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

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!

 

PleaseTech at Oracle OpenWorld

Posted by John Tanner on 26. September 2013 16:30

Our PleaseTech integration expert


As Oracle OpenWorld virgins our pre-show expectations were high, especially considering the sheer size of the event; and as proceedings draw to a close we certainly haven't been disappointed.  The four days have provided an excellent forum to share PleaseTech's products to a diverse range of business partners.  Most surprising has been the interest we have received in our integrations with non-Oracle document management solutions from Microsoft SharePoint to Documentum.

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, giving attendees more time to experience the document collaboration benefits of PleaseReview.

 

The law of unintended consequences and customer feedback

Posted by David Cornwell on 20. September 2013 10:02

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


So the summer is over, the kids are back at school and business has got manic again. I’m writing this blog post from Budapest airport where I’ve been on a less than 24 hour visit to give a presentation at the Lorenz user conference called UserBridge.13. About 160 people from 21 different countries attended with visitors from as far afield as Australia, South Africa, the USA, Japan and Europe.

As always with Lorenz, the conference was immaculately organised with a beautiful venue, superb food and sessions which ran more-or-less on time!

I was presenting our document collaboration maturity model which allows organizations to check whether their collaboration process actually meets with their collaboration requirements.  We're going to be talking about this a lot of the coming months, so watch this space.

On Saturday I fly out to San Francisco for Oracle World.

So, to the title of my blog – the law of unintended consequences. 

One of the things CEOs and all others who make decisions are acutely aware of is that any process, set of rules, etc. will be subject to overly rigid interpretation, misunderstandings and a complete lack of common sense.

The story gets a little complicated, so follow carefully!

So, there I was, sitting with my wife on an Easyjet flight back from Barcelona, when I observed behaviour which illustrated this perfectly.

Easyjet have recently moved to an allocated seating model which allows them to charge people extra for the emergency rows and the front of the plane. I’m sure when the idea first came up, it seemed like a really good idea and, from a business perspective, it is. More revenue from the same people on the same flight – what’s not to like about that?

This particular flight was not full, nor crucially, were the two emergency rows in the middle of the plane. In fact the entire 2nd row of emergency seats was not occupied at all. As a frequent flyer, sitting one row behind the vacant emergency row, I noted this and indicated to my wife that it would be interesting to see how they deal with this because, as we all know, you need at least one capable person sitting in the row (in case of emergency).

Now, at approximately the same time, the strapping 20 something year old in the aisle seat next to next to us asked the crew if he could sit in the emergency row and was told ‘no’, as people have to pay to be there. Fair enough.

So, the doors close and the steward makes his move. A (very) large gentleman is asked to move from the aisle seat in the first (occupied) emergency row and does so gratefully, occupying the middle seat on one side of the previously empty emergency row. Score one for the steward.

Now what to do? He still needs an able-bodied person on the other side of the aisle. There remain two couples occupying the other emergency row on opposite sides of the plane.

But, our man was on to it. Alas, instead of doing the sensible thing and ask the strapping chap next to me to move (or indeed another capable individual) he split a couple up so that one had to occupy the empty row!  Unbelievable!

Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m no body language expert, but given the fact that (i) she was leaning on her partner’s shoulder  with her arm around him when the steward came calling, (ii) the steward had to persuade the lady to move and kept reiterating ‘it’s only for take-off’, and (iii) given the long, dare I say, lingering kiss she gave her partner as she reluctantly moved back a row, I’d  guess that it was not how she had expected her romantic(?) weekend in Barcelona to end. Needless to say she was back next to her man the second the seat belt sign was turned off.

So, rather than a win for Easyjet: Strapping man next to me is happy as he gets an emergency row and more leg room for his long legs, aforementioned lady is happy as she gets to take off next to her nearest, I’m happy because the seat next to me is free, the, no doubt highly trained, steward managed snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.

I have no doubt that no-one intended the above scenario. They assumed that the steward would take the common sense approach and move someone else.

What lessons do I take away? Simply, that, regardless of how clearly you define procedures and practices and regardless of how highly trained the staff are, you still need to rely on your staff to exhibit common sense. In this case the steward did not. Why not, we ask?

Well, of course, it may be an incorrect company policy. Perhaps he would have got into trouble if he let someone occupy a seat they hadn’t paid for. Answer, listen to client feedback such as this and re-think company policy.

Perhaps it is a misunderstanding/over rigorous understanding/interpretation of company policy and another steward would exhibit common sense. Answer: include the scenario in company training.

Perhaps he is a poor reader of body language and thought the woman needed rescuing? Answer: I’m sure that’s not the case.

In fact, I have emailed this to the CEO of Easyjet, told her I’d be including it in my blog and had a very nice response from a lady in ‘Executive Support’.

But I think that, other than the law of unintended consequences, there is another key point to emerge and that is, without customer feedback, you don’t get to know where you are going wrong or get the chance to put things right. So, I’m a great fan.  We rely heavily on customer feedback here at PleaseTech to establish development priorities so, customers, please do let me know if there are any unintended consequences from our software or, indeed, enhancements you want to see in future releases. .

Finally, I’m regularly asked ‘what mad venture are you up to next’? So, I’m pleased to announce that the answer is ‘driving sheep across London Bridge’ – I’ll bet you weren’t expecting that to be the answer!

But, it’s true.   On Sunday 29th September, in the company of the Master of the Worshipful Company of Woolmen, one of the oldest Livery Companies of the City of London, my wife and I and some friends will be participating in the traditional, annual sheep drive. Costumes yet to be decided but it will be either biblical or sheppardesque. I have firmly ruled out ‘Little Bo Peep’.

Needless to say any funds raised go to charity so hopefully we can have some fun and raise a bit of cash! I’ll report back in my next blog and will post pictures as proof on our Facebook page!

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.

 

 

Why does PleaseTech use social media as part of its B2B marketing strategy?

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.

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