragement to the entire team.

So, many thanks to our clients – please keep up the good work and keep making the savings.  And don't forget to keep telling us about it!

 

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