While it still sounds very much like a buzzword, ‘the cloud’ has become a vital part of business operations around the world over the past decade. People often refer to things being in ‘the cloud’ – from documents to personal photographs – but its nebulous name can invoke an unnecessary vagueness in understanding. It suggests a single, lofty location that cannot be pinned down – but this could not be further from the truth. In reality, ‘the cloud’ has already revolutionized the way business is conducted internationally, and it continues to develop and evolve.
What is ‘the cloud’?
‘The cloud’ is a computer networking method. The name was adopted from old telecoms schematics, which used a cloud symbol to denote a network element, the physical location of which was essentially irrelevant to the end-user. The use of the term ‘cloud’ is now a way to refer to the grouping together of networked elements that do not need to be managed by the end-user. Individual organizations can create their own clouds, known as enterprise clouds, or users can access larger clouds provided by corporations, known as Cloud Service Providers.
Using ‘the cloud,’ or putting something in ‘the cloud’ basically means using computing infrastructure that is located elsewhere. There are several different ways in which this can be applied, including Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), Platform as a Service (PaaS), and Mobile ‘backend’ as a Service (MBaaS).
All of these are important functions for businesses of various types and industries, but among the most important of these technological innovations is Software as a Service (SaaS). This enables the use of applications and software running within a cloud infrastructure, and is of particular use for businesses in terms of the storage and organization of data, in databases and application software.
Using cloud-based Contract Management Software
Before the advent of cloud-based facilities, businesses would be mired in the manual task of Contract Management – accumulating cabinets full of paper files, the content of which would often be misplaced or missed altogether. Finding information in these physical systems would be an activity that would consume time and resources at a disproportionate rate, and opportunities for business growth would often go unexplored. For large operations, and those with international commercial interests, the collection of paper-based contract files would be unwieldy and unmanageable.
Advances in computing began to improve that situation, as businesses were able to purchase computing equipment and move toward digitizing their Contract Management processes. This remains the case, with some organizations choosing to host their own servers and maintain their Contracts System in-house - on their own premises, with their own infrastructure. This can bring with it some significant burdens, however.
The upfront cost of buying servers, and the ongoing cost of maintaining them - with updates and trained staff – can be both prohibitively expensive, and an approach that still takes up a great deal of space within premises. While it speeds up the processing of contract information, it still represents a significant overhead for the business. This is why cloud-based software has become increasingly popular. It provides an option that not only saves money but also has the potential to increase revenue. These advantages include:
- Unlimited, scalable, off-site storage – By using cloud-based Contract Management Software, your need for both physical and digital storage space in-house is greatly reduced. This can create a saving that offsets the cost of using the cloud-based software while providing the tangible benefit of freeing up space within your premises.
- Access across devices and locations – By removing locations restrictions, your organization becomes more flexible. Staff is able to input data from any location, provided they have internet access. This saves time for the mobile workforce and means that in the current pandemic situation, work and projects can continue unaffected by staff having to work from home.
- Streamlined collaboration – A fully digital Contract Management System that is accessible across multiple devices and locations makes the process of collaboration both faster and simpler. Project partners are able to access the necessary information securely, projects and contracts can be tracked in real-time, and electronic signatures can remove delays that once slowed down businesses using the traditional management method.
- Secure back-ups of data – Using cloud-based Contract Management Software means it becomes a responsibility of the Cloud Service Provider to ensure your data is backed up, as a part of the service for which you are paying. This can not only provide peace of mind for the business, its clients, and partners, but it can also help to ensure compliance and governance requirements are met.
Data security is always the main consideration when it comes to the Contract Management System of a business, and this is an area that involves regulatory issues, as well as the effective maintenance of Customer Relations. Any loss of data – through negligence or security breach – can have a devastating effect on your enterprise, through legal action, fines, and reputational damage.
By using a cloud-based Contract Management Software package, the risk is mitigated through the obligations and requirements of the Cloud Service Provider. The provider is required to meet its own industry standards and regulations, and their security credentials and processes must be available for assessment by potential consumers. Moreover, the software package being used – such as Symfact’s Contract Management System – has its own security protocols, with secure access to the system being the main feature. This means your data is protected by a triple layer of security – by your own security processes, by the secure access features of the software, and by the standards of the Cloud Service Provider.
Revolutionizing your business
Switching to cloud-based Contract Management Software revolutionizes your business by optimizing your operation. Centralization and secure accessibility ensures that your enterprise can take full advantage of every opportunity presented by your expanding Contract Catalogue.
- Customizable reporting means that deadlines, milestones, and renewals are never missed;
- Thorough and timely housekeeping of your Contract System means that compliance and governance requirements are met;
- Streamlined operations improve Customer Relations and generate additional sales leads;
- Running costs and overheads are reduced through more efficient deployment of resources.
It all adds up to increased business agility, flexibility, and scalability – all of which are increasingly important in the economic climate of today.