Since Microsoft saw the writing on the wall, realized the world was moving to the cloud, and developed Office 365, a cloud-based version of its ubiquitous Office suite, the old arguments about outdated software have all but gone out the window. Office 365 means that you no longer have to be on the corporate network or a virtual private network (VPN) to access its various software applications, and that means plenty of opportunities for IT departments that want to save money and keep every application within the one ecosystem.
However tempting it may be, and however it may seem this particular cloud-based suite is the answer to all IT prayers, it can still be dangerous to force all organizational processes into the Office 365 ecosystem. Take entity management for example: in many organizations that see Microsoft as the only secure answer to all system needs, the Head of IT may decree that the compliance team must use SharePoint for entity management. But SharePoint does not work for entity management, and in this article we’ll look at some of the reasons why.
SharePoint & Entity Management: Dealing With a Blank Canvas
While a “blank canvas” might not sound so bad – after all, it means you can tailor it to your exact needs and make sure the application does just what you want it to – a blank canvas is also, well, blank. SharePoint will not work for entity management out of the box; it requires development, someone to dig under the hood, add web parts, build templates, play with the code and get it to link up where you need it to link up.
That blank canvas will need bespoke development before you can even think about using it for entity management – and even then, it could be at best a mash-up of bits and pieces being forced down certain workflows and user journeys. And that development? SharePoint developers don’t come cheap, and you’ll need to keep someone on hand to help if things go awry, or if there’s any issues or broken parts. That person will likely be the IT support desk, and you’ll be in a queue with everyone else reporting issues with their equipment and software. What happens if you can’t access entity data and a filing deadline flies by?
SharePoint is Basic
Aligned with that blank canvas is the knowledge that SharePoint is built on real estate that says one size fits all. Its makers assume you will dig into it and tailor it to your own needs, and so they build it only to a base level – a skeleton on which you must put flesh. Everyone starts with that base level, making it somewhat one size fits all; whatever department you’re in, whatever use you need to put it to, SharePoint starts as a kit car you need to put together in your own style.
That means the entity management team are using the same base as the HR team, the IT support team, the marketing team, the company secretary. Each and every team’s distinct needs must be drawn up from the base of SharePoint, which means that each distinct purpose is rarely 100% fulfilled.
SharePoint Needs Ongoing Maintenance
And because of all the tailoring that goes on, all those web parts that must be added and the bespoke templates that must be built to make SharePoint fit for many purposes, as well as the regular updates pushed from Microsoft HQ, there is a cycle of ongoing maintenance and checking that everything is running as it should. That IT support ticket queue is filled with requests for amendments, for fixing web parts that broke with the latest security patch, for adding just a little more development because a new process needs a new workflow.
Most corporate technology teams know they need to hire SharePoint developers to deal with this ongoing maintenance and backlog of requests, but that adds even more cost and resource to the organization’s IT budget – and SharePoint developers are not cheap labor.
Using SharePoint For Entity Management Can Be a False Economy
Entity managers are busy enough without dealing with ongoing software maintenance and spending large chunks of the annual budget just to get their SharePoint-based entity management system up to scratch.
Plus, with the amount of development required to get SharePoint to act as a central repository for the corporate record, a spreadsheet to track entities and director information, and a secure communications platform, as well as building in the necessary workflows for regulatory compliance and running reports, the IT team is facing a hefty resource bill to boot.
It’s not just about money, though; entity managers and legal operations teams are constantly accessing entity data through their entity management system. They must build organizational charts that are linked to entity data; they need to run compliance checks and ensure all entities are on time with regulatory filings; they need to give legal signatories access to documents for review and sign-off. All of this must be done in a secure, central place that can be accessed by the right people at the right time.
Even with bespoke development, SharePoint can struggle under this pressure, meaning the entity manager is stuck waiting for IT to fix things, or for an inefficient report to be run, or any manner of issues that can crop up because you’re forcing a system to do things it’s not built for.
Entity Management Software is Fit A For Purpose Out of The Box
Opting to use a software application for entity management just because it’s there and can sort-of maybe do the job is not the way to build a robust and efficient entity management and governance process – a process that’s not only built for your internal processes, but for regulatory requirements as well.
When taking a blank canvas and building out, the legal operations team may find much of their day – especially during the implementation phase – is taken up by trying to get the application to work correctly. Those who instead forego SharePoint, or any other might-do-ok software, and choose an entity management system that is built specifically for the purpose, can jump straight into the work of managing entities and thinking more proactively about governance and compliance.
Unlike SharePoint, entity management software is built with legal operations specifically in mind. Entity management software, such as Diligent Entities, helps organizations to centralize, manage and effectively structure their corporate record to improve entity governance. It can help to better ensure compliance, mitigate risk and improve decision making through an integrated governance solution.
Entity management software does many of the things SharePoint does – stores documents and information in a secure format; provides calendars, reminders and workflows – but it goes further by enabling electronic filing of statutory forms to global regulatory bodies, and helps you to surface the right information to the right people at the right time and in the right format for compliance.
Diligent Entities also seamlessly integrates with a board portal and secure document sharing platform to create the Governance Cloud, a highly secure and accessible platform for all modern governance needs, meaning all legal operations and governance matters can be dealt with in a platform built with that in mind.