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

A poem...about document review...

Posted by Sarah Edmonds on 6. October 2016 11:38

The other half of marketing... Google


In celebration of National Poetry Day, we've penned our own little rhyme.  Our subject matter, is, of course, document review....

It’s National Poetry Day 

The boss did say

“A job for you…”

Pen me a poem about document review

Perhaps a joke

About some folk

Who gathered round

To tackle the mound

Of proposals, specifications, policies and procedures 

The time it was taking was causing them seizures

The tracked changes, sticky notes and marked up pages

Was quite simply taking them ages 

Conflicting comments, copy and pasting 

Manpower time it sure was wasting

There had to be a better way

Or some extra staff they’d have to pay

So on the world wide web they did some surfing

And let me tell you this left them smirking

For a solution to their problems they had found

Heroes of the department they were crowned

The answer to their problems was easy

PleaseReview - it makes document review breezy

Yes, we know this rhyme is cheesy

But don’t let collaborative review leave you queasy

PleaseTech.com is what you need

Then of your problems you’ll be freed

 

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  Are we now so burnt by all the negative experiences that we’d rather put up with outdated and sometimes clumsy IT solutions, rather than seek out an alternative?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...

 

Lessons learnt when organizing and hosting a customer user group meeting

Posted by Sarah Edmonds on 15. December 2015 13:01

The other half of marketing... Google


We recently ran a PleaseTech user group meeting for our life science customers in Cambridge, MA.  It was the first that we’ve done for a while and was always going to be a learning curve, but which elements of the day did we get right and what would we do differently next time?

Given the number of times we’d been asked about a user meeting, we were surprised that our greatest challenge was getting people to sign up to the meeting.  We have well over 100,000 PleaseReview users, a majority of which are in the Life Sciences area and therefore count as the target audience. However, we are typically not in touch with any more than a handful of key account contacts at each client. We expected that promoting the event to these key contacts would spread the word and that this approach would be adequate.  But it wasn’t and we weren’t getting anything like the expected registrations. So the issue we faced was how to effectively mass mail hundreds of customer contacts.

Over the years, we’ve used a couple of different e-marketing tools, neither of which seem to have got round the problem of corporate firewalls rejecting the email, or allowing it through but recognising it as spam.  That said, a few emails must have got through as a handful (and I do mean a handful) of people signed up this way. But as for everyone else, to say it was like pushing water uphill to get a commitment is an understatement.

So we had a massive push to get a critical mass of delegates. Personal emails, phone calls etc. We succeeded but it was a close run thing. On the positive side it did mean that a vast majority of the people who registered did turn up and we had a less than 10% ‘no show’ rate. It’s a challenge to know how to get a closer relationship with the actual end users as most clients just get on and use our software without the need for constant support or assistance.  

As the meeting showed, nothing beats one on one interaction with customers and this is certainly an area of our business we’re paying close attention to – over the last 12 months we’ve expanded our account management team and are actively trying to engage more closely with clients. Although, again this is limited to key account contacts as a vast majority of users have no desire, or indeed time, to spend valuable minutes chatting with us.   

With better engagement with key account contacts, if we were to repeat the same meeting in 18 months’ time, maybe we would have more success in attracting attendees.  However, for this particular event it took hours and hours of one on one emails and telephone calls to drum up just 21 people in total.  To say we were surprised and slightly disappointed in equal measure wouldn’t be too far from the truth. 

There are still lots of questions we don’t have the answers to; do customers actually want to engage with us in this way? Are we using the right marketing tools?  Are there any other formats which might work better?

In the end, we were 24 people strong, including our CEO, David Cornwell, our VP of Sales, Barry Lyne and myself.  So what about the event itself? 

Starting with the basics, feedback suggested that the venue was good and easy to get to, although a couple of attendees commented it would have been better nearer to public transport stops.  Food wise, we opted for healthier options rather than lots of bread and cookies, which was definitely appreciated.   There were complaints about the coffee, but as this was provided by the hotel, I’m not sure what we could have done about that, short of finding a Starbucks!

A key piece of advice I’d give is to investigate, before booking your venue, whether there’s a minimum banqueting spend, and what taxes, services charges and other costs they add onto the bill -  we were shocked at just how much this added to the final bill.

As we had anticipated a higher number of attendees it transpired that the venue was not ideal especially from a ‘cost per head’ perspective.  If we were to do this again, for the small number of attendees we succeeded in getting, I would look into a restaurant with a private dining room (intimate presentation and round table discussions followed by a nice meal). However, it’s a difficult decision as you really need to settle the venue before the invite.

What about the timings of the day?  We opted for 9am-5pm, but in a busy city such as Boston, we should have taken into consideration peak traffic times – in retrospect 10am-4pm may have worked better for people.  Of course, if you’re providing overnight accommodation, this gives you greater flexibility. 

In terms of the content of the day, we gave a number of presentations – a business update, an overview of the latest version of PleaseReview (v5.2) and an insight into our next major release, PleaseReview v6, which is due out next year.  We also ran a couple of ‘Over to the floor’ sessions, which proved hugely popular. 

Giving customers the time and space to ask questions and to discuss product improvements was invaluable both to us and them.  Attendees genuinely appreciated being listened to, and if we could go back and make just one change to the day, it would have been to allow more time for these sessions.

Lastly, we also filmed each of the presentations so others who couldn’t attend would benefit. We anticipated the need for microphones for the presenters to ensure that the recording duly captured the wise words of the presenters, but failed to anticipate the many questions and interactions from the floor. With even the relatively small hotel room we used, wandering floor microphones are a must if you want to hear the questions being asked, so my advice would be to always have microphones to hand.  The resulting film of the presentations have been made available to users via our PleaseReview LinkedIn User Group.  This is a private, members’ only approved group. 

So looking back, do we think it was worth running the meeting?  Being able to spend one on one time with customers is something we genuinely enjoy and find hugely useful.  We’re very grateful to all those who attended for taking the time out of their busy schedules to come along and hope they found it beneficial – we’ve taken their feedback and ideas back to our development team, and some of it will inevitably shape how PleaseReview functions in the future. 

On the flip side it was a very expensive day when you work out the total cost per head.  Will we run another one?  With the benefit of hindsight and lessons learnt, yes is probably the answer, potentially for our European customers next, so watch this space and please sign up…

Raising PleaseTech’s profile through analyst relations

Posted by Sarah Edmonds on 28. May 2015 10:33

The other half of marketing... Google


Over the last three years, a key arm of our marketing strategy has been to raise PleaseTech’s profile amongst the analyst community from a starting point of almost zero.  How did we do this?  Quite simply we began to brief the key analysts who focus on the document collaboration space.

In 2013, this led to us being named as a Gartner Cool Vendor in the ‘Cool Vendors in Social Software and Collaboration, 2013’ report, describing us as ‘innovative players in the collaboration and social software space, emerging to address specific gaps in the offerings from the more established vendors or are breaking new ground in creative ways in the social media space’.  This had a huge positive PR impact and also led to several exciting new sales leads.

Another great success was from Ovum, who reviewed PleaseReview 5.0, our collaborative review and co-authoring solution, stating that, “This is a specialist area and document management and enterprise content management (ECM) platforms do not always include the required level of control.  PleaseReview provides tight management for the entire process.”

We also featured in an Ovum article entitled ‘On the Radar’ and have appeared in analyst blogs, radio and print interviews.  

We continue to strengthen relationships with key analysts through a series of briefings as we roll out updates and cutting edge enhancements to PleaseReview.  As business sector experts and the middle man between the end user and software provider, analysts provide insightful feedback, and we very much value their opinions.

In addition to one on one conversations, for the first time this year, we’re working with a leading firm on a more formal basis.  Osterman Research, headed up by Micheal Osterman, provides timely and accurate market research, cost data and benchmarking information to technology-based companies.

Led by Osterman, in December 2014 we conducted a survey to look at document collaboration amongst knowledge workers, in both regulated and non-regulated industries, to examine the impact inadequate IT systems have on productivity and indeed the wider issue of employee retention in a buoyant labor market.   

The results are quite startling…Osterman found that knowledge workers collaborate on an average of 69.4 documents per month, or 3.3 documents per workday.  If we conservatively assume that each document requires approximately only 20 minutes of collaborative work, this equates to each knowledge worker spending 66 minutes per day in document collaboration activities, or about 14% of a typical eight-hour workday, adding up to more than 34 days per year.  

And the impact of inadequate tools?  You’ll have to register for our forthcoming webinar to find out.  Led by Michael Osterman and co-hosted by David Cornwell, CEO of PleaseTech, it will be taking place on:

Thursday June 4th

8.00am PDT / 11.00am EDT / 4.00pm GMT

Document review, Labradors, webinars and cartoons...

Posted by Sarah Edmonds on 3. March 2015 11:02

The other half of marketing... Google


Hopefully somebody’s reading this blog as it forms part of our marketing communications strategy. This strategy is based on a wide variety of activities such as insightful content management, analyst relations, exhibition presence, speaking opportunities, whitepapers, webinars, partner activity, our cartoon website, social media as well as a variety of literature, and of course our website.  But amongst all this, what is the most effective method for really engaging with our customers and prospects and for getting a conversation started?

There is absolute value in producing whitepapers and conducting webinars, which can be viewed and listened to again on our SlideShare page.  The proof is in the pudding as hundreds of people visit this page. Not all visits turn into leads, but some do.  It also positions us as an authority and a market expert in the field of document review and co-authoring. This is broadly considered as ‘thought leadership’.

The same can be said for our YouTube page, here people can find the short animated films we’ve created which detail and demo the product, PleaseReview, and why you might need it.  We know that reading presentations and whitepapers can be a little dry at times and, as you can tell from our cartoons, we are anything but ‘dry’. So we often animate the results of any research we’ve conducted.  It humanizes our communications and projects our company’s personality. What we do is deadly serious but communicating it needn’t be dry. After all, our customers and prospective customers aren’t machines; they’re normal folk who absorb information in a range of ways from watching TV to reading a paper.

And these normal folk don’t want to spend their days solely thinking and looking at work related subjects, even when at work checking out their LinkedIn, Twitter or Facebook streams – we all do it… Sometimes we just want a bit of light hearted fun, something that doesn’t tax the brain, something that makes us laugh.  So, for example, we took a look at our database and segmented job titles against names to establish the most popular names amongst various job positions, such as medical writers (Heather by the way).  And people loved it - they liked it, commented on and retweeted it.  And the response to our online quiz which allows people to find out what sort of document review personality they are (Labrador, squirrel, lion or dolphin) has gone through the roof.  

Hopefully whilst they’re on our website having a bit of fun, curiosity has got the better of them and they’ve had a little look around the site.  And maybe, just maybe they found something else they quite liked…

 

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