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

Looking back at 2014 and forward to 2015 - views from PleaseTech CEO, David Cornwell

Posted by David Cornwell on 19. January 2015 12:16

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


Welcome to 2015 which has started at a gallop!  

As is traditional, the first part of my January blog is somewhat repetitive as I say that the previous year was yet another successful one for PleaseTech with revenue growth, new clients and some great product enhancements! 

2014 delivered 25% growth in sales order value over 2013 with 36 new clients and a massive 35% growth in annual recurring revenue (ARR).  Of particular note is that revenue from term license sales rose over 70% reflecting the industry trend towards renewable licenses.  Maintaining the headline sales growth whilst, at the same time, boosting ARR growth is, we think, an impressive achievement.

I am a fully paid up member of the ‘turnover is vanity, profit is sanity and cash is reality’ brigade. So I’m delighted to report that we remain profitable and continue to retain a healthy cash balance. Profit gives us the ability to invest in new people and to further grow the business, which is exactly what we plan to do in 2015.

With approximately 65% of 2014 sales, the trend of Life Sciences being our largest sector continues. However, this is down from 80% last year reflecting our success in expanding into other sectors. Once again, North America is our largest market accounting for 77% of all sales. This is in line with the trend of North America averaging around 73% of sales over the last five years.

In terms of product, 2014 saw the release of PleaseReview v5.1. Key enhancements included: 

  • The introduction of a context-based review capability; 
  • Additional review workflow capabilities such as hierarchical/tiered reviews;
  • Enhanced post-review reporting capabilities; 
  • An optional Archive feature;
  • Enhancements to the review templating capability now called ‘Review Types’;
  • Enhancements to the configurability of the system to facilitate its use in large corporations with disparate configuration requirements;
  • A cost-center licensing capability. 

These enhancements continue to establish our thought leadership in the critical business process of document review, which is exemplified by our ‘Beyond Review’ strategy. This strategy uses the metrics from the business process optimization associated with using PleaseReview, for further analysis and optimization. 

We continue to have our enterprise clients at the forefront of our thinking and conversations with them both in terms of the infrastructure challenges they face and in the details of the complexities of their review requirements continue to drive our development. 

Once again 2014 saw customer praise for our service and support. For example, a customer commented: “I definitely have to say that your company has raised the bar for vendor support.  Nick continues to go above and beyond my expectations for support.  I truly appreciate everything your team does.”

As ever we continue to develop partner relations and deliver new integrations. Last year we delivered integrations with Veeva Vault, CARA for Documentum and OKTA.

All of this was accomplished whilst, at the same time, undertaking one of the most stressful things a company can do which is the move to larger premises!  

So, looking back I think we can be proud of what we achieved in 2014. 

What can we expect in 2015?  Well, from our perspective the answer is: more of the same.  We will continue to work hard and deliver excellent software. 

We expect to release PleaseReview v6.0 which will include a substantial upgrading of PleaseReview’s user interface. The idea is to borrow from the consumer web so that anyone familiar with standard consumer technologies and web applications will feel immediately ‘at home’ when reviewing a document in PleaseReview. This approach will help minimize training and will support enterprise-wide rollout and adoption for new and existing clients to increase their ROI.

Work on other integrations and partnerships is a constant theme as is expansion of the team.  Already 2015 has seen two new starters!

From a personal perspective a year wouldn’t be the same without a physical challenge or two. There is early stage planning for Everest Base Camp but, for more immediate motivation, I have signed up for the South Wales Three Peaks Trial Gold walk at the end of March, which is a 20 mile walk with a total ascent of 5,000 feet. That will keep me focused for now!

If you want to follow what we are up to here at PleaseTech, do visit our website or follow our LinkedIn company page.

Thanks!

 

The ‘realistic SharePoint’ era?

Posted by David Cornwell on 2. September 2014 12:54

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


Apparently when you are a CEO of a growing company there comes a tipping point when you stop telling everyone what to do and start being told by your staff what to do! "David, we need a blog entry from you on SharePoint" - was the command from marketing. So, being a dutiful, obedient servant to the cause, here it is.  

It was actually moderately topical because whilst on holiday with friends, a couple of us were chewing the cud over a glass or two and he was complaining that you can’t get SharePoint developers for love or money in central London. I questioned why they were developing in SharePoint but he didn’t know (he is an accountant and was only interested in the money side of the equation). Anyway, we talked through the ‘trough of disillusionment’ and whether we are entering the ‘post SharePoint’ era as some seem to believe. 

Personally, I don’t think we are entering the post SharePoint era but I do hope we are entering the ‘realistic SharePoint’ era. This is the era when  people work out what SharePoint does well and what it doesn’t do well. 

I guess it is what Gartner calls the ‘slope of enlightenment’ in its Hype Cycle model. In the model, the slope of enlightenment follows the 'trough of disillusionment' which follows the ‘peak of inflated expectations’. Check out this link for an overview of the model.

And, let’s be honest, expectations have been inflated. PleaseTech, along with many others I'm sure, suffers from IT departments the world over saying "SharePoint can do that ..... it’s the collaboration platform/it’s the records management platform/and it’s the [insert term here] platform."

In my opinion, this is partly the fault of the Microsoft hype. I’ve personally sat in presentations given by Microsoft personnel where they explain to the audience that SharePoint does everything and there is no need for anything else.  

Unfortunately, some people seem to have been listening to the presentations and appear to have been swayed by Microsoft's marketing. In the trade this is known as drinking the Microsoft 'kool aid'. They emerge from these sessions repeating in rote ‘SharePoint can do that’. 

No it can’t – not everything. Stop people. Take time to understand the problem (aka the requirement) and research the best method of delivering it. BTW, here is a clue: The answer is not always SharePoint. 

When it comes to PleaseReview and what it offers, SharePoint CAN’T DO IT.  Not out of the box, not with lots of clever development of workflow, not at all. And, the unfortunate thing is, organizations waste millions of dollars trying to make SharePoint do what PleaseReview does when all they have to do is buy a license from us, buy our SharePoint integration license, deliver to the business, save a load of development dollars and bask in the reflected glory of a job well done.  

Too often the end user client wants our software but has to fight tooth and nail with IT as their response is ‘SharePoint can do that’.

I am personally aware of several projects where thousands, if not hundreds of thousands, of dollars have been spent trying to make SharePoint do what PleaseReview does. Recently we had a series of emergency presentations with a prospect because the committee was meeting to approve a project which was going to throw ‘good money after bad’ and spend even more money on a failed SharePoint project. The project was trying to emulate PleaseReview functionality. I’m pleased to say that it appears, even at the 11th hour, that common sense has prevailed and PleaseReview looks like it will be the preferred option.

It seems that the basic problem is that, when it comes to SharePoint, the ‘Law of the Instrument’ (otherwise known as Maslow’s hammer) applies. The law is typified by the saying ‘if all you have is a hammer, all problems look like a nail’ and, what it means is, people become over reliant on familiar tools. 

This is perhaps why in their 'Collaborative Credentials'  report, the Mando Group (a UK based web design and SharePoint consultancy) have found that the majority of Microsoft SharePoint users are 'disillusioned' with SharePoint implementations. When you start to believe that every requirement simply needs hitting with the SharePoint hammer you lose sight of the fact that not every requirement resembles a nail. Sometimes it's better to screw things together, sometimes to glue them together and sometimes to weld them together. Hammers are blunt instruments, after all. 

So, I do look forward to the dawning of a new age, the age of ‘realistic SharePoint’. This will be an age in which there is a new sense of enlightenment, where there will be less kool aid consumed, where appropriate tools for the job in hand will be used and, as a consequence, where PleaseTech’s revenue will go through the stratosphere! Let the sun shine in!

For more information on how PleaseReview works with SharePoint, please visit our website or contact us.

  

 

Are you being served?

Posted by Barry Lyne on 31. July 2014 12:00

PleaseTech's VP of Sales


Hello to all our customers, prospects, followers and friends – it’s great to be part of the team at PleaseTech, working from our sunny (for the moment) offices in Malmesbury, UK.

My first impressions are that we have a great client base but there is much more opportunity for us to grow our revenues with new geographies and industry verticals. Product knowledge is vitally important in any sales role - I feel lucky that PleaseReview is so intuitive to use – and wish it had been available in previous companies, it would have made getting complex bids & proposals and other documents out such a breeze.

One of my key goals is to make it easier for potential customers to take advantage of our solutions, we recognize that in today’s ‘post-recession’ economy nobody is buying software unless they can demonstrate tangible business benefits and that is why we continue to focus on building tools to help our clients in this area.

David Cornwell, PleaseTech’s CEO observed in his latest blog post that clients are reporting their ‘document workload’ is increasing, mainly due to greater regulatory pressures and the growing need to be compliant. Close to my heart is how we, as a team, help our clients to evaluate, and importantly quantify the business benefits of PleaseReview. Some of you may be familiar with our Collaboration Questionnaire which helps individuals and companies assess their collaboration needs and the document processes they have in place within their organization. If you’ve completed the questionnaire please get in touch - we can also help you to quantify the real business benefits to your organisation using our ROI (return on investment) calculator. It’s a great tool developed using metrics gathered over many years so take advantage of this experience and discover how to solve the problem of your escalating ‘document workload’.

We have a very active conference and exhibition program and as my diary begins to fill up I am really looking forward to meeting as many of you as possible over the coming weeks and months. And if you’re not a customer yet please get in touch or watch our movie and let’s see if any of our solutions can help to make your job easier at the same time as helping your company be more efficient.

An increasing document workload

Posted by David Cornwell on 2. June 2014 10:44

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


As you may be aware, PleaseTech attends a large number of conferences every year. Not only do we have a booth/stand to show our products and chat with existing and prospective customers, but also in order to get additional insight as to the pressures driving prospective clients, we conduct research at these conferences. This normally takes the form of a brief iPad questionnaire which we ask delegates to complete.

Where we get a statistically meaningful sample, we publish the results of this research as White Papers and webinars. The research tends to be geared towards the conferences’ specific industry or discipline, so the results from different conferences are not always directly comparable.

However, one of the recurring themes we see in this research is the increase in what we are calling the ‘document workload’. I’m thinking of the document workload as the number of documents required to achieve a certain goal. If that goal is running a successful business then let’s define it as the number of documents required to run the business.  Another way to think of it is, the number of documents required to do your job, or that you come across in your job. 

There is no doubt that the document workload is increasing. That’s what people tell us and it’s what we observe in our own business. Why? Well, the standard answer is the increased regulatory and legislative overhead and resulting increased emphasis in procedures and client auditing requirements. 

The phrase ‘If it’s not documented it didn’t happen’ (or similar wording) is well known, especially in the FDA-regulated Life Sciences market, which historically has been and remains our largest market. This is the corollary of procedures where it’s commonly stated that: 'If a process is not documented it doesn’t exist’. Whilst these clichés have always been true in Life Sciences, if you search for the terms you will find them equally applicable to Legal, Government, Healthcare, etc.

So the good news is that the document workload is increasing. Good news? Yes, very much so if you are a vendor in the ‘document workload mitigation’ industry. Whilst I suspect that the ‘document workload mitigation’ industry isn’t an officially recognized industry sector, it’s really the reason why there is so much focus on document management and document collaboration - a recognized sector which PleaseTech is very much part of. 

This increase in the document workload leads directly and unequivocally to an increase in the ‘review workload’. An increase in the review workload means an increase in demand for PleaseReview. In fact, we would argue that the review workload is a significant percentage of the effort required in dealing with the document workload. 

We have previously documented the results of our research which suggest that people have a low expectation of document collaboration solutions. Everyone just assumes that there is no way around the ‘tracked changes nightmare’. As the document workload increases, so will that nightmare and the associated pain. 

Mitigation is all about the reduction of pain and one of the things I’ve come to understand in my long career is that in order to sell a software product it must solve a pain point. If it doesn’t solve a pain point there won’t be a compelling ROI and it becomes a ‘nice to have’ - and no one has the time or budget for that stuff these days. 

Whilst I was thinking about the document workload and collating the ideas as a subject for this blog post, I thought a bit of research of my own was in order. I was hoping to find some research which quantified the increase of the document workload on businesses. From that I reasoned I could work out the increase in the review workload. I was somewhat surprised to find that there doesn’t appear to be much, if any, research on the subject. A search for ‘document workload’ resulted in nothing meaningful. Likewise ‘document burden’ didn’t produce anything interesting. There were a number of vendors talking about the ‘document burden’ but no hard research.

So, I’m thinking that we need to start researching this. We need to find out by how much the document workload is increasing year on year. We need to ask people what percentage of the document workload they estimate can be attributed to the review workload and what the pain is, in real terms, of the review workload. The output of all this research is a marketing campaign!

If you wish to be a part of this research, please let us know by emailing us at marketing@pleasetech.com!

 

PleaseTech and Oracle® introduce WebCenter Content’s new collaborative document review capabilities

Posted by Sarah Holden on 24. January 2014 10:10

Half of the PleaseTech marketing team.


It’s been a couple of weeks since we announced our PleaseTech integration with Oracle’s WebCenter Content ECM platform. We are now following that up by hosting a brief webinar to demonstrate both what this partnership brings and how it works.

Oracle’s WebCenter Content allows businesses to not only consolidate and manage their documents and content from a central platform, but now has the added capability to address a very specific, yet prolific business issue. How to collaboratively edit, review and co-author a document at the same time as others, whilst maintaining control over the document, management over the process and adherence to corporate compliance requirements. Oh, and making it easy to do, too!

The webinar will be presented by PleaseTech CEO, Dave Cornwell and Senior Principal, Product Management, Oracle.

So simply sign up! LINK to webinar page.

Webinar: Collaborative document review within Oracle WebCenter Content

Thursday January 30th, 2014: 12 noon, EST / 9am PST / 5pm GMT

Duration: 30 minutes

 

We look forward to you joining us next week.

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