Key Questions to Ask Your CIO About Contract Management Software

Bloomberg’s Business Week recently reported that President Obama’s IT czar, Federal Chief Information Officer Vivek Kundra is spearheading a “Shift to Cloud First” policy, which means that cloud computing should be the default option whenever possible. If the government mindset is swiftly shifting from monolithic IT servers towards cloud computing, it is a good indication that your business should also consider such a move. A perfect first step towards cloud computing is through contract management system delivered as Software-as-a-Service (SaaS). Here are key questions to ask your CIO about contract management softwares transition towards the cloud.

How can our company save?

Your CIO can provide you an accurate picture of what your current in-house systems currently cost and what portion is dedicated towards contract management and contract management tracking. He or she can also let you know how much manpower is currently dedicated towards these non-core activities. Most likely your CIO will look at processing, storage, staff training, data management and communications costs. Then, the CIO will provide you a figure of what would it cost to run the same functionality on the cloud. This is the critical first step to determine whether it makes financial sense to make the move towards virtual computing.

How much security does our company need?

After working out the financial aspect of cloud computing, the second biggest issue to handle with your CIO is the one of security. You will need to work with your CIO to determine the necessary level of security of your contract data. Cloud computing is flexible enough that contract templates can be broken down so that all the boilerplate language can be sent to the cloud, while only the sensitive data (e.g. social security numbers, tax license numbers) rest secure inside your company’s firewall. Your CIO will provide you a better picture of what is the necessary mix of on-premise, third-party hosted and self-hosted systems.

Make sure to run with your CIO a cost-to-benefit analysis of having a software contract management system that is SAS 70 Type I versus SAS Type II compliant. The Statement on Auditing Standards No. 70 (SAS 70) is a widely used compliance audit for assessing the internal control framework on service organizations that provide critical outsourcing activities for other entities. The SAS 70 Type II Audit the highest level of compliance.

Can a virtual contract management system handle our peak load requirements?

A common rule of thumb is that proprietary company data centers operate between 10% to 15% of total capacity. While the redundancy in computer power is an accepted IT practice, it is a costly practice that eats up a lot of financial resources. You should check with your CIO whether a virtual contract management system could handle peak loads during busy times. Your CIO will determine whether cloud bursting is a safe and appropriate practice for your contract management processes.

What is our IT roadmap?

This conversation about moving your contract management software to the cloud is a great opportunity to evaluate your company’s IT roadmap. Would it make sense to keep the legacy in-house platform primarily as a backup and move as many tasks as possible to the cloud? This same question was faced by President Obama and Federal Chief Information Officer. Make your initial foray into the cloud with you’re an evaluation of your contract management process and evaluate whether such a move makes sense in other areas.