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

PleaseReview v.5.0 is released, we're now working on v.5.1!

Posted by David Cornwell on 25. July 2013 11:20

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


The UK is basking in a wonderful summer. The best, apparently, since 1976. Obviously, I’d like to pretend that I’m too young to remember such a distant event, but, unfortunately I remember it well. I was a carefree 17 year old. How do I remember that particular summer? Well trust me, memories of long hot summers are rare if you are British!

So nearly 40 years later, here I am in another long hot summer but life has moved on and, as opposed to being carefree, I have responsibilities.  Even though PleaseReview v5.0 is out of the door, I can’t kick back, relax and sit in the garden drinking Pimms (a uniquely British summer drink which conjures up images of croquet on the lawn - for those wondering what Pimms is).

Nope – no rest for the wicked. No sooner than one release is out of the door, our attention turns to the next.  That’s the way it is in software development – an endless cycle of develop/test/release. The simple fact is that every software product in the world is a ‘work in progress’ – it’s never complete. There is always something to add, to perfect and to repair. Just keeping up with the release cycles of other vendor’s products (Windows Server 2012, Office 2013, etc.) is work enough, let alone the long list of enhancements we’d like to get done.  So now we turn our attention to v5.1.

Over the next month or so we will be inviting our clients to a series of v5.1 webinars in which we will let them know the planned scope of release and request feedback.

The improvement cycle doesn’t stop at our software. Over the last couple of months we have commissioned a new support system to provide a better experience for clients and have even updated our website with a slightly re-modelled home page.

As those who follow us will know, we're great fans of cartoons here at PleaseTech. I believe they help make serious points in a light way, which most people understand. To celebrate the launch of PleaseReview v5.0, we commissioned a couple of cartoons to highlight the new offline tablet review capability:  

 

 

Talking of cartoons, no one will have missed the fact that there has been a royal birth in the UK. We now have three kings in waiting – lucky us! However, those of you who follow our document review cartoons will have seen a cartoon regarding the royal birth before it all happened. Why do I mention this? Because, I’m pleased to say that the cartoon predicted ‘George’ as the name for a boy at odds of 5-1. I wish I’d put some cash on that outcome!

Thinking about bars…I earned a drink or three over the 4th July weekend when I undertook the WaterAid 6 Peaks challenge.  You may recall the 6 Peaks Challenge comprises climbing the tallest peaks in England, Wales, Scotland, Isle of Man and both North and Southern Ireland. The headline statistics were:

50 miles to walk

20,000 feet to climb

1,000 miles to drive (with two sea crossings)

72 hours in which to complete it

For those familiar with the UK’s ‘3 peaks’ challenge ( which involves walking the highest mountains in Scotland, England and Wales within 24 hours), the 6 peaks is like that but with a warm up (Snaefell on the Isle of Man) followed by extra time i.e. Slieve Donard in Northern Island and Corran Tuathail in Southern Ireland. We walk up Slieve Donard at night with head torches.

So, the good news is that most of us, including me, succeeded.  The better news is that the eight team members (six climbers and two drivers) were still talking to each other at the end of it all! For 72 hours we were either in a minivan being driven to the next mountain or walking up (or down) a mountain.

Luckily I had a natural advantage. Years of cattle class transatlantic travel means I can sleep anywhere. Even, it transpires, in the back of a mini bus hurtling between mountains. Others were not so fortunate and found the physical challenge difficult when compounded by the lack of sleep.  There is no mistaking it was a tough challenge and I am delighted to have completed it. I’m also delighted that we have raised about £4,500 (circa US$7,000) for the WaterAid charity. Furthermore, I’m proud that afterwards, of the six people left in the bar at 3:00am (of the circa 60 people from nine teams taking part), four were from our team!  Many thanks to all who supported us. 

Finally, I am delighted to say that we've finally managed to get our new movie released. Watch it here

 

PleaseTech releases PleaseReview v5.0 and keeps cool in the hot weather

Posted by Sarah Holden on 17. July 2013 13:35

Half of the PleaseTech marketing team.


There is always a certain amount of build-up prior to a new product release. This has certainly been the case for us here at PleaseTech. And in marketing, it’s always good to have something concrete to say. And it’s even better to be able to add ‘we’re the first’ which we can do – twice, following the release this week of PleaseReview v5.0, our collaborative document review solution.

We are the first to make it easier for busy people to catch up with the reviews waiting for their attention. The new offline tablet review (for iPad and Android) means you don’t have to be ‘connected’ to catch up. 

We are the first to help users collaborate to capture high level feedback on a document – from multiple participants, in real time, on the same feedback document. 

Ok, if you’re not involved in team reviews this may not matter to you - but to some it’s a big deal and will contribute to better productivity and better quality documents. For more detail on these and other enhancements do see our previous post or read the new release.

It is with a sense of relief for us all that the release is out the door and, now that the communication wheel is in motion and clients are already contacting us to upgrade their systems, minds are turning to the next project. That’s the thing about working for a dynamic technology company - people don’t stay still for long - there’s always more to do.

This continuous development cycle keeps us ahead of the curve and in recognition of this, we are proud to have been recently named a Gartner Cool Vendor in the social software and collaboration space. 

This accolade reflects our work ethic and some of our key success factors are recognized in their report:

- Identify opportunities early

- Offer the solution in a variety of deployment models (e.g. cloud, mobile, on-premise)

- Match new technology investments to user cases

- Continue to innovate

Why are we cool? Because, in Gartner’s words we “tackle long-standing coordination, collaboration and peer review challenges faced by teams every day regarding group writing, reviewing and editing documents in a way that transforms a complicated, burdensome experience into a  more efficient and controlled process”.

So, PleaseReview v5.0 is out of the door, but watch this space, v5.1 is already in development…  

 

Announcing PleaseReview v5.0

Posted by David Cornwell on 19. June 2013 10:07

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


Well I’m delighted to be formally announcing what is in PleaseReview v5.0.

We initially announced the ‘high level’ plans last year and showcased some of the key features at the recent FOSE conference in Washington, DC and at the APMP Bid and Proposal conference in Atlanta. We will also have v5.0 with us on the booth at the DIA conference in Boston next week. We're booth #304 - please drop by if you're going. For more details visit the DIA website.

So, PleaseReview v5.0 provides the following enhancements:

  • A modernized user interface;
  • ‘High level’ feedback capability;
  • Flight mode (an additional cost option) to provide offline, zero footprint review capability with HTML5 (i.e. modern) browsers;
  • A customizable review experience designed to suite varying levels of reviewer sophistication with the introduction of User Types;
  • Revised, simplified licensing;
  • Various other enhancements, upgrades and fixes.

We always value client feedback and most of these enhancements are being introduced as a direct result of such user feedback. Several are intended to be ‘first steps’ to be further developed in future releases.

Clearly the standout feature is Flight Mode. The ability to review Word documents offline on a tablet and automatically upload and consolidate your comments and changes into the main review surely has to be a winner. We believe that PleaseReview is globally unique and this simply takes it a step further. 

So diving into the detail ………

Modernized, Enhanced User Interface

The review interface has been ‘refreshed’ with new, larger, modern icons, the introduction of a count-down timer and, for Word documents, a ‘paper-like’ look & feel with page breaks.

Existing PleaseReview v4 users will recognize the overall environment and will feel ‘at home’ but will also notice numerous little improvements such as the selected paragraph being identified in the document and a complete rationalization of the options available. In addition to Reviewers, Authors also benefit from enhancements designed to minimize their need to click!

Feedback Feature

We’ve introduced a new feature called a ‘Feedback Document’. This is designed to enable the capture of ‘high level’ feedback on a document or document set. So now it’s possible to ask questions such as; ‘please rate the quality of the writing’; ‘what are the strengths of the document set’; ‘please identify the major risks’; etc.

This feedback capability is the first stage of our new ‘Beyond Review’ strategy. The idea being that now they have an efficient way for multiple people to mark-up and comment on documents, it’s time to leverage PleaseReview to provide business process benefits beyond simple document review. There will be further developments in this area.

The feedback functionality has been driven by requirements for color team reviews in the proposals industry. From understanding what's needed to getting something that works are two very different things but, even if I do say so myself, its implementation is extremely clever and it is very easy to configure.

The feedback functionality also makes it possible to use PleaseReview simply as a brainstorming tool. So PleaseReview can be used to capture the thoughts of participants on a topic rather than as a review process.

Flight Mode

These days it’s all about the mobile worker. Last year we introduce our iPad module and have had the Offline Review Client (OLC) for a long time. But it’s not been possible to review offline on a tablet – until now.

So, imagine: You are at the gate reviewing a Word document on your iPad. The flight is called, you click into PleaseReview’s Flight Mode and select which reviews you want to work on during the flight. Whilst you board they are downloading. When the plane doors close and you need to flick your iPad into Flight Mode you have the selected reviews available for offline review. No apps, no installs – it’s all in the browser.

Whilst you're reviewing offline you will be able to see all the comments and changes made by your colleagues to the moment you downloaded the review. When you are next connected, upload your comments and changes. It’s that simple.

The only requirement is a browser which supports HTML5. So Flight Mode works with most devices, be it a Windows laptop, Macbook, iPad or Android tablet.

We think this is pretty cool. We hope you do as well!

User Types

As part of our focus on facilitating enterprise rollouts, we are introducing the ability to specify User Types in PleaseReview. This allows control over the review interface with the provision of different functionality to different types of user.

So casual users can have a simplified interface (with reduced available functionality) whilst more sophisticated users can have a fully featured interface.

This makes it easy to use PleaseReview throughout the organization even by less confident users. Expect further enterprise rollout features in future releases.

Revised Licensing

I think everyone I know agrees that software licensing is anything but simple. The basic problem is balancing flexible licensing which meets client requirements with the inherent complexity of the process.

Our previous licensing was very flexible was becoming rather cumbersome- for example, a user taking advantage of all the features offered by PleaseReview used three different licenses! This was difficult to explain to prospective clients. So we have simplified it.

We now have a simple hierarchical model of Power User, Enhanced User and Standard User which still provides the flexibility needed.

Other Stuff

There have been a wide range of other enhancements and minor fixes designed to make life easier for our clients. If you’d like a webinar to go over the enhancements just let us know.

We have already started thinking about v5.1 and I’m over in Malaysia with the development team in early July to scope that out and bounce ideas around. Onward and upward! 

'blog.pleasetech.com': our blog finds a new home

Posted by Sarah Holden on 6. June 2013 14:04

Half of the PleaseTech marketing team.


Whilst Dave Cornwell, our CEO, has maintained an (almost) regular blog for several years, we’re expanding and inviting others from within and outside PleaseTech to join him.

The intent is to provide different viewpoints, cover various areas of interest and tap into the different mindsets of the individuals who work here or who are otherwise involved in document collaboration. Having been with PleaseTech for almost three years (goodness, already three years) I have come to appreciate and enjoy the very ‘special’ and diverse personalities I come into contact with and so look forward to reading what they have to say. 

To accommodate these plans, we have moved our blog from a generic provider so that it is now hosted directly by PleaseTech. There are several advantages to us including improved SEO, increased brand awareness, control of our content and freedom of design. Also, being a technology company, we have all the expertise on hand if anything breaks!

So, moving forward, you will see regular posts from PleaseTech, covering company updates, opinions, shared knowledge, industry news and more.  

From a marketing perspective, our blog will deal with some of the challenges we face and what we are doing to overcome them.  A recent survey of over 800 marketers conducted by the B2B Technology Marketing community on LinkedIn earlier this year confirmed what we face: 

‘The number one challenge for B2B marketers is generating high quality leads’

The full survey results are certainly worth a read and provide some pointers into what works better in terms of marketing activity. Our challenges specifically come down to:

Finding the right person to talk to – whilst for some industries this is clear, document collaboration is often managed by a diverse range of people across the organization.

Education – many use workarounds or solutions that enable basic collaboration, and, in doing so, put up with the inefficiencies and frustrations inherent with these practices/solutions. They know no better (or have not had the time to research an alternative) and so their expectations are low, especially if their IT department has told them that the existing solution is ‘state-of-the-art’.

Convincing the IT dept. – Dave has covered this in previous blog posts and it continues to be a challenge. Business users are the ones who experience document collaboration issues, but frequently have to ‘live’ with the solutions provided by IT who often have the final say in how the dollars are spent.

Finding our ‘voice’ – whilst we know our business inside out, we continue to strive to know more about the different industry sectors and business disciplines we work with. It’s all very well knowing why our product is better and different but we have to touch the right chords with those we speak with. How can we help? What’s in it for them? What can they learn from us?

In future blog posts we will touch on some of the activities we have planned and that are currently underway to meet these challenges. We will share research, customer insights, best practices and independent expert contributions.

So, to gain an inside view into the workings of a technology company and all the cogs that make the wheel turn, as well as industry insights, personal deliberations and more, do sign up to catch the posts as they appear. 

 

Four months have flown past.

Posted by David Cornwell on 28. May 2013 15:26

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


Is it really four months since I wrote my last blog entry? It is, and the time has simply flown by. Looking back, it’s been a very successful four months but it’s hard to know where to start. 

Firstly, from a business perspective, we continue to win new clients, to have a healthy prospect list and to see PleaseReview rolled out further with existing clients. So, assuming that the purpose of a business is to acquire and retain customers (to paraphrase Peter Drucker), then we are being successful! 

Secondly, we were recently named a 'Cool Vendor' in Gartner Inc.'s 'Cool Vendors in Social Software and Collaboration, 2013' report, which was published in April of this year. Whilst the best recognition is winning clients and having them come back to purchase additional licenses, it’s also nice to get the wider recognition which this accolade brings.  To read more about why we were selected as innovative players in the collaboration space, see our news item.

Thirdly, we've achieved Gold Partner Status in the Oracle PartnerNetwork (OPN), and are in the final stages of developing an integration with Oracle’s WebCenter Content platform (“WCC”). This was launched at the Oracle IOUG Collaborate conference, Denver, in April and is on track for release shortly after PleaseReview v5.0, due early summer. 

Talking about PleaseReview v5.0…  this latest release will bring a revised, modernized interface and other significant enhancements, which will further extend PleaseReview’s lead as the most advanced document review solution in the world.

Personally, I’ve attended eight conferences in Tampa, Boston, Cardiff, Denver, Twickenham, Philadelphia, Baltimore and Washington DC. This blog entry will be published when I’m at my ninth conference this year in Atlanta. Only one more to go (DIA in Boston) before the summer break - ten conferences in six months – not bad going!

I don't attend all conferences and, as a company we have had booths at two others so far this year and at a further two before the summer break. In total, we are currently expecting to attend twenty conferences in 2013. We have been deliberately extending the range of the conferences we attend and experimenting - and have had mixed success. We have had some experimental ‘misses’ in the USA and, once again the European conferences have generally not proved worthwhile (with the exception of a couple of smaller ones in the UK). 

The Independent Oracle User’s Group (IOUG) Collaborate 13 conference was, if we are honest, disappointing in terms of lead generation and, in many ways we felt a bit of a ‘fish out of water’ – it is a very technical event and we appeal to business users. However, it acted as a ‘launch vehicle’ for the new integration, helped establish some good Oracle relationships and certainly furthered our understanding of the very extensive Oracle environment and the WebCenter Content platform’s position within it. We will attend Oracle OpenWorld (with circa 50,000 other people) in San Francisco in September with a released product and will hopefully gain a decent amount of interest (aka leads). 

Whilst I tend to talk a lot about conferences as they are a major source of leads for us, our marketing effort is not solely limited to them. We have a broad range of marketing activity underway and the inclusion on the ‘Cool Vendors’ report is a result of this wider effort. PR, social media and content marketing are all part of this and we continue to work at driving more traffic to our website. 

I’m extremely pleased that PleaseReview v5.0 is on schedule for release at the end of June. We have a series of customer webinars planned to introduce our customers to the new features and I’ll be blogging on the enhancements at around the same time. However, suffice it to say that, in addition to the interface refresh, the mobile experience will be enhanced, and we are introducing a new feature which kicks off our new ‘beyond review’ strategy.

This ‘beyond review’ strategy is designed to leverage PleaseReview to provide business process benefits beyond simple document review. The first phase of this, to be released with v5.0, is a ‘feedback capability’ which allows the capture of higher level feedback on a document. This may be manifested as a SWOT analysis or as ‘ratings’ against configurable scales. It can also be used as a simple brainstorming tool. The output is a Word document (and report) with the captured feedback. The feedback functionality will be of particular use in the proposals market but is also applicable wherever the review is focused on ‘higher level’ analysis rather than (or in addition to) detailed mark-up.

So, you can see we have been busy!

On a personal level my sun bronzed complexion is not a result of a well-earned holiday but because I’m out every weekend yomping up the South Wales mountains training for the ‘6 Peaks Challenge’ in early July (WaterAid 6 Peaks Challenge). As a reminder, the headline figures are:

  • 50 miles to walk
  • 20,000 feet to climb
  • 1,000 miles to drive (with two sea crossings)
  • 72 hours in which to complete it


Each team will be climbing the tallest peaks in England, Wales, Scotland, Isle of Man and both North and South Ireland - all in 72 hours. Our team comprises six climbers and two drivers. 

So, most weekends between now and July 5th you’ll find me walking up and down ‘Pen y Fan’ which is the highest mountain in South Wales and Southern Britain. A standard Sunday training run is to do it twice with a brief ice cream break in the south car park! This makes it about a 8.5 miles walk with a total ascent (and descent) of around 3,000 feet and takes around 4.5 hours (depending on how long you pause at the top to admire the view and how long the line at the ice cream van is). You certainly know you've been on a walk at the end of it. The worrying thing is that to complete the challenge we have to do the equivalent of six of these walks in 72 hours!


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