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!

 

Every little thing they do is magic

Posted by Sarah Edmonds on 14. August 2014 09:51

The other half of marketing... Google


It’s our job in our marketing to translate the magic.  Over in techie heaven (as they’re fondly known in PleaseTech), once the team have delivered the latest product release, it’s up to us to communicate the upgrades to the end user.  Sometimes it’s a tough gig, sitting in a meeting trying to understand what they mean when they talk about database transactions, continuous integration, encoding or regular expression… However, those are just some of the tools that have been used to design PleaseReview v5.1, but what do they mean and how do they benefit our customers?

A database transaction makes sure everything or nothing happens in a transaction.  So, if you spend $100 on groceries, a database transaction makes sure the money is both debited from your account and credited to the store’s account.  When thinking about PleaseReview it keeps the integrity of the data in sync, so if you and e.g. Tim are both online at the same time reviewing a proposal, and Tim then makes and immediately withdraws a comment, you aren’t able to reply to the comment.  Sounds obvious, but if you could reply to a comment you’d briefly seen, that had then been withdrawn there could be lots of random responses applied to a document.

Continuous integration does what it says on the tin.  It’s a development technique which continuously merges to our development servers the work developers individually do on new roll outs and integrations.  Its main aim is to prevent integration problems and to avoid one developer's work in progress breaking another developer's efforts, thus allowing our teams in the UK and Malaysia to work more effectively together.  For our customers, it means a higher quality product with fewer bugs.  So for example, PleaseReview v5.1 provides ‘post review reporting’, which delivers metrics around a review such as ‘how many proposed or rejected changes were there?’  This ‘review data’ is delivered via an Excel spreadsheet. Another 5.1 enhancement called “sub-reviews” allows a reviewer on one review to branch off their own sub-review with their own set of reviewers and then merge consolidated comments back into the original “master” review. These things were being developed by different teams at the same time but, rather than only bringing them together when they are both complete, the process of continuous integration means that every day we can test the latest sub-review code with the latest post-review reporting code to make sure they work properly together.

Character encoding represents a repertoire of characters , which is used in both computation, data storage, and the transmission of textual data At PleaseTech we use a universal coding (UTF-8) that handles letters from all alphabets.  Lots of our customers require documents to be reviewed not only by many people internal to an organisation, but also people externally who may work in different countries.  Encoding means that as a document passes between computers in different countries whose first languages may be different (French, Spanish etc.), the document doesn’t become corrupted.

What regular expression means to me, and what it means to our developers are two different things… To our techies, regular expression is a sequence of characters that forms a (potentially complex) search pattern.  This supports the new context-based review feature of PleaseReview v5.1, which allows reviewers to search for a word or phrase within a document to ensure that e.g. lower or upper case is being used correctly, or that a word or phrase is being used in its correct context.

Of course, there are lots other new benefits that can be found within PleaseReview v5.1, which is rolling out as we speak, and was talked about by Dave earlier in the year right here on this blog.  To find out more or to experience a little bit of the magic for yourself, please get in touch.  

A decent ½ year and a couple of reflections

Posted by David Cornwell on 25. July 2014 12:51

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


It’s clearly something to do with my age – but it doesn’t seem a whole six months since New Year. When I look at the wall chart (yes I still like a wall chart despite have my Outlook Calendar), I can see why the time has flown past. I personally attended eight conferences in the last six months and found time to do other stuff such as sell software and recruit a new sales VP!

So the continued success of PleaseReview means we are able to continue to invest in growing the business and recruit additional people.  As our clients know, we are an organic growth business owned entirely by management and staff.  This means we adopt a controlled approach to growth and have to ‘earn a bit to spend a bit’.

So the first bit of news is that on 1st July Barry Lyne joined PleaseTech as our Sales VP. Barry is based in Malmesbury but has travel on his agenda and I’m sure he’ll be making a few visits to existing clients as he embarks on a learning curve to understand why PleaseReview is so successful.

And successful it is! In the first half of 2014 we gained 14 new corporate clients from a range of industries. The detail and a couple of sample client names is captured in our news item here, however a key factor is that the new clients represent diverse industries including engineering, technology, professional services and, of course our core market, life sciences.

Our recent strategy has been to expand into other industries whilst not losing focus on life sciences. The practical implementation of this is attending different conferences which focus on different industries and tailoring messaging appropriately.  This is paying off and is something Barry is keen to continue.

Another interesting trend has been the move to the cloud. Historically, we have had about 25% of our clients using our cloud services and the remainder being on premise. However, around 50% of the new clients this year have opted for the cloud service. It will be interesting to see whether that trend continues as the year progresses.

One of the headaches expansion brings is increased overhead. We have been struggling for space in our current offices for some time. With the staff additions both recruited and planned, more space is required. We have identified a suitable property and plans are underway to move in the autumn. Office moves require planning and are, as we are finding, very disruptive, so if the plans all work, we will have plenty of space to accommodate expansion over the next few years.

It’s important, however, that we don’t over expand and so our cautious approach means that we continue to hold a healthy cash balance so that both new and existing clients retain supreme confidence in our longevity!

Moving onto interesting observations from our various new conference visits ………..

At most conferences we attend these days we conduct a survey into people’s document related activities. One particular phrase we have coined is ‘the document workload’ and one of the questions we are asking is whether the individuals’ document workload is increasing.

Not surprisingly the compliance professionals surveyed from the banking industry, and the quality assurance professionals surveyed from a wide variety of industries, almost universally agreed that their document workload had increased.  Increasing regulation was the most common factor when asked ‘why’.

However, again not surprisingly, the only sector not to agree that the document workload was increasingly was, yes you’ve guessed it, life sciences. Already heavily regulated, the life sciences industry probably represents the ‘pinnacle’ of regulation - so we can see that other industries are on the path to this pinnacle. This can only be good for us because where there is regulation there is documentation, and where there is documentation there is review and that’s what we do better than anyone else!

One final thing: PleaseReview v5.1 is, thankfully, finally on the verge of release. More on that subject next month.  

 

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