Guide to Managing a Contract Data Room
What is a data room?
Whether bidding, contracting or reporting against a delivery contract, there are plenty of occasions when vital paperwork needs to be managed within a company. In previous years, the contract data room was usually a heavily monitored and physically-secured room which might be located in the offices of a company, or even the offices of their lawyers, depending on the nature of the work involved. It contained all of the contractual paperwork and related documents and ensured its safety via physical security means.
Any authorised individual who needed to see or input into the paperwork would need to physically visit the room and make additions or revisions under supervision and a physical document control process. As technology evolved and digital offices came into play, online versions of paperwork could be updated with version control systems, but this could be onerous and confusing and errors tended to occur, especially if individuals needed to simultaneously view or collaborate on paperwork. One other key issue related to security, as paperwork could be saved locally and distributed.
Today, digital software means that companies can securely manage their contract data room online. There are different ways to do this; some firms will use a general file sharing system and others will invest in bespoke solutions that are designed for their specific industry. There are various vendors in the space and different products with their own set of features and benefits. Each company should consider its needs and choose a provider accordingly.
Things to consider
All documentation must be securely stored so that only authorised individuals can access it and so that documents cannot be sent externally without pre-set authorisation from nominated individuals.
A digital contract data room package should ensure that version control happens automatically, so that nominated individuals are able to make changes and see changes that their peers have made. Bespoke systems will make this collaboration and document updating process easy, allowing earlier documentation versions to be automatically back saved and flagging up additions and edits, with approvals and sign-offs managed digitally too before being absorbed into the document itself.
Ease of use
Modern digital contract data room packages must also make document management and document sharing easy. The interface needs to be intuitive and the system as quick and simple to get to grips with as possible.
Most contracts have large amounts of paperwork associated with them, and these will need to be stored in an organised way that makes it easy to find and reference documents. The system must also be backed-up, and cloud-deployed systems are popular for this reason (and for their cost-effective licensing and virtual updates.)
Most systems will automatically allow different levels of ownership, authorisation, editing and viewing of the documentation to be set by a central administrator. This will allow the system to be managed in line with secure contract controls.
These are just some of the considerations for businesses to make, and their overall ‘needs’ list will be dictated heavily by the terms of the contract itself and the level of regulation and compliance that applies to their industry.
Find out more
We provide a highly secure, online platform for document sharing which is designed to allow your team to collaborate and share their input on the due diligence or contract management documentation you need to win bids or to contract. We primarily serve the professional services and construction sectors, and our solutions allow businesses to safely store and manage their vital documentation.
Request a demo of our data room software today and we will share the benefits for you, explaining how they can help your business to meet its contracting document sharing needs in a simple, effective, secure and compliant way.