Over the past years, enterprise business processes have been revolutionized by cloud computing technology. The very convenient means of accessing resources, be it data or computing power in the form of any software solutions, has made cloud computing very favorable for enterprise business operations. It effectively eliminated the need for having mainframe hardware readily available on-premises. Cloud computing technology is helpful especially for operations that are not based in a single location. Users are now able to collaborate and work effectively on projects even from remote locations. Companies can also operate without worrying about the risks of data security because cloud service providers like Microsoft and AWS have a very reliable infrastructure to manage (encrypt) data at REST and in transit.
Enterprise use of Contract Management
Contract management has been at the center of enterprise business operations for as long as we could remember. There are many benefits to a cloud-based contract management system. Let's compare cloud-based vs manual contract management systems. Companies which still use manual contract management require more hours for inferior results as cloud-based contract management. Also, manual contract management increases risk of any errors that could occur in the process of editing contracts.
Even with all the benefits that cloud computing offers why do some enterprise organizations still choose to operate in the conventional methods? It is common for people to doubt a new technology, but compare that doubt with the benefits that it offers and the success stories of other businesses. It is fundamental that you update your business methods with the changing trends so that you and your contract management team can be more productive in their tasks and activities.
In this blog, we will discuss how the contract management process can benefit from cloud computing. Of course, there are several benefits to it, we are going to discuss the four most basic beneficial features for contract operations. Before getting into those, if you are a beginner, I do suggest that you read some of the previous blogs on commercial contract management, the challenges in contract management and solutions offered by an automated solution, and why you should digitalize your contract management to gather a basic knowledge on the topics we are going to discuss today.
Better Collaboration and Communication
Contract management is an operation that requires a fair amount of collaboration and communication during all of its stages. Right from initial negotiations until a deal is closed there is a lot of discussion between both the contractual parties and both of their legal teams need to be working hand in hand to come out with an effective contractual agreement. Both teams need to communicate their requirements clearly and make sure that the contract is including the right clauses that they both agree upon so that there will be no confusion in doing business in the future.
SharePoint Foundation, Cloud Convenience
Cloud-based contract management can deliver those features, that would allow them to collaborate and communicate effectively throughout the procedure. The right software solution to manage contracts in this situation would be a SharePoint-based contract management solution. Microsoft’s SharePoint is a very advanced platform for collaboration on documents. It has a successful track record since its inception in the early 2000s. SharePoint Online is a great cloud computing platform for any enterprise organization. Imagine your contract management solution built into your SharePoint environment. It would be built leveraging the efficient document collaboration features of SharePoint and the complete efficiency of Microsoft’s cloud services.
As for communication, you can also use the very secure communication methods offered by Microsoft with your SharePoint-based contract management conveniently. Not only are the communication methods efficient and suitable for enterprise companies, but they also offer digital security on those conversations.
SharePoint-based contract management software is the right choice for any company that aims at streamlining its contract management operations using cloud computing methods.
Centralized Contract Document Storage
We could not stress enough how important it is to have a centralized contract document repository. We have discussed in our previous blogs why the traditional contract document storage methods, aka the file cabinet for paperwork, are inconvenient and inefficient. The method is outdated and runs the risk of data breaches or data getting lost due to any other reasons. It is not the right document storage method for companies that strive for perfection in their contract management process, and if you think it is okay for your contract management to be not perfect you could not be more wrong.
In a cloud-based contract management solution, your contract management can be stored and accessed from a centralized location. This method will bring more organization to the document storage and better data security will also be ensured. If we take SharePoint-based contract management, for instance, the contract management system is already built leveraged on the efficient document management capabilities of SharePoint. You can store and access contract documents with ease in a cloud-based contract management software that is built on SharePoint.
Time and again SharePoint has proved that it is a great enterprise document management solution. The platform also ensures great access controls and features to collaborate and communicate on them, as we said in the previous section. Contract management based on SharePoint provides the best of what cloud computing has to offer for contract management operations.
Cloud-Based Contract Management and Data Security
While we are on the topic of cloud computing and contract management, it is important that we discuss the security concerns that would arise from adopting cloud-based contract management software. It goes without saying that when choosing a cloud service, it is essential to choose from a reliable service provider. There are many cloud computing service providers in the market right now, the decision should be taken after thorough research on your part.
Microsoft services are recommended. Like we said before, Microsoft SharePoint and other related services like OneDrive have state-of-the-art data protection protocols in place to ensure it is safe from any cyber-attacks or other potential data breaches. All the data in SharePoint is stored in Microsoft data centers. Microsoft ensures the safety of data both at transit and at rest. Once data starts from clients, into service, and between datacenters, it is encrypted using the best methods by Microsoft. These encryption methods include SSL/TLS connections. Data is further secured from any disaster at datacenters by moving the data between datacenters. The datacenter itself has multiple levels of security and access controls so you can be sure that data is secure.
In a SharePoint-based contract management solution, the access control rests with the SharePoint admin. The admin can decide who can access the data in the platform. It also has features that allow the admin to review the audit trail, which increases accountability in the contract management process. The drawback in a third-party contract management solution is that there is someone else with access to your data. With SharePoint, you can have the benefits of a cloud computing system and avoid any worries about data security.
When you deploy cloud-based enterprise solutions to manage your business operations, one of the main benefits that come with it is user-friendliness. Say you have a contract management solution, and all the data is stored in servers that are on-premises. Your teams, given that the majority of them are working from home due to the COVID emergency, need to go through a series of hurdles to access the data. They might need to use a remote access system, which would be comparatively slow in retrieving the data and users might have to wait to get their turn. A lot of time is wasted here, time they could rather have invested in working with that data, affects their productivity. Using cloud computing methods, you can avoid all of that trouble and easily access data. Also, cloud computing allows users to work on the data simultaneously, regardless of their physical location.
If SharePoint is what you deployed at your organization, you can have a great contract management solution built on it. The impressive thing about this is that owing to the highly customizable nature of SharePoint you can create a solution that is just right for your contract management needs. If your contract management is packed with unnecessary features it could also become a problem and would affect user-friendliness.
It should also be noted that SharePoint is very user-friendly in nature. If you decide to deploy contract management based on SharePoint, you can save time and money on user training. Many of the companies are using SharePoint, not knowing its potential, using it only as a document storage facility. Users might already be familiar with the working and training in contract management system, which will make learning features on software already in place easier than learning a whole new software. Anyone that has used Microsoft Office can use Microsoft SharePoint without learning a whole new software. If you have made a Word document, you can easily maneuver through the features of SharePoint.
The introduction of cloud computing to your contract management operation will definitely make all the processes in the contract management operation very user-friendly and accessible to the teams. Teams can perform very well in the current work climate.
Cloud computing is the present and future of enterprise business solutions. Especially in contract management, an operation that requires a lot of careful decisions and continued collaborations. The matter is not just about digitalizing the contract management process but how you decide to do it. You could adopt any contract management solution, but given the current workforce situation, when remote work is gaining much traction, it would be a wise decision to invest in a cloud-based contract management solution. And what better cloud service than that of Microsoft’s where you can create an efficient enterprise solution like a contract management system.
Like we discussed in the blog, a Microsoft SharePoint-based contract management system could deliver the promises of cloud computing and efficiently execute the functions of contract management. Everything that we are hoping to achieve with a cloud computing system, like better collaboration and communication, centralized storage, better data security, a user-friendly solution, and many more features can be achieved with SharePoint and related services.
Better Late than Never
Even though teams have gotten used to the remote work culture, they might not be able to give their maximum to the processes. This might be due to many reasons. It could be because they are not working with an efficient contract management system or maybe the system you already have in place might not be efficient enough. You must rethink the management operations at this moment. It is never a wrong decision to invest in an efficient cloud-based contract management software. It is like they say, “better late than never”.
Written by Adarsh Dorai
Adarsh is a SharePoint expert with hands-on experience developing various SharePoint and Office 365 solutions.