Are you looking for a good scare this Halloween? Then think back to the days of hard paper copies. Most business owners had filing cabinets crammed full of years of documents in case they needed to access them again sometime in the future. Then, after computers became commonplace in the workforce, people found they could reduce the amount of their hard copy paperwork by scanning important documents and storing them on their hard drives. The only problem with that was when those hard drives crashed, the important documents disappeared.
Then came the cloud and that changed everything. It enables business owners and procurement professionals to upload their important documents, such as contracts, to a server where they will be stored safely and securely until they’re needed. But some people are spooked at the idea of storing their important and sensitive documents—especially their contracts—on a server they have no control over. They fear the documents won’t be secure, or they won’t have access to them when they need them.
If your business makes use of contracts—and let’s face it, what kind of business doesn’t these days—here’s what you need to know to overcome your fear of the cloud.
Who Uses the Cloud?
The 2015 State of the Cloud Report by RightScale, found that 93% of survey respondents use the cloud. What’s more, according to Wired Magazine, significant facets of the U.S. government are adopting cloud practices. For instance, the Department of Education, USDA, U.S. Army, Navy and Air Force, and the Department of Justice have all begun using the cloud. And cloud adoption isn’t only for basic government structures. Federal agencies spent over $1.5 billion last year on cloud computing.
What’s more, the General Services Administration in the U.K. just asked agencies and contractors for their input on a new “centralized contract model” for procurement in the cloud.
Business owners are keeping up with the move to the cloud as well. Integra, in its Cloud Market of the Future Report, estimates this year’s $43 billion cloud market will grow to $55 billion by next year.
How Safe is the Cloud?
Back in 2012, Mike Lynch, the founder of Autonomy said that fears related to the cloud were unfounded. Taking basic steps like changing your password often and using strong passwords or utilizing two-step authentication are measures each user can take to protect their company’s data in the cloud. Additionally, choosing vendors that comply with strict data security and privacy policies will help keep corporate data safe. If you have concerns about the level of security offered by a software-as-a-service (SaaS) provider, then put them to the test. With proper notice, reputable providers will allow you to conduct a penetration test in order to evaluate the security of their platform by attempting to find system vulnerabilities.
If you look at everyone who uses the cloud, including businesses and world governments, along with the options you have for steel tight servers, it’s easy to see that using the cloud for your contract storage is perfectly safe.
Finally, let’s talk about the last reason people have for their scaredy-cat behavior when it comes to online contracts.
Can’t I Just Manage My Contracts the Old-Fashioned Way?
Old habits die hard, and if you’re one of the few people left who hesitate to use the cloud for your contract management because you think the old way is just fine, you should know that the process may be costing you some serious time and money. For instance, the Journal of Contract Management reports that a full 71% of companies were unable to locate at least 10% of their contracts. If you’re like most business owners or procurement professionals, 10% of your contracts is significant. And if you can’t find the contracts, you won’t be able to effectively audit them, fulfill your obligations, or have a chance to renew them when the time is right.
Another study conducted in 2014 by Huron Legal shows that 57% of respondents were worried about the way their company handled contract management. That same study revealed that a lot of businesses aren’t properly monitoring and updating their contract forms and templates, which could lead to major financial losses.
So, What’s the Solution?
Obviously, the old-fashioned way of managing contracts isn’t the best option. That’s why many companies are turning to online contracts. When you use a contract management service, you will streamline the process, which saves you both time and money. Here are some of the benefits you’ll see when you get over your fear of the cloud and move your contract management online.
- You can upload drafts to a contract management system and share the document with coworkers, clients, and partners in order to edit it together. This system of collaboration will allow you to compare drafts together online, submit changes, and review revised contracts so you won’t have to worry about hard copies getting lost in transit, or waiting for the other party to receive it.
- The system allows for clear and transparent communication and online negotiation with a message board so everyone can see all comments. This eliminates miscommunication, which can seriously hamper the progress of a contract—and in the worst-case scenario, result in one party walking away from negotiation.
- All parties sign online with a legally binding e-signature. These types of electronic signatures hold the same legal value as signing with a pen. This will speed up the process for all parties involved.
- The contract management system will keep you informed about upcoming deadlines and renewal options, so all parties can easily stay in compliance.
- A cloud-based system makes it easy to stay on top of contract lifecycle management obligations no matter where you are. For instance, you will always have access to your files and be able to see which of your contracts are in negotiations, awaiting signatures, have an approaching deadline, or are up for renewal.
What’s Left to Fear About the Cloud?
Halloween is a time of fright and scary things, but moving your contracts to the cloud doesn’t have to be one of them. If you haven’t yet adopted the cloud to hold your important contracts because of fear of the unknown, we hope this information has helped you move past it.
Most professionals are keeping an eye on cost control and risk management, and moving your contracts to the cloud is one of the best ways to accomplish the goals important to you. So don’t be spooked about the cloud. It may be the best thing that’s happened to your bottom line in a long time.