Posted by Sarah Holden on 26. November 2013 13:56
Half of the PleaseTech marketing team.
An article featuring a recent independent evaluation of PleaseReview has just been published by DM Magazine, a UK publication specializing in document and enterprise content management technologies. The article covers the product's newest enhancements following its major v5.0 release and also the strategy behind its development. In my opinion, it make for good reading, and so have included it verbatim here!
Written by Dave Tyler, Editor, Document Manager Magazine
We first looked at PleaseReview a couple of years ago, at which time it was already on its way to becoming established as a unique and powerful tool: whether reviewing or co-authoring documents within a department, across the enterprise (inside or outside the firewall) or with customers, partners and suppliers, PleaseReview expedites the process within its secure, structured and controlled environment. .
The product is now effectively the de facto standard 'tool for the job' in the Life Sciences marketplace. The company claims that what it describes as 'document-centric collaboration' is set to grow steadily over the next few years, driven by a combination of tightened economic strictures and an increased need for better collaboration.
The newest version of PleaseReview, v5.0 boasts a significantly enhanced interface, with a far cleaner look and feel that fits neatly into the current Windows environment - including tight integration with SharePoint 2007/2010/2013. Support for mobile users has been present since 2011, but the new version also includes a useful offline mode, which enables users to review documents while on a plane, for instance, using a zero-footprint client that works as well on tablets as on laptops.
PleaseTech has a clear strategy for the development of this product which they describe as 'Beyond Review', a key element of which is to better support enterprise rollout. The enhanced mobile/flight mode is part of this, as is the excellent SharePoint integration and improved user interface. Users are now presented with a window that looks much more like a Word document (which is of course the office tool that most will be using on a regular basis). Other minor but thoughtful enhancements include a countdown timer to remind users of when a document needs to be reviewed by, and nicely modernised toolbars that suit the current Windows user experience.
Another important innovation is the introduction of Feedback management, allowing the capture of high level feedback on a document (or document sets): this gives a whole new level of functionality to those who utilise PleaseReview on bids, proposals and similar documents. The reporting capabilities of the software have often been a key selling point according to PleaseTech, and the Feedback improvements can only help their cause, as well as helping them address their desire to move across the enterprise.
Another enterprise-class enhancement is in the configurability of the product itself. Intuitive administrator menus allow for the setup of different views and capabilities for different levels of user. For example, casual users can have a more simplified interface than regular users. There have also been improvements to ReviewZones which control who can comment where in Word documents. Less senior staff might only be able to view and comment on specific paragraphs that are relevant to their business unit, for instance, while project managers are given far more control and wider access.
Version 5 is a major step forward from the software we looked at just a couple of years ago in terms of configurability, user interface and reporting and management. V5.1, promised for early 2014, is intended to take PleaseTech's stated aim of 'Beyond Review' even further, with more specialist review tools and unique functionality.
More info: www.pleasetech.com
PleaseReview continues to be a product that stands alone in its functionality and power, while broadening its appeal to additional market sectors and presenting itself as an enterprise-ready tool - mobile enhancements are a particularly nice touch.
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
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.
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…
Posted by Sarah Holden on 6. June 2013 14:04
Half of the PleaseTech marketing team.
Whilst Dave Cornwell, our CEO, has maintained an (almost) regular blog for several years, we’re expanding and inviting others from within and outside PleaseTech to join him.
The intent is to provide different viewpoints, cover various areas of interest and tap into the different mindsets of the individuals who work here or who are otherwise involved in document collaboration. Having been with PleaseTech for almost three years (goodness, already three years) I have come to appreciate and enjoy the very ‘special’ and diverse personalities I come into contact with and so look forward to reading what they have to say.
To accommodate these plans, we have moved our blog from a generic provider so that it is now hosted directly by PleaseTech. There are several advantages to us including improved SEO, increased brand awareness, control of our content and freedom of design. Also, being a technology company, we have all the expertise on hand if anything breaks!
So, moving forward, you will see regular posts from PleaseTech, covering company updates, opinions, shared knowledge, industry news and more.
From a marketing perspective, our blog will deal with some of the challenges we face and what we are doing to overcome them. A recent survey of over 800 marketers conducted by the B2B Technology Marketing community on LinkedIn earlier this year confirmed what we face:
‘The number one challenge for B2B marketers is generating high quality leads’
The full survey results are certainly worth a read and provide some pointers into what works better in terms of marketing activity. Our challenges specifically come down to:
Finding the right person to talk to – whilst for some industries this is clear, document collaboration is often managed by a diverse range of people across the organization.
Education – many use workarounds or solutions that enable basic collaboration, and, in doing so, put up with the inefficiencies and frustrations inherent with these practices/solutions. They know no better (or have not had the time to research an alternative) and so their expectations are low, especially if their IT department has told them that the existing solution is ‘state-of-the-art’.
Convincing the IT dept. – Dave has covered this in previous blog posts and it continues to be a challenge. Business users are the ones who experience document collaboration issues, but frequently have to ‘live’ with the solutions provided by IT who often have the final say in how the dollars are spent.
Finding our ‘voice’ – whilst we know our business inside out, we continue to strive to know more about the different industry sectors and business disciplines we work with. It’s all very well knowing why our product is better and different but we have to touch the right chords with those we speak with. How can we help? What’s in it for them? What can they learn from us?
In future blog posts we will touch on some of the activities we have planned and that are currently underway to meet these challenges. We will share research, customer insights, best practices and independent expert contributions.
So, to gain an inside view into the workings of a technology company and all the cogs that make the wheel turn, as well as industry insights, personal deliberations and more, do sign up to catch the posts as they appear.