Alec Dorling on ISO-Compliant Document Control

October 26, 2007 by

Alec Dorling

Alec Dorling, an internationally recognized expert in the field of quality management, process assessment and improvement, has been instrumental in helping us design a standards-compliant document review process. His whitepaper, Smarter Document Control, will be appearing in the upcoming issue of TickIT International.

In the whitepaper, he provides a complete background on the principles and practice of ISO9001 compliant document management, and proposes Coventi as a powerful solution for organizations looking to streamline their document collaboration processes.

He points out that ease-of-use makes all the difference:

“The biggest hurdle in implementing any collaborative software is convincing people to use it. Training and mentoring is usually required to make people comfortable using such software, and if people don’t feel comfortable with the software, they won’t use it.

Highlighting text and writing notes in the margin is something we’re all used to from pen and paper. The same simple concepts are built into Coventi Pages. A reviewer can easily identify comments and changes to be made in a document. All comments are entered into an electronic version of the margins of a hard copy document.

Using a tool like Coventi Pages, the executive sponsor of a quality management system has an instant solution to full life cycle document control. Improved economies and other business benefits can quickly be realized through the use of a more efficient document collaboration, review and approval process.”

The Coventi Team extends a sincere thanks to Mr. Dorling for playing a key role in defining our product and for introducing us to the ISO community.

New Review Features: Automate and Accelerate

May 21, 2007 by

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Recent additions to our feature set have made Coventi Pages the ultimate tool for authors who need their documents reviewed by a group:

1) Review deadlines: If you need your document reviewed by a certain date/time, you can set a review deadline and let Coventi handle the task of sending reminder emails out to the group as the deadline approaches.

2) Approval Requests: Authors seeking a formal sign-off can request approval of their document with a click of the mouse. When a reviewer approves the document, authors are notified over email.

3) Review Tracking: On the “People” pane, you can easily track who’s viewed and/or approved your document.

By combining these three features with our killer contextual discussion capability, Coventi Pages offers an unprecedented level of automation for your group review process. Rather than collating and resolving your group’s comments, circulating each new revision, repeatedly reminding everyone of deadlines, and pinging reviewers for approval, try us for a change. Point your browser at www.coventi.com and put your review process into overdrive.

See our extensive Help Center for details regarding these new features, and don’t hesitate to email us at contact AT coventi DOT com with any questions.

OpenDocument, PDF and more…

April 30, 2007 by

odt_icon.jpg pdf_icon.jpg

If you need to collect feedback on OpenDocument files, now you can upload OpenDocumentText (.odt) files to Coventi and download back out as well.

We’ve also enabled other download formats like PDF. Here’s a list of all the file formats supported by our latest release:

Upload:

  • Microsoft Word (.doc)
  • OpenDocumentText (.odt)

Download:

  • Microsoft Word (.doc)
  • OpenDocumentText (.odt)
  • PDF (.pdf)
  • Rich Text Format (.rtf)
  • Plain Text (.txt)

We’re always looking to improve our converter. If you run into problems with the way your document uploads or downloads, please let us know by emailing support@coventi.com and attaching your file. Thanks.

Early Reviews from the Blogosphere!

March 26, 2007 by

Blog Survey

Word is spreading throughout the Web that Coventi Pages is an innovative, easy-to-use, and practical solution for sharing documents on the Internet. Here’s six of our early writeups in the blogosphere: 


Michael Pick of MasterNewMedia.org published an exhaustive review of Coventi Pages, praising our “simplicity of design” and novel approach to collaboration:  

http://www.masternewmedia.org/news/2007/03/19/
collaborative_document_writing_online_word.htm
 

“By adding a simple feature that acts as a cross between Microsoft Word comments and an instant messaging application, this new online word processor allows you to collaborate with precision, whether you are working together at the same time from different locations, or asynchronously from completely different time zones.”  

“…I can see a range of possible uses for Coventi Pages not currently met elsewhere in the market.”  


Vivek Puri of StartupSquad.com compares us favorably to Google Docs, and challenges us to keep up the innovation:

http://startupsquad.com/2007/03/22/coventi-real-time-
real-persistent-collaboration/
  

“It has been quite sometime since I came across a collaboration tool which delivers features that can make collaboration happen for real. But as always you will have a few smart people working on your wishes. Recently I found Coventi to be just such a team which is making efforts to deliver something beyond the regular collaboration feature-set that you might expect from web-based apps.”

“With Coventi, the complete discussion stays with your document and you can make changes accordingly whenever you want.”   


George Siemens of eLearnSpace compares us favorably to wikis, joining a chorus of educators that see real promise in Coventi Pages:  

http://www.elearnspace.org/blog/archives/002839.html  

“If I want to approve changes (or hold discussions around suggested changes – in context, instead of the “discuss” wiki tab), rather than have them directly inserted into a document, wikis don’t work that well. Coventi combines the collaborative nature of wikis…with the ability to comment and discuss a document (like Word).”  


Miguel Guhlin of Around the Corner v2 sees web-based word-processing with Coventi’s discussion features as a killer app for education:  

http://www.edsupport.cc/mguhlin/archives/2007/03/entry_2877.htm  

“It’s pretty impressive… when can we get these tools to setup in K-12 schools?”  


Miles at the London Advice Services Alliance appreciates our emphasis on discussion rather than group editing:  

http://www.lasa.org.uk/ictchampion/2007/03/19/collaborative-
document-writing/
  

“Coventi Pages looks to be the most interesting of the emerging players in the collaborative writing space with its stripped down set of writing features (like Google Docs) and strong focus on promoting discussion, highlighting text and notes to the fore.”  


JLTitus from Learning Nuggets is an educator that keeps it short and sweet:  

http://jonatitus.wordpress.com/2007/03/20/coventi-pages-blog/  

“Ok, tell me this isn’t TOTALLY cool.”  


Coventi Pages is growing fast, adding scores of new users daily. These first returns are very positive, and reviews will only get stronger as we use your feedback to improve our service.   

So, thanks to all of you who have been using Coventi to share your work online! Keep on spreading the word, and keep your emails to feedback@coventi.com coming!  

What makes Coventi Pages different?

March 1, 2007 by

So people have been asking how we’re different from Wikis, Google Docs and other online collaboration products.  Here are some of the things we do differently:

1.  Comments in Context

Highlighting text and writing notes in the margin is something we’re all used to from pen and paper.  We built that same interaction into Coventi Pages, so a Reviewer can easily point out that “Dan and myself” should be “Dan and me,” or suggest a new way of opening paragraph 4 of a document. pen and paper

2.  Feedback at your Fingertips 

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The simplicity of the “Comments in Context” insight can be a bit deceptive. It’s when you dig deeper that you realize, for an author this is a really powerful way to organize feedback.
No more digging through piles of emails and paper printouts to look up what someone said about the fourth paragraph in the second draft.  With Coventi Pages, it’s all in one place, sorted, filtered, and right where you need it.

And since people can reply to each others’ comments in real-time, you’ve also got a discussion board/chat room, tied to the document, across its entire lifetime.  That is really powerful.

3.  The Big Picture

To take the 10,000 foot view, maybe the biggest way we’re different is in our conceptual model. 

Unlike everybody else it seems, we decided not to follow the philosophy that everyone is an author and anyone can edit at any time.  The “Wiki Way” definitely works great in some situations, like Wikipedia, where the goal (at least originally) is to aggregate information.*

But for most documents (press releases, legal briefs, college essays, etc)  one or two people take responsibility for driving the document, and the rest of the group is responsible for giving feedback.  That’s the model we used for Coventi Pages, and from our user interviews, it’s the way most groups work.  I think Dan is planning a future post to delve a bit more into how we do this with our role-based tools, so I’ll stop here. 

But post a comment and let us know what you think.  It would be great to hear from you.


* An aside: It’s interesting that once Wikipedia became a de facto authority, it was forced to address this boundary between openness and editorial control. 

Look at the role played by Wikipedia sysops.  And some of the issues involved.  It’s also interesting to read about wiki gardening.

Thanks for the Help, Erica!

February 21, 2007 by

A good friend of ours, Erica Perng, has written an excellent Help Center for the site. Check it out here, or if you’re logged in click the Help link in the upper-right-hand corner of your screen:

Navigate to Help Center

If you’re a web startup looking for a good freelance help center, let me know, I’ll be more than happy to put you in touch.

Hold the Phone: Pages in Real-Time

February 8, 2007 by

Using Coventi Pages to discuss your documents is a great alternative to email, but it makes a killer substitute for the phone as well. Coventi Pages’ discussion interface was designed to handle rapid-fire, real-time discussions with your whole team.

Clicking on a conversation scrolls you to the relevant section of the Page, so feedback is targeted and immediate. Discussions are updated every few seconds, so reply posts appear as soon as they’re created. Conversations with new activity bubble up to the top of the list, and stand out visually so that nothing will get missed.

When issues get resolved, conversations are immediately moved from the “Open” list to the “Closed” list. When an author opens a new draft for editing, reviewers are notified. When that draft is made into a new Page revision, everyone is alerted and automatically taken to that revision so that no one gets left behind.

The phone can work when two people discuss a single revision of a document. With Coventi Pages, you and your entire team can take a document from first to final draft in one sitting. I think Alexander Graham Bell would approve.

Questions? Shoot me an email at dan AT coventi DOT com.

What can I do with a Coventi Page?

February 8, 2007 by

Maybe you’re drafting a project proposal.  Or a new resume.  Or a legal brief, college essay, press release, journal paper, the list goes on.

What all of these documents have in common is that they take a few rounds of feedback to get right.  You write up a first draft, share it with people you trust, get their comments, then work the feedback into a new draft, repeating the cycle until everyone is satisfied that the document is done.

In all of these cases, Coventi Pages can streamline the process.  Here are some recent examples of how we’ve used Pages at Coventi:

Video scripts

For the “Introduction To Pages” video, Dan first wrote up an outline of the “scenes” he wanted to include.  We discussed the basic flow over Coventi, then Dan added dialogue, which we tweaked back and forth over several revisions.  Finally, Dan added in the slide timings and descriptions of screenshots for the final script.

Even though we sit in the same office, it was hugely useful to be able to drill down and give each other feedback directly in the context of the script.

Articles of Incorporation

Legalese is overwhelming.  Starting a company requires reading, understanding, and being responsible for more legal documents than I would ever have imagined.  It was a huge help to be able to share these documents on Coventi and ask questions to outside experts who wouldn’t otherwise have had time to meet with us in person.

Meeting notes for our advisors

We have the good fortune of being able to meet with our advisors every week.  They’re very busy people, so the opportunity to meet in person and bounce ideas, discuss strategies and set goals is valuable time.

To maximize utility for everyone involved, each week we write up an agenda beforehand with points we’d like to discuss, then share it over Coventi.  This gives our advisors an opportunity to call out areas they’d like to discuss in particular, and if they can’t make it, to join in on discussions in lieu. 

This blog post

Here’s a nice case of reflexive symmetry.  We’re just getting started with this blog and I wanted to make sure I was setting a tone and pace that matched Dan’s expectations.  I shared this post with him over Coventi, where we pared down my first draft and made it a heck of a lot better.

Your Pages

I’ll stop here from going on about how we use Coventi Pages.  Let’s hear from you.  Get in touch with me at peter AT coventi DOT com or write a comment below, and I’ll write a post about your user story.  Or better yet, we’ll write a post together using Coventi Pages.

What is Coventi Pages?

February 4, 2007 by

Coventi Pages is the easiest way to share, discuss and revise your documents on the web.

Working on documents over email is painful

If you’ve ever used email to work on a document with a group, you know how painful that can be. It’s fine when there’s only two or three people involved, but anything larger and the whole thing becomes pretty messy.

All your reviewers get an inbox filled with drafts and rewrites, comments and suggestions. As the author, you now have all these messages to work into your next revision.

It would be great if you could meet with your group in person to hammer out a final draft, but with busy schedules and people spread out potentially all over the world (or even just the next building over) that can be hard to do.

How does it work?

Write a Page on Coventi, or upload a Word file. Then submit a list of email addresses to share your page. We’ll send your group an invitation with a link they can click to read your latest draft.

If someone wants to give you feedback, they highlight a piece of text with their mouse and write a note in the margin, just like pen and paper. And since anyone can reply, each comment can be the spark of a group discussion, all in real-time. (Kind of like IM’ing around your documents)

When it comes time for you to take everyone’s feedback and make changes, all of those comments and suggestions are right in context. You can sort, filter and organize, then zoom right to the section where you need to make a change.

When you push out your next draft, everyone receives an email to come have another look, and give the next round of feedback. Keep discussing and revising until everyone is satisfied that the Page is done (or you’ve reached the deadline!)

How do I sign up?

So that’s Coventi Pages in a nutshell. Come have a look and let us know what you think.  Sign up for an account through www.coventi.com, or click here to go directly to the signup page.

Email me with any questions or feedback at peter AT coventi DOT com.  Or better yet, write up a Coventi Page, and invite me to discuss it with you.