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

Technology...that works and meets my needs...

Posted by Sarah Edmonds on 30. June 2016 09:41

The other half of marketing... Google


How much of the technology in your life fails to work when you need it to, or simply isn’t up to the job in question? How many times have you wandered up and down streets looking for a phone signal, or nearly thrown your laptop out of a window when software that’s supposed to make your life easier, leaves you with a headache?

Whilst all we want is the technology we have to work properly, the focus seems to be on bringing more and more new tech onto the market.  Our needs are now anticipated before we know we even have them, yet looking for the right technology to meet our genuine needs can sometimes feel overwhelming.  Is it the right solution to the problem in question? How reliable is it?  Is it easy to use or am I going to need a degree in computing to figure it out?  Yes, it looks great, but HOW MUCH?

And what exactly is it that stops us seeking out the right technology?  Are we now so burnt by all the negative experiences that we’d rather put up with outdated and sometimes clumsy IT solutions, rather than seek out an alternative?  At PleaseTech we’ve researched this topic a number of times, and as you’d expect, time and money come up time and time again as the key barriers.

Specifically looking at this from a business perspective, it’s the chicken and the egg, on the one hand poor processes cost organizations millions of dollars a year in lost productivity, whilst on the other you have employees struggling with poor software tools who don’t have the time to research an alternative.  All too often, even if a solution is found, the cost is simply too high to get it past management. They eventually get fed up, quit and the business in question then has to spend thousands of dollars replacing skilled workers.   In fact on average, a study from Oxford Economics found that the cost of replacing a member of staff is $44,798, as detailed in a survey conducted in 2015 by Osterman Research for PleaseTech.

And it’s not just the cost of recruitment that’s a problem.  The Osterman research found that 77% of workers say their organizations report problems finding workers to recruit, and that IT plays an important role in their retention and motivation – for over half of respondents, it plays an important or even critical role.

Quite simply, better IT tools mean better results.  Osterman found that for 85% of respondents, it resulted in increased productivity; for 64% the ability to make decisions more quickly; for 55% better results; for 53% a happier and more satisfactory working environment, and for almost one in five, they would be more likely to stay with an organization.

So what happens when you have that magic moment, you’re surfing the web or you're at a trade show when you come across a solution that could be the genuine answer to your problems?  We already know that cost is an issue, so how do you build a business case?

Following on from our 2016 research with Osterman, we’ve been looking at exactly this issue.  The research is nearly complete and we’ll be holding a series of webinars in the fall to look at the findings in detail.

Meanwhile, we’d love to hear about your experiences.  How did you prove the business case, what clinched the deal?  What were the key stumbling blocks you came up against?  What’s life like now you’ve found a piece of software you don’t want to throw out of the window?  Let us know...

 

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.

Reflections on Oracle OpenWorld

Posted by David Cornwell on 27. September 2013 09:24

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


I’m sitting in the lounge at SFO en route home after my first ever Oracle OpenWorld. We had a booth in Moscone West – the Applications Hall. So, as a show veteran, what are my impressions?

Firstly, it’s the size of the whole event. It’s certainly the largest I’ve ever attended. I’m not sure what the final attendance figures are but the figures being bandied around are 60,000 people. I suspect that is all attendees including delegates, booth staff, Oracle staff and conference organisers but, whatever the numbers; it’s an awful lot of people.

It’s only when I ventured from our hall to the main event area (where the keynotes and the ‘Technology hall’ was located across the road, you realize the scale of the whole thing.  It’s a major logistical challenge and I thought the whole event was extremely well organized – congratulations to Oracle and the event organizers.

Secondly, the sheer number of Oracle products and breadth they cover is almost beyond comprehension. Trying to get my mind around what the various exhibiting companies were promoting was a mission impossible. So much was so far outside of my experience I had no idea!

The question then is how do you differentiate yourself? How do identify yourself in the noise and bring attention to yourself to the delegates whom may be potentially interested in your offerings – assuming that only a percentage are interested? The key is ‘simple messages’. If anything our booth wording was a case of ‘too much information’.  We just needed to get the message ‘Document Collaboration’ across.

However, on the subject of simple messages, many people did suggest that their document collaboration needs were taken care of via SharePoint.  So, Microsoft has had a lot of success with its simple message that SharePoint is the ‘document collaboration platform’.  So our challenge is to come up with an equally simple message of why you need PleaseReview if you have SharePoint!

Thirdly, whilst we were at the event to promote our new Oracle WebCenter Content integration, there was a high degree of interest in our Documentum, Open Text and SharePoint integrations. Initially this surprised me. However, when you do the rational analysis, the simple fact is that the attendees represent some of the biggest companies in the world and they have large corporate systems, which include the aforementioned Documentum, Open Text and SharePoint systems.  So, opportunities outside WebCenter Content were an unexpected and, of course, much welcomed outcome.

As usual for these big events we ran a document collaboration survey from the booth and had over 400 participants. Results will help us in our marketing and be published.  We learnt a bit about survey length and what attracts people to complete surveys. Hint: never refer to it as a survey. Ask them if they want to win the prize – who doesn’t - and then once they start they normally complete.

Finally, I’ve learnt that going to the Oracle Appreciation Event party/concert on the Wednesday night is not something I plan to do again. Bussing 50,000+ people to Treasure Island through the rush hour traffic (1 hr 45 mins from standing in line for the bus) is non-trivial. Then, when you are there, there is a long line for food, drink, the rest rooms, etc.  OK, so Maroon 5, were good (but I suspect they play to a more animated audience normally) but I’m afraid I decided to forgo the pleasure of The Black Peas and head back. Now if it had been The Black Eyed Peas it may have been a different story.

Last word: Special thanks also need to go to Oracle CEO Larry Ellison, who skipped his final keynote speech on Tuesday to attend the America's cup (congratulations Larry on a great win I’m sure they couldn’t have done it without you) giving attendees more time to experience the document collaboration benefits of PleaseReview.

 

 

We’re a lean, green collaborating machine…

Posted by Sarah Edmonds on 10. September 2013 12:18

The other half of marketing... Google


The average person produces seven times their bodyweight in rubbish each year with just over 40% of it being recycled.  Sometimes trying to be eco-friendly is a real pain.  Take energy efficient light bulbs that take seemingly ages to light a room up properly, or doing the school run with three small children on foot, and in the rain to avoid using the car…you get my point.

We try to be as green as possible here at PleaseTech; we’re corporate members of the Woodland Trust and recycle plastic, cardboard and printer cartridges to minimize our carbon footprint. 

Of course, we’re not the only ones. Most businesses have some sort of environmental policy but whilst many strive to be paperless, the demand for printer paper is at an all-time high.  Nearly all have a need to write and review all sorts of documents: procedures manuals, proposals, books, regulatory submissions, audits, contracts, assessments, the list goes on. 

In a previous life, I was the poor soul responsible for compiling annual reports, getting input from board directors, emailing round draft after draft to people who’d then dump hard copies on my desk, full of amends, some of which clashed with comments from colleagues, much of it in illegible handwriting.

Can you imagine how much paper was printed out before that report was approved – for printing? Not to mention the number of late nights spent in the office, with all the lights and computers on, to meet the deadline of finishing it? 

As consumers we strive to be greener, recycling, being a good example, but what is it that actually drives the change? In reality most people turn their heating down out of need not want - to save money, rather than energy.  Technological advances mean we have low energy, high definition TVs, but do people buy the TV to save energy or for the improved viewing experience?

It’s a similar situation in the workplace; new technologies are introduced in order to make our lives easier, save the company money or enable us to do our jobs more efficiently and, as a by-product, are also likely to drive environmental change.

Take my annual reports.  If the process of compiling the report had been easier, I’d have got the job done in half the time, the company in question would have saved a fortune in printing and electricity costs, and been ‘greener’ without even trying.

We have a client at PleaseTech who recently told us that to get just one review completed involved nearly 300 emails and even more attachments. 

How crazy is that?  But it’s not an unfamiliar tale, and one, which I’m sure most people can identify with. 

Controlled document collaboration software is relatively new, and was sought out initially by companies heavily regulated with a key business requirement to comply with strict industry guidelines, such as in Life Sciences.  However, the impact of what it can help businesses to achieve is gaining momentum across other industry sectors. It’s now considered a ‘cool’ technology by leading analysts such as Gartner and Ovum, and the range of organizations using it includes the big pharmaceuticals, financial institutions and energy firms to consultancies, universities and small businesses

And why? Well the answer is simple really, customers report that it cuts the time taken to edit and review documents by up to 65%, or to put it another way, gives them an extra month’s employee productivity every year.

The environmental impact is obvious.  Let’s say you have 10 team members working on a 50 page document.  Each person prints the document out twice.  That’s 1,000 pieces of paper.  They do that every month and you have 12,000 pieces of paper.  Estimates suggest one tree produces 8,333 pieces of A4 paper, so do the maths, that’s 1.4 trees saved. 

Some of our customers have 20+ people working on documents that are regularly over 200 pages in length, and there may be several documents that the business is working on each month.  The environmental saving is potentially huge, but arguably, a bi-product of the business wanting to operate more efficiently.

So in PleaseReview we have a piece of software that is easy to use, supports employee efficiency, saves businesses huge amounts of time, improves document quality and helps organizations offset their carbon footprint.   No wonder Gartner think we’re cool.

 

 

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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