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5 Key Points to Consider When Selecting Contract Management Software

Dermot Whittaker contract management software

Advanced contract management software makes running your business easier, at least in theory. If you are at the shopping stage, one of those “theoreticals” is the choice between software in the cloud (SaaS or Software as a Service) and software installed on premise. Either mode of delivery can give you a program that improves risk management, compliance, and contract quality. Below are five points to consider.

Software Delivery: Cloud or On Premise?

Once the default mode for all software, on-premise is less likely to be selected by firms  today. This  trend is driven by a desire to reallocate IT resources away from maintaining servers and updating software on one laptop after another. Those same IT people are of more value applying technology to business problems or, in some cases, configuring different parts of the business in multi-cloud environments (see how this is being done  in this recent Forbes article). With on-premise software, access to the software is limited to the machines that have the software loaded – or at any rate, to the company’s own servers. Tending this hardware becomes IT’s job.

Selecting a contract management SaaS solution from one of the many trusted vendors makes sense for a number of reasons. When you choose a cloud service, you can access it anywhere from any business-grade electronic device. Few people are tied to their office today, so why should their ability to request and sign contracts be dependent to that location?

A SaaS solution is updated from the cloud, so there is no downtime while IT uploads a new version of the software or a bug fix. The software vendor can immediately work to solve problems on their end, reducing your stress and downtime.

Security

Until recently, a debate raged about the relative security of on premise versus the cloud. The case today is that cloud offers security in ways that on-premise solutions cannot, especially as on-premise solutions are maintained in practice. Cloud-based solutions can quickly change to combat new threats by deploying updated security to clients. For cloud-based software working in the Office 365 or AWS environments, security extends to storage, processes, transmission, and documents. For contract management, opt for a solution that offers encryption of data at rest as well as in transit. Multi-factor authentication, a process that thwarts many hackers, is a must.

Ease of Use

If you have unlimited IT resources on site, on-premises solutions let you retain control of software installation and maintenance, although the size of your team will dictate how long it takes for you to get into production as they deal with multiple demands from the organization.

When your contract management software is maintained from the cloud, someone else is dealing with potential problems so you can concentrate on getting your job done.

SaaS solutions are designed to display and function on a variety of devices – desktops, tablets, phones. Ease of use for contract management software can vary from provider to provider, but because these solutions are delivered from the web, the user's view is designed to be clean, to load fast, and to react to user input speedily. When employees have to struggle with a software program, they are likely to use it as little as possible or perhaps not at all. SaaS solutions are ready for use by business people; a return on investment is more quickly achieved because the system is widely employed.

Safer Storage

Storing your data on local computers and servers used to work well for small to mid-sized companies. Some organizations prefer having their investment on site and in their hands. This method may also invite disaster. If the company suffers a cataclysmic event, the business can permanently lose essential data. Nowadays that cataclysmic event can include a sophisticated hack or malware.

To guard against loss of data or downtime in a crisis, most organizations have some sort of off-site back up, usually a form of cloud storage. The question presents itself: why not store data and replicate it entirely in the cloud, using the spread of servers across the globe to one’s advantage?

Not every hosting environment is the same. You need to choose one that has been audited for Security Operations Center (SOC) 2 compliance to make sure it meets minimum security standards. Firms using Microsoft store contracts and data in their own instance of Office 365, which lets the customer have control but in a highly protected environment.

Vendor Support

Software installed on premise can work for some companies, but choosing a contract management solution based in the cloud makes more sense for many.

Before you buy your contract management software, you need to make certain that the company you are considering has the expertise that you need. Inquire about their security and software updating practices. Most important, make certain that they understand the contract management needs of your particular industry, be it manufacturing, entertainment, life sciences, healthcare, finance, or insurance.

You can make a case for choosing either on-premise or cloud-delivered contract management software. Cloud computing is the more popular choice because of its ease of use, lower cost, and security options. Before you choose, research both options.