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

Introducing PleaseReview OpenSpace

Posted by David Cornwell on 6. February 2017 09:58

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

This blog post introduces a new concept we are adding to our collaborative review solution, PleaseReview. It’s the ability to initiate and manage an uncontrolled co-authoring step using SharePoint or Office 365. We are calling it PleaseReview ‘OpenSpace’ as we want to differentiate it from our standard ‘controlled’ PleaseReview review or co-authoring process.

The aim behind OpenSpace is to add some managerial control to a standard SharePoint or Office 365 co-authoring session. That means that this standard co-authoring session will use the existing PleaseReview review set-up which allows authors to easily define and control who has access to the document(s). It also means that there will still be a degree of process management as PleaseReview will provide its standard notifications, reminders, status monitoring, etc.

The main difference will be that PleaseReview will have no control over what happens inside the document.  The level of reporting will also be less comprehensive (as we don’t manage what happens in the document) but it will include, as a minimum, the basics such as who was in the co-authoring session, their associated status and, we are hoping, an indication of what was changed and by whom – although this latter bit does depend on Word’s settings.

What happens inside the document will be the standard SharePoint/Office 365 uncontrolled co-authoring functionality – just as if you had loaded the document(s) into SharePoint/Office 365 yourself.  Access to the document(s) will be via PleaseReview (i.e. the control panel) or directly via the SharePoint/Office 365 interface. In the setup process PleaseReview will have set the appropriate access permissions so that only those OpenSpace participants have access to the documents. We're hoping to bring the various document-level protections that Word provides into the PleaseReview set-up options so that the author doesn’t have to fiddle around with Word to, for example, force on tracked changes and lock this setting with a password.

You may think that this is a major change of strategy for PleaseTech. After all, hasn't our message always been about in-document control, where no one can overwrite others' contributions? And, isn’t PleaseReview competitive with the SharePoint/Office 365 co-authoring feature?

I’d reply by saying it’s not a change of strategy because we’ve always understood and accepted that different phases of the document preparation lifecycle require different approaches. Traditional PleaseReview is at its strongest when the document needs to be moved out of the authoring phase (where there are major alterations and additions to the document's content) into the review phase.

We have decided to undertake this development because it’s what our clients have asked for. They recognize the benefits PleaseReview offers but also, at the initial stages of document creation, want the flexibility and openness offered by SharePoint/Office 365's co-authoring capability. Once the initial document has been developed and there is a need for wider review, PleaseReview is brought into play.

So, bringing PleaseReview’s process and managerial control to this initial open co-authoring process is an obvious step. It has many advantages for those wanting to use both SharePoint/Office 365 and PleaseReview at different stages of the document development lifecycle. There are several broad points to note:

1. It reduces the number of systems people ‘touch’ in their day-to-day activities making their lives easier, lowering training overheads and increasing acceptance. In this context it’s worth noting that this OpenSpace will automatically be available via PleaseTech’s PleaseReview integrations and thus provide the capability to integrate with third party systems;

2. It adds value to the SharePoint/Office 365 co-authoring process by providing managerial control. This means that IT departments don’t have to develop and maintain custom workflow systems to control the process;

3. It will provide a single seamless environment for all stages of the document co-authoring and review process with three clear stages:

- Uncontrolled SharePoint/Office 365 co-authoring using PleaseReview OpenSpace;
- Controlled PleaseReview co-authoring (i.e. restricting author access to certain parts of the document);
- Review i.e. the ability to ‘mark-up but not mess up’ the document.

4. All document types can be reviewed in the same environment meaning there is no need to have multiple co-authoring/review systems for different document types.

An OpenSpace will simply be a specific review type within PleaseReview so those with relevant permissions will be able to easily set-up and manage an OpenSpace co-authoring session within SharePoint/Office 365.

In terms of timing, we are aiming to release PleaseReview OpenSpace by the end of Q2 2017.

We’re discussing this development further at the DIA RSIDM Forum (Regulatory Submissions, Information, and Document Management) this week and running webinars over the next couple of months. If it’s something of interest I’d love to hear from you. We're still working out what is technically achievable and precise requirements, so any bright ideas are welcome- please get in touch

I look forward to your feedback and ideas.


Welcome to 2017!

Posted by David Cornwell on 10. January 2017 11:56

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

As is tradition, the first part of my January blog is somewhat repetitive as I say 'the previous year was yet another successful one for PleaseTech with revenue growth, new clients and some great new people having joined the team'!

Those of you who read my blogs regularly know that I am a fully paid up member of the ‘turnover is vanity and profit is sanity’ brigade. So, I’m delighted to report that we had another excellent year and continue to remain profitable. Profit gives us the ability to invest in new people and to further grow the business. We see no reason to change our successful model.

Life Sciences remains our largest sector and North America remains our largest market, although we are seeing growth in Europe and the rest of the world.

We had a commensurate growth in staff numbers with new starters in both the UK and Malaysia. 

The marketing department continued to work hard to spread the word. PleaseTech exhibited at or attended over 30 shows and conferences in 2016 and expanded our very successful ‘Word Masterclass’ speaking and webinar program.  the latest offering ‘Tempted by Templates’ (the clue is in the title) is a Templates Masterclass.  These can be viewed here.

In terms of product development, 2016 again saw PleaseTech moving from strength to strength. I’m particularly pleased that we were finally able to release PleaseReview v6 to rave reviews. We managed to include into the v6 release a redaction capability to start addressing the requirements pertaining to the EU Transparency directive and, specifically, Policy 70. In doing this we coined the phrase ‘Collaborative Redaction‘ - see my previous blog on this subject: ‘EU Policy 70 and Redaction – PleaseReview's take on it', posted in November 2016. 

We continue to support and enhance our integrations and work with partners who have undertaken their own integrations. The latest example of this is MasterControl who released a PleaseReview integration with their v11.6 release of MasterControl Documents™.

Additionally, we are keeping pace with industry standards, having greatly expanded our SAML 2.0 support and are expecting to release support for System for Cross-domain Identity Management (SCIM) in the not too distant future.

Once again 2016 saw customer praise for our service and support and, for the first time, our training services. Having staffed up in 2016, we are now able to deliver a wider and more diverse training program.  To quote one happy customer: “The training was impressive and I got good feedback from users”.

So, all in all another good year! Long may the trend continue.

What can we expect in 2017? Well, from our perspective the answer is: more of the same. We will continue to work hard to deliver excellent software and accompanying this, excellent customer service.

In terms of product we will be releasing PleaseReview v6.1 by the end of Q1 2017 which will have some significant enhancements for the Policy 70 collaborative redaction functionality. This is specifically designed to streamline the process and enhance reporting for those Life Science companies submitting to Europe. 

We will then have a further release (v6.2) at the end of Q2 2017 introducing the concept of OpenSpaces to PleaseReview. We will be launching a major publicity drive on this over the next few weeks so watch this space and remember that you heard it here first! 

Finally, I want to share with you the following little anecdote. As I sat down to write the first draft of this blog, my inbox had two leads which came in overnight. Both were from previous PleaseReview users who have moved company and want to introduce PR into their new organizations.

The fact that people out there feel that the software we produce makes their lives sufficiently better/easier that, on joining a new company, they want to introduce it to their new co-workers is a true testament to the work we do. I’m tremendously proud of that and I know that my team feel the same way!

We plan to keep it up in 2017!


EU Policy 70 and Redaction – PleaseReview's take on it

Posted by David Cornwell on 16. November 2016 14:23

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

This blog post is primarily about how PleaseReview can assist life science companies in the process of complying with the European Medicines Agency (EMA) transparency policy 70 on the publication of clinical data. However, it also discusses how we at PleaseTech plan to expand PleaseReview’s redaction (or masking as it is sometimes known) capability over the next six months, so this post may be of interest to those readers with other redaction challenges.

What is the EMA's transparency policy 70 and its impact on the publication of clinical data?

Without going into too much detail, the EMA’s Policy 70 concerns the publication of clinical data for medicinal products for human use (more information can be found here). This requires the publication on the EMA website of clinical data submitted by life science companies to the EMA in support of drug applications. As such, said clinical data is made publicly available to the whole world.

Pertinent to our interest, is the fact that the published documentation must be redacted to remove Personal Private Data (PPD) and Personally Identifiable Data (PID) and may also be redacted to remove some Commercially Confidential Data (CCI). So, in short, the submitting life science company needs to agree redactions (and for the CCI data, provide a justification for each redaction – the so called ‘Justification Table’) to the EMA and then provide the redacted documents for publication.

To further complicate the issue, PPD and PID data is relatively structured and standard and, therefore, can largely use a rules based approach to redaction. It is therefore a candidate for being subcontracted. Whereas CCI data is ‘softer’, typically lacking structure, and open to interpretation - so requiring justification. So, in practice, work on the different redaction types requires a different process and therefore needs to be undertaken by different teams – ideally in parallel as there is considerable time pressure.

Clearly this is a massive undertaking, especially as the policy is retrospective and therefore the documents will not have been written in a way that ever anticipated publication. So, in summary, life science companies submitting to the EMA have a short amount of time to redact thousands of documents, masking specified information only some of which is structured.

Where can PleaseReview assist?

Firstly, with the review of proposed redactions.

In my view, the redaction of a document is no different to any other document review process. Redactions must be proposed, reviewed, approved and then published. Initially, during the negotiation phase when CCI redactions are agreed with the EMA, a PDF document ‘marked for redaction’ will be the published output. Only when agreement is reached will the agreed redactions be applied to the document. At all stages review is a critical part of the process.

Proposed redactions need to be reviewed and that’s the first place PleaseReview fits in. If you are an existing PleaseReview user, your system, as it is configured today (no upgrades needed), can be used. PleaseReview will identify the areas ‘marked for redaction’ in a PDF file in PleaseReview. These can then be commented upon, discussed, agreed, etc. Areas missed can be identified. As always all this interaction is recorded and reported upon.

Secondly, with the latest and the greatest PleaseReview release (v6), not only do you get the areas ‘marked for redaction’ identified, but review participants can also propose redactions within PleaseReview. These are treated like any other proposed change to the document. As such, proposed redactions appear in the reconciliation report, which can be downloaded in Word and can therefore be copied and pasted into the Justification Table. So, collaborative redaction is introduced and available. Use it wisely!

Finally, we are busy working on v6.1 which will include several enhancements designed to streamline the process:

  1. Redaction categorization. Precise requirements are still emerging and evolving, but initial indications are that different types of redaction (i.e. PPD, PID & CCI) will be required to have different properties (specifically color and overlay text) and so PleaseReview will include the ability to specify different redaction properties against Redaction Categories (the same as Comment Categories);

  2. Round tripping of PDFs. It is important to be able to seamlessly import areas marked for redaction in PDF files into PleaseReview (i.e. convert them into PleaseReview proposed redactions rather than just identify them) and export them as the same so PleaseReview can be used to manipulate them (i.e. accept/reject/etc.);

  3. Merge redactions. The ability to import PDF documents into PleaseReview with areas marked for redaction at any stage of the review cycle and have the proposed redactions imported and merged with the master document. This will allow multiple teams to work in parallel and then consolidate results;

  4. Automatically produce a justification table minimizing manual work such as copy and paste.

So, in summary:

  1. If you are current users of PleaseReview, with your existing system you can collaborate on the review of proposed redactions;

  2. If you upgrade to PleaseReview v6 (the latest release), not only can you collaborate on the review of proposed redactions but also propose new redactions in PleaseReview;

  3. When PleaseReview v6.1 is released, (Q1,17) – you will be able to do all of the above, plus you’ll also have a collaborative redaction environment, designed to assist the process of complying with the more subtle redaction requirements of Policy 70.

If you would like to learn more about PleaseReview's redaction capabilities or see a demonstration, please contact us.

Efficient and controlled In-document collaboration with PleaseReview for OpenText Content Server

Posted by Sarah Holden on 23. March 2016 09:44

Half of the PleaseTech marketing team.

Here at PleaseTech, partnerships with other players in the document collaboration space are very important.

An example in kind is a recent blog post published by OpenText, a global player in Enterprise Content Management. It introduces the launch of PleaseReview for OpenText Content Server, their content repository system. In their blog they explain “As organizations continue to churn out vast amounts of information on a daily basis, collaboration can become more and more challenging—with issues including the navigation of various document versions, widespread email chaos when dealing with multiple reviewers, and control issues due to the lack of complete audit trails. The end result is often missed deadlines, inferior document quality, compliance issues—and then ultimately, frustrated employees.”

The purpose of this post was to publicize a webinar that was shortly to take place: ‘PleaseTech PleaseReview for OpenText™ Content Server’.

A bit of history – whilst there has been an integration in place for over 8 years between PleaseReview and Content Server, last year OpenText recognized that effective document review was a growing issue for existing and prospective clients, especially with marketing hype surrounding Office365 and SharePoint. Recognizing that to stay a step ahead of their competitors in helping organizations collaborate more effectively in the document review process, OpenText extended the existing partnership by making PleaseTech a Technology Partner. As a result, PleaseReview can now be purchased directly from OpenText as an optional module for Content Server,

 The webinar was held earlier this month introducing PleaseReview to OpenText’s audience, and was extremely well attended. This is just the first step and we will continue to support their sales force as they start to actively promote PleaseReview.

 If you want to see how PleaseReview can improve productivity in your organization, you had better watch the webinar recording

Welcome to 2016 – another fine year we hope

Posted by David Cornwell on 12. January 2016 16:26

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

As is traditional, the first part of my January blog is somewhat repetitive as I say 'the previous year was yet another successful one for PleaseTech with revenue growth, new clients and some great new people having joined the team'!

2015 delivered revenue growth of 40% compared to 2014 with 50 new clients (itself a 35% YoY increase). Amongst this new business we count some major strategic wins with some very large organizations – never a bad thing! We also maintained a healthy growth in annual recurring revenue (ARR) of 27%. Alongside these strong results, the uptake of our cloud services has provided us with our highest percentage growth, reflecting industry trends.

Those of you who read my blogs regularly know that 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 - exactly what we plan to do this year.

Accounting for over 80% of 2015 sales, Life Sciences remains our largest market sector. Once again, North America is our largest market with over 75% of all sales – which is directly in line with the trend of the last five years.

We had a commensurate growth in staff numbers increasing headcount by 40% with new starters in both the UK and Malaysia.  Suffice it to say, we no longer rattle around the new UK office which we moved to in late 2014.

The marketing department continued to work hard to spread the word. PleaseTech exhibited at a total of 23 shows/conferences in 2015, attended a couple as ‘delegate only’, fulfilled several speaking engagements and ran very successful ‘Word Masterclass’ webinars with the APMP and AMWA membership organizations. Additionally, we ran our first user group meeting for Life Sciences customers. We learnt a lot from this experience and are currently evaluating our future plans in this area. Watch this space!

In terms of product development, 2015 saw the introduction of a new agile development process which is designed to provide scalability as the company grows. The introduction of this process has not been without its trials. The amount of disruption and impact on productivity was unexpected, delaying the PleaseReview v6 release into this year.

However, we can’t blame the v6 delay entirely on the introduction of agile. I think everyone in the company underestimated how difficult it would be to rewrite the PleaseReview interface. There is a huge amount of functionality which has built up from its first introduction in 2004. Using it daily it's easy to forget how sophisticated it is! The good news is that v6 is coming along and a brief demo of the future was given at the user group meeting, which was very well received.

In other product news, we released a significantly enhanced integration with Veeva Vault on which we have had great feedback. We have also decided to temporarily (we hope) retire PleaseCompose (our structured authoring offering) to focus all our attention on PleaseReview. PleaseReview is where we make our money, is incredibly successful and, therefore, we feel it important to ‘put the wood behind the arrowhead’ or, as Peters and Waterman would have it, ‘stick to the knitting’.

However, to say that we are a single product company would be to miss the point. We have several integrations with ECM/eDMS platforms and each integration is a separate product with its own life cycle and which needs to be maintained and enhanced. Add into the mix support for various SAML2 providers and we have plenty plates to keep spinning.

During 2015 we continued to focus on working with partners and an agreement with Open Text saw ‘PleaseReview for Content Server’ added to the Open Text price list. Needless to say this is an exciting development for us and will hopefully give us access to organizations which would be/are difficult to approach directly.

Once again 2015 saw customer praise for our service and support. Nick and his team continue to enhance our reputation in this vital area. To quote one client: "Thanks to you and your team for the fantastic support that we have been getting". Whether Please Review is being rolled out to hundreds of users in a complex integrated enterprise environment (as it was in this case) or we are providing support to our standalone cloud users, we pride ourselves on exceeding expectations.

So, all in all a good year!

What can we expect in 2016? Well, from our perspective the answer is: more of the same. We will continue to work hard and deliver excellent customer service. We have a number of exciting prospective customers who we look forward to bringing on-board and are starting to explore APAC as a market territory.

We will release PleaseReview v6.0 which will be a substantial upgrading of PleaseReview’s user interface. The idea is to make the interface much more modern/consumer like 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 further 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. 

So, we have a lot to do over the next 12 months if we want to replicate 2015. Best get to it.

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