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

Integrating PleaseReview with Oracle WebCenter Content

Posted by John Tanner on 22. January 2014 11:06

Our PleaseTech integration expert


When setting out on developing the integration of WebCenter Content with PleaseReview, our primary aims were the same as with other PleaseReview document management integrations. We wanted to develop a seamless solution which would allow all of the controlled collaboration benefits of PleaseReview to be available from within WebCenter Content without the user having to log into a separate system.  In addition, we wanted to make it possible for existing PleaseReview users already familiar with the User Interface, to be able to log into it using their WebCenter Content Credentials and carry out reviews using WebCenter documents and WebCenter Users as Participants.

In order to achieve these aims it was necessary to develop three separate components, which together work hand-in-hand to join WebCenter Content and PleaseReview....

Firstly a custom WebCenter Content Component was created in order to update the WebCenter Content user interface to include new PleaseReview menu items and custom inbox pages in the style of the WebCenter Content instance, for users with the appropriate permissions.  The result was a custom component that can easily be deployed and configured to work with PleaseReview by a WebCenter Content administrator.

Next, a custom PleaseReview extension (or System Connector) specific to WebCenter Content was built to enable users to log into the PleaseReview UI using their WebCenter Credentials and to enable PleaseReview to be able to interact with WebCenter Content via its APIs, for purposes such as accessing documents, selecting users etc. This was built using the standard PleaseReview system connector structure, so as to simplify the deployment process.

Finally, in order to enable PleaseReview to obtain details of the PleaseReview specific users and groups administered from within WebLogic Admin Console, a WebLogic PleaseReview Connector was developed, which can simply be deployed as a Web Application on the WebLogic server on which WebCenter Content resides using the WebLogic AdminClient.

Putting these three components together we now have a solution which offers everything we initially set out to do, making a seamless collaborative review process possible from within WebCenter Content.  

For anyone interested in finding out more about this integration and the collaborative document review capabilities within WebCenter Content, please join us for our complimentary webinar on January 30th- just sign up here

 

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!

 

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

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…  

 

The nightmare of 'tracked changes'

Posted by PleaseTech Guest on 27. June 2013 15:09

Our guest blogger is...


Andrew Barnes, Independent Marketing Consultant

 

I'm not prone to nightmares, and normally I sleep quite well.  But towards the end of last year I genuinely did wake in the middle of the night in a slight panic.

Over the years I've worked in a variety of different roles with many types of software companies.  From rapidly growing UK companies with great products to global organizations with products in need of refresh, I've worked in some sort of marketing position.

Throughout that time one thing has been more or less constant: the need to create, share and review documents.  Even now, as an independent consultant, I've always thought of myself as pretty adept at juggling documents to ultimately come out with a polished datasheet, press release, whitepaper or proposal as required.  But for some reason this time it was different.

I had been co-ordinating the creation and approval of a new whitepaper for a company that will remain nameless.  This involved taking input from a few different departments and working with a couple of agencies in different time zones.

There was nothing really out of the ordinary.  A draft had been created.  Like many companies there wasn't much of a process to follow.  They relied on the distribution of the whitepaper by email and using tracked changes in Microsoft Word to evolve it.

I won't bore you with the details of the rainbow of colors I had to resolve in the document as the emails came back and people edited edits.  I set about resolving the amendments and accepting comments where appropriate.  By the time I'd finished I felt pretty relieved.

So why did I wake with a start?  For some reason I suddenly realized that I'd inadvertently approved for external release a document that was still being modified by some fairly senior people.  And the situation needed to be corrected pretty quickly.

At the 11th hour an executive had decided the document needed a particular twist and had started a new email thread distributing the original version.  I'd been told this in passing, but it had slipped my mind and as a result the consolidation of some pretty critical amendments hadn't happened.  All my hard work had been messed up.

So first thing the following morning I still had the same deadline to meet, and I had to work out to incorporate amendments to amendments, quickly research responses to new comments and resubmit for further approval across time-zones.

I didn't have the luxury of an audit trail to work out what had gone on.  The lack of process had let me down.  So I painstakingly had to go about comparing documents, tracking down emails to see who had done what and chasing one person who was adamant they needed to be involved, but couldn't be tracked down (and yes the pun was intended).

I got there in the end. The whitepaper was published and well received by the audience.  So apart from some shredded nerves and extra work, no real harm was done.

Since then I've started doing some work for PleaseTech Ltd and have had my eyes opened to the value of a structured, controlled approach to document review.

I think it's time for me to stop juggling documents and drowning in the sea of tracked changes.  If only I can persuade my clients of the right way to control the document review process...

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