Making mistakes is an unavoidable part of running a business. No organization has a perfect track record and numerous examples can be found of companies with a record of mistakes ranging from the mundane to the egregious. The best any business can do is to equip itself with the methods, procedures and tools to help alleviate the risk of a errors and other problems.
Many organizations have strict document retention policies related to their obligations to state and federal authorities. Health records, insurance records, real estate records, records for the IRS, the list is endless. It is in an organization's best interest to follow these policies, but accidents can happen. If a document with a seven-year retention requirement is shredded, lost or destroyed before that time is up, it typically isn't intentional. However, this doesn't mitigate the potential negative impact its loss could have on the organization.
When a company signs a contract with another organization, if the physical paper document is accidentally lost or destroyed, its contractual obligations continue unabated. Usually critical contract details are retained elsewhere, but that does not eliminate the potential for penalties that can be assessed for failure to comply with security regulations. This can be a serious problem. As but one example, the Sarbanes-Oxley Act allows for individuals who knowingly destroy or hide records to obstruct an investigation or administration of any matter related to a government agency be fined and/or imprisoned for up to 20 years. This problem is alleviated with the help of Contract Lifecycle Management (CLM) solutions. One of the advantages of a cloud-based CLM system is that digital copies of documents are centrally stored in an environment in which physical destruction is no longer an issue. Document files are backed up frequently, so the risk of losing a digital document can be effectively eliminated. If a business has documents virtually stored in this manner, they may not even be required maintain a physical copy. This varies from industry to industry and state to state. Even if a required physical document is accidentally destroyed, the ramifications are generally far less if there is a digital version available to be downloaded or printed.
Of course, virtual document storage doesn't necessarily mean documents are completely immune to accidental deletion. If accidental deletion occurs, it is, however, easy to restore the most recent copy of the document. In addition, when using a CLM, best practices typically dictate that all versions of a document are maintained for historical purposes.
Another best practice, related to access rights, allows administrators to limit the right to delete or change a document to only those individuals who are most knowledgeable, i.e. to those who are trained and least likely to make a mistake when accessing a sensitive document. All others may only be permitted to view a document. They are not allowed to delete a document or to change its meta data. Such rights can be easily managed at an individual file or folder level.
Moreover, robust CLM solutions have extensive audit trail functionality. If something is unintentionally (or even intentionally) deleted from the system, administrators are able to see exactly who deleted the item and when. This feature discourages malicious acts, allowing the culprit to be quickly identified, but it also discourages others from careless treatment of important documents.
The very nature of a cloud-based system prevents the loss of information. These solutions are constantly saving and backing up data to the cloud, so the chances of information being permanently removed from the system are very slim.
Accidents can happen, but with the right CLM solution, deleted documentation doesn't have to ever be an issue.
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