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

Review scenarios – PleaseTech explores the options

Posted by Sarah Holden on 5. March 2015 10:20

Half of the PleaseTech marketing team.


As we have mentioned in previous blog posts, document review is an experience most of us are familiar with and, especially in the workplace, are required to work with others to get it done (think product specs, requirements documents, regulatory submissions, marketing material, proposals etc.).  We may simply send said document out by email for review and editing, or share it with others via a shared workspace, sit around a table and thrash it out…you have probably tried a bit of everything. A recent whitepaper we have published found that amongst a specific business user community we surveyed¹, the majority (62%) rely on email. We also know from earlier research² that people using email as a means of sharing documents for review experience issues as outlined below:

 

Of course not everyone will experience the frustrations highlighted in the table above and the use of email will suit their review requirements perfectly, but there are lots of people reading this who will identify with many of the issues.  There are different review scenarios to suit different user needs, which should be considered. These range from an uncontrolled process (e.g. using email or Google Drive) through to a highly restricted one (such as PDF annotation technology). It is important to find the one that suits you, as carrying on with a ‘make do’ solution affects performance, causes frustrations, wastes time and ultimately impacts the quality of the final document. 

This infographic demonstrates some of the features of each review scenario (please click on the image to see it larger).

And if you are feeling a slight degree of dissatisfaction with your process, or are simply curious, have a go at our questionnaire (results are totally anonymous) and see where you fit on the review spectrum.

 

 

¹Survey conducted amongst Oracle users, October 2014

²Survey conducted amongst Oracle users, October 2013

 

 

 

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!

 

The road trip awaits.....

Posted by David Cornwell on 31. October 2013 16:41

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


I’m about to start a three week road trip around the USA which will take in four conferences and two clients visits. This will require eight flights, two car hires and seven different hotels spanning Washington DC; Columbus, OH; San Diego, CA; Dallas, TX; Los Angeles, CA; and Orlando, FL – in that order!

As I sit here in the PleaseTech office quietly contemplating the task ahead and running through mental checklists, I do wonder why I do these things?

Someone needs to be out there educating people about the true value of genuine document collaboration especially when considered in the context of the document review process. 

For example, our recent SharePoint research highlighted the fact 75% of those surveyed said that SharePoint provides the document collaboration requirements needed, yet well over 50% are still using email for document review and 25% still using hard copy - this is despite document creation and review playing a 'significant' role in 66% of respondent's jobs! Just think of the wasted time and effort that these statistics represent. No wonder the adjective ‘pain’ is the one most closely associated with the document review process for many people.

Why is this so important? Well I just love this quote from Alan Pelz-Sharpe, of 451 Research: “A firm’s ability to innovate is closely tied to its ability to collaborate”.   And the people we surveyed agree. Over 90% of respondents agreed that enhancing document collaboration is important to their organization.

So collaboration and especially document collaboration is important and runs to the very heart of business success, and why? Because it adds real value.

Analysts such as Ovum recognize that, within document collaboration, “document review is a specialist area and document management and enterprise content management (ECM) platforms do not always include the required level of management and control”.

And it is a complex area. Our survey revealed that 56% of people have 6 or more people involved in the document review process whilst 27% had over 20 people involved in the document edit and reviewing process. Imagine having to manage the email correspondence of 20 reviewers and having to compile their comments and proposed changes into the master document! Yet this is what people are still doing!

So I’ll be at the ISPE conference (International Society for Pharmaceutical Engineering) in Washington DC swiftly followed by the AMWA conference (American Medical Writers Conference) in Columbus, OH. Then the PMI PMO conference (Project Management Institute  - Project Management Office) in San Diego, CA followed by a couple of client visits ‘en route’ to the OpenText Enterprise World conference in Orlando, FL.

At these conferences I’ll be explaining to people that ‘yes, there is a better way’. We can remove the pain and make your document review process efficient, transparent and controlled – and a whole lot more.

 

The things we do to bring the message of collaboration to the businesses of America!

 

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

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