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

Not another email attachment to review (the options)

Posted by Sarah Holden on 19. August 2013 12:00

Half of the PleaseTech marketing team.


How much effort does it take to produce all the documents that you work with? It’s a question I had rarely considered before joining PleaseTech. But faced with the mass of documentation businesses produce: policies, procedures, manuals, reports, product specs, proposals, marketing collateral (you get the drift)… and then understanding that creating these usually requires significant editing and review before final publication - usually with the input of multiple people – I now ’get’ the need for PleaseReview. 

Previously, as an independent marketing consultant, I used the ‘traditional’ manual review methods. Whilst tradition is a wonderful thing in some circumstances, in this case it is inefficient and costly. Email and tracked changes is fine if it's a ‘one-to-one’ situation. But, as soon as there are more than two people involved it becomes ‘tricky’, if not downright challenging.

Here I consider some of the alternatives available for the collaborative editing and reviewing of business documents and put forward the case that you should use the right tools if you want the job done properly - and as a result, get a better return in terms of money and time saved.

The typical document production process is a workflow that involves a few individuals or at times teams of participants. It goes something like this:

After the document has been drafted, it’s made available to one or more persons for editing (co-authoring) and review. The more extensive the document, the more people that typically become involved. This collaborative process may be repeated several times before a document is considered final. 

Organizations will typically use one of the following methods to carry this out:

Manual – Our research confirms most organizations use manual processes for document review. They muddle through by managing email attachments, copying and pasting edits into original documents, undergoing multiple review cycles, working with several document versions and may even attend several review meetings. 

Time consuming. Frustrating. Unproductive.

Generic online approaches  These are readily available and a step beyond email attachments. Examples include: Adobe Acrobat's shared PDF review and Google Drive. People can access the document online, at the same time which means time saved and fewer review cycles required.

However, solutions such as these have multiple drawbacks.  Things to look out for: do changes still have to be manually incorporated into the original document? Are users able to overwrite others' changes? Are metrics and other review activity captured in a report? Is there any review management? Does it support Word formatting and styles (the most popular document type) and are there any document confidentiality issues (as the document is hosted in the cloud)?

PDF is very popular, but annotations are extremely visual and could overwhelm the document owner:

Business collaboration platforms  These include systems such as Microsoft SharePoint (read our whitepaper), Open Text Content Server and EMC Documentum. Whilst providing a broad range of business collaboration tools, they cannot be expected to meet all the criteria required for a fully functioning, controlled collaborative editing and review solution. Co-authoring is an ‘after you ….. no, after you, I insist’ situation based on 'check-in, check-out', whilst review is typically PDF based. In our experience, document authors and reviewers quickly develop manual workarounds which take us full circle back to email attachments!  

Then there is PleaseReview. After three years at PleaseTech I understand why PleaseReview flourishes. It takes a specialist approach to the issue. Recognizing that many organizations have to meet strict regulatory, compliance or corporate standards it is designed specifically to control and manage the entire review process. It does this by:

  • making the document available in a secure, controlled and collaborative environment 
  • providing owner management and control
  • delivering specialist functionality including automatic change consolidation, easy reconciliation of comments and comprehensive reporting
  • catering for various document types such as Microsoft Word, Excel, PowerPoint and PDF 
  • offering offline and tablet review. 

The associated benefits can be summarized by improved performance – such as reduced review costs, increased time savings, greater employee efficiency and accountability, better quality documents and high user satisfaction. 


For more information on PleaseTech's collaborative review and co-authoring solution, visit: www.pleasetech.com

Why does PleaseTech use social media as part of its B2B marketing strategy?

Posted by PleaseTech Guest on 1. August 2013 15:52

Our guest blogger is...


Mary Thomas is a social media advisor to PleaseTech.  She is the founder of Concise Training and the author of ‘Social Media Made Simple’.

The first question we must address is ‘what is social media’? It’s one of those phrases which means different things to different people. A teenager may think of it as Facebook whereas a business professional may think of it as LinkedIn.  As a social media professional, I think of it as a way of engaging with a large number of people in a cost effective and time efficient way.

From a business perspective, it’s another marketing channel and within this social media channel, there are many individual channels which include some of the more famous ‘social networking’ tools as well as other channels that might not automatically spring to mind.  These include Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, Google +, blogs, video, forums, eBooks / E-articles, image sharing tools, email newsletters, FourSquare, Groupon and QR Codes.  

As a business with a specific target market, PleaseTech, for example, knows that not all of these tools are appropriate to its business and has taken a strategic approach to which channels best support its messaging to the target market and thus its overall marketing and sales activity.  Based on audience, time, resources and content, PleaseTech has picked which of these channels most effectively brings ‘to life’ its flagship product, PleaseReview, and which best supports its communications with stakeholders.  

For example, its YouTube channel (PleaseTechLtd) features an animated movie detailing the problems organizations face when trying to get large teams of people to effectively collaborate, author and review documents. YouTube is an efficient distribution mechanism which is widely understood and accepted, therefore allowing PleaseTech to easily communicate its key messages and product information in an easily digestible format to a large audience.

We all absorb information in different ways and that’s the beauty of social media, that information can be communicated visually, verbally or via the written word.  

Talking about the written word, you are currently reading PleaseTech’s brand new blog, which is beginning to build up a wealth of content through interesting articles on a variety of subjects - such as this one.  This is not entirely altruistic as the objective is to have an active blog which is part of search engine optimization and which, in turn, will increase PleaseTech’s chances of being found by search engines and becoming known as an expert in their field.  Although, in retrospect, if this is the objective it may be better to concentrate on articles on document review rather than social media!  

Building up such content is ‘content marketing’. But what exactly is content marketing? It’s a marketing technique of creating and distributing relevant and valuable content to attract, acquire, and engage a target audience.  By giving away useful information, businesses become the ‘place to go for information’.  As the brand of the business is developed, it becomes the ‘place of choice to do business with’.  In the old days, content marketing was the advert in the trade magazine which you sent off to get a white paper. Now it’s as simple as having valuable content accessible via your website, blog, etc.  

It’s important to differentiate content marketing to relationship marketing.  If you go to any face to face networking meeting, it is clear that even in the B2B world, many people will select businesses based on relationships.

If you ‘like’ somebody or a brand, you are more likely to trust them and do business with them.  The major brands use social media extensively to convey their ‘values’ and thus try and gain your support for the brand.  

In a B2B context,  it can be used to develop and build relationships with people that you know and more importantly, people you don’t know. PleaseTech is a classic example of a business which has an ‘electronic’ relationship with a great many of its clients. The relationship with such clients and prospective clients encompasses all means of communication, including this blog.

For PleaseTech, many face to face meetings take place at conferences and exhibitions across the US and Europe, but ‘touching’ people before they meet, whether that’s via a newsletter, Twitter, Google + or LinkedIn, and then, for example, supplying them with literature that allows them to scan a QR code, taking them directly to the www.pleasetech.com website, helps to build and nurture both new and existing relationships.  

All this takes both time and thought; it doesn’t just happen by accident. It’s all about strategy, resources, content, tools, audience, aims, review and measurement.  Combine these effectively and your social media will support your business goals.

PleaseReview v.5.0 is released, we're now working on v.5.1!

Posted by David Cornwell on 25. July 2013 11:20

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


The UK is basking in a wonderful summer. The best, apparently, since 1976. Obviously, I’d like to pretend that I’m too young to remember such a distant event, but, unfortunately I remember it well. I was a carefree 17 year old. How do I remember that particular summer? Well trust me, memories of long hot summers are rare if you are British!

So nearly 40 years later, here I am in another long hot summer but life has moved on and, as opposed to being carefree, I have responsibilities.  Even though PleaseReview v5.0 is out of the door, I can’t kick back, relax and sit in the garden drinking Pimms (a uniquely British summer drink which conjures up images of croquet on the lawn - for those wondering what Pimms is).

Nope – no rest for the wicked. No sooner than one release is out of the door, our attention turns to the next.  That’s the way it is in software development – an endless cycle of develop/test/release. The simple fact is that every software product in the world is a ‘work in progress’ – it’s never complete. There is always something to add, to perfect and to repair. Just keeping up with the release cycles of other vendor’s products (Windows Server 2012, Office 2013, etc.) is work enough, let alone the long list of enhancements we’d like to get done.  So now we turn our attention to v5.1.

Over the next month or so we will be inviting our clients to a series of v5.1 webinars in which we will let them know the planned scope of release and request feedback.

The improvement cycle doesn’t stop at our software. Over the last couple of months we have commissioned a new support system to provide a better experience for clients and have even updated our website with a slightly re-modelled home page.

As those who follow us will know, we're great fans of cartoons here at PleaseTech. I believe they help make serious points in a light way, which most people understand. To celebrate the launch of PleaseReview v5.0, we commissioned a couple of cartoons to highlight the new offline tablet review capability:  

 

 

Talking of cartoons, no one will have missed the fact that there has been a royal birth in the UK. We now have three kings in waiting – lucky us! However, those of you who follow our document review cartoons will have seen a cartoon regarding the royal birth before it all happened. Why do I mention this? Because, I’m pleased to say that the cartoon predicted ‘George’ as the name for a boy at odds of 5-1. I wish I’d put some cash on that outcome!

Thinking about bars…I earned a drink or three over the 4th July weekend when I undertook the WaterAid 6 Peaks challenge.  You may recall the 6 Peaks Challenge comprises climbing the tallest peaks in England, Wales, Scotland, Isle of Man and both North and Southern Ireland. The headline statistics were:

50 miles to walk

20,000 feet to climb

1,000 miles to drive (with two sea crossings)

72 hours in which to complete it

For those familiar with the UK’s ‘3 peaks’ challenge ( which involves walking the highest mountains in Scotland, England and Wales within 24 hours), the 6 peaks is like that but with a warm up (Snaefell on the Isle of Man) followed by extra time i.e. Slieve Donard in Northern Island and Corran Tuathail in Southern Ireland. We walk up Slieve Donard at night with head torches.

So, the good news is that most of us, including me, succeeded.  The better news is that the eight team members (six climbers and two drivers) were still talking to each other at the end of it all! For 72 hours we were either in a minivan being driven to the next mountain or walking up (or down) a mountain.

Luckily I had a natural advantage. Years of cattle class transatlantic travel means I can sleep anywhere. Even, it transpires, in the back of a mini bus hurtling between mountains. Others were not so fortunate and found the physical challenge difficult when compounded by the lack of sleep.  There is no mistaking it was a tough challenge and I am delighted to have completed it. I’m also delighted that we have raised about £4,500 (circa US$7,000) for the WaterAid charity. Furthermore, I’m proud that afterwards, of the six people left in the bar at 3:00am (of the circa 60 people from nine teams taking part), four were from our team!  Many thanks to all who supported us. 

Finally, I am delighted to say that we've finally managed to get our new movie released. Watch it here

 

PleaseTech releases PleaseReview v5.0 and keeps cool in the hot weather

Posted by Sarah Holden on 17. July 2013 13:35

Half of the PleaseTech marketing team.


There is always a certain amount of build-up prior to a new product release. This has certainly been the case for us here at PleaseTech. And in marketing, it’s always good to have something concrete to say. And it’s even better to be able to add ‘we’re the first’ which we can do – twice, following the release this week of PleaseReview v5.0, our collaborative document review solution.

We are the first to make it easier for busy people to catch up with the reviews waiting for their attention. The new offline tablet review (for iPad and Android) means you don’t have to be ‘connected’ to catch up. 

We are the first to help users collaborate to capture high level feedback on a document – from multiple participants, in real time, on the same feedback document. 

Ok, if you’re not involved in team reviews this may not matter to you - but to some it’s a big deal and will contribute to better productivity and better quality documents. For more detail on these and other enhancements do see our previous post or read the new release.

It is with a sense of relief for us all that the release is out the door and, now that the communication wheel is in motion and clients are already contacting us to upgrade their systems, minds are turning to the next project. That’s the thing about working for a dynamic technology company - people don’t stay still for long - there’s always more to do.

This continuous development cycle keeps us ahead of the curve and in recognition of this, we are proud to have been recently named a Gartner Cool Vendor in the social software and collaboration space. 

This accolade reflects our work ethic and some of our key success factors are recognized in their report:

- Identify opportunities early

- Offer the solution in a variety of deployment models (e.g. cloud, mobile, on-premise)

- Match new technology investments to user cases

- Continue to innovate

Why are we cool? Because, in Gartner’s words we “tackle long-standing coordination, collaboration and peer review challenges faced by teams every day regarding group writing, reviewing and editing documents in a way that transforms a complicated, burdensome experience into a  more efficient and controlled process”.

So, PleaseReview v5.0 is out of the door, but watch this space, v5.1 is already in development…  

 

Just layin' down some tracks....

Posted by Clare Beazley on 12. July 2013 11:40


Picture the scene, the offices of a software company deep in the heart of England. It's stopped raining.  The calm is then shattered when the CFO sends an instant message to her colleagues explaining why she is going to be away from her desk for an hour or so.  "I'm just off to the studio to lay down some tracks."  You can hear the stunned surprise across the ether.  Clare, an international pop star?  Actually no, I was just heading off to record the voiceover script for our new animated cartoon explaining, with humour, how PleaseReview helps solve the nightmare of document review.  And it was a first for me (not something that happens too often at my age), as I haven't even visited a recording studio, let alone been recorded.  So I spent a thoroughly enjoyable afternoon in a local recording studio in the company of Dave, a professional and excellent sound engineer, and his recording gear, to record the script.  The only downside was having to listen to the playback of my voice as we reviewed each take.  Still, all makes a change from being an accountant...

Click on this link to view the new PleaseTech movie

 

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