What is a Virtual Data Room?
A Virtual Data Room is a digital solution that has replaced the traditional, highly secure physical rooms which were used for the storage and perusal of valuable and sensitive documents. These physical rooms were first implemented in the 1800s by businesses undergoing mergers and acquisitions and were giant, imposing bank vault-like rooms to which access was strictly guarded.
Of course, today, these data rooms (and the documents contained within them) have been digitised for ease of access without needing to travel to a physical location. They remain, nonetheless, extremely secure albeit by way of state-of-the-art encryption as opposed to bars, locks, and guards.
Imprima for example has been ISO 27001 certified (ISO 27001:2013 standard) since 2010, and its scope of applicability covers our entire business – our people, processes, platform, and data centers.
Looking for a Virtual Data Room? The key is to know your needs!
As with any business solution, companies looking for a Virtual Data Room provider may well find themselves faced with an embarrassment of riches. With so many options out there, it can be difficult to determine which is the best fit for your needs. Nobody can make that decision for you.
Determining the key features that matter most to you when choosing your Virtual Data Room could be based on the transaction you’re about to conduct or advise on. Whether you’re getting ready for your next merger or acquisition, or raising capital or even launching an IPO, the first step is knowing your needs. Every company and sector has its own specific challenges and requirements. It stands to reason that you should look out for key fundamentals when choosing your virtual data room and Imprima’s Due Diligence experts can help you get to market.
While every company’s priorities may differ, here are some key considerations that should be borne in mind when choosing the right Virtual Data Room provider for your company…
Do its Security Redundancies Pass Muster?
As mentioned in our blog The History of Virtual Data Rooms, the change from the old-fashioned data storage rooms to the virtual was necessitated by the need for more robust security. Information leaks that proved highly profitable to an unscrupulous few (such as the “Precognition Rat Pack” of the ‘80s and the Market Crash Millionaire, Albert H. Wiggin) proved highly damaging to many companies.
While the digital era provides its own brand of security through lines of code rather than layers of brick and steel, the common denominator is still human error.
Your corporate documents are extremely sensitive. As such, you want to ensure that your chosen virtual data room is the most secure on the market with a wealth of digital and operational redundancies to protect your data. Before committing to a contract with a service provider, ask them the right questions;
- Is the data protected by 256-bit encryption?
- Do they have the most comprehensive in-depth security certification (the ISO:27001 accreditation?)
- Does the Virtual Data Room provider offer Viewer Verification for your documents?
- How do they ensure that they are compliant with changing Data Protection laws?
- What operational steps are taken to ensure that disclosures are prevented?
- Do they make it easy to see who has accessed documents and when, so there is a trail of accountability?
- Can you use dynamic watermarks?
- Do you have the ability to disable print / download of documents remotely?
- Can you set an expiry date / time for documents?
- Does it offer role-based security access control?
- Does it afford you complete control over document access permissions?
- Is your Virtual Data Room provider exempt from the US Freedom Act?
The security of your classified documents is above all the most important factor in this important decision.
Does it Have a User-Friendly Interface?
Security is without a doubt, your number one priority, whatever the nature of your company and industry. But while a service’s security features may be up to your high standards, that doesn’t necessarily mean you’ve found the solution that’s right for you. You also need to be sure that your Virtual Data Room is easy and intuitive to use.
In many cases, the integration of new technology can represent a series of pain points as different users of all kinds get to grips with its interface and features. If a platform isn’t designed to be easy to use, it can cause further delays and frustrations impacting negatively on your operational efficiency in an already time-sensitive moment. Remember, it’s likely it won’t just be your workforce that will use the Virtual Data Room to access your documents but other parties, too. Parties whom you cannot train to make more proficient with the VDR platform prior to its use.
Look for features that make for an easy and intuitive interface for the widest possible range of users. These may include such features as intuitive and automated Q&A workflows, Multi-Language Support, and Multi-device functionality.
Leading Virtual Data Rooms should slide seamlessly into your everyday operations with minimum disruption. You shouldn’t need to upskill your workforce or set aside time to train and familiarise your team with it. It should be easy and approachable on the surface while also offering robust security and sophisticated features that you need for your peace of mind beneath the surface.
Ideally, the platform should also be customisable and flexible enough to meet your bespoke needs whilst maintaining the integrity and security of the data room.
This is why it’s so important to request a demo before you commit to a solution. This will give you the hands-on experience you need to help you make an informed decision.
Does The Service Provider Offer Support When You Need it Most?
You’ve seen the demo, you’ve reviewed the features, and you’re satisfied that your sensitive data will remain secure, but what about support?
You (and other parties who use it) need to be able to rely on your Virtual Data Room 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. You need to determine what kind of tech support the service provider offers. Will it cost extra or is it a part of the service as covered by your rates? Do you have access to your own dedicated account/project manager? Are they available in the hours when you’re likely to need them?
You’re putting your most sensitive Due Diligence documents into a data room; therefore, you would want a point of contact that you can immediately call or email should you need any assistance.
A good virtual data room provider, such as Imprima, should have 24/7 tech support. Many due diligence deals can take many hours to review and you’ll want someone that can assist you during those late hours without delay.
Waiting around for tech support to get around to responding to your query can cost you time that you simply don’t have.
Is the Virtual Data Room Providers Pricing Reasonable and Transparent?
So, you’ve carried out a thorough audit of the Virtual Data Room’s security provisions, capabilities, and interface. Now it’s time to get to brass tacks.
‘How much is this going to cost?’
No business regardless of size or turnover can afford to waste money on services that are surplus to requirements, nor can they afford to be caught out by rates that seem perfectly reasonable but come with a host of hidden extras.
Find out if there are any additional charges for additional storage, functionalities, or users. Find out everything! However, find out what the continuing payments are if you retain the data room as soon as the initial contract ends.
Can You See Case Studies or Testimonies From Satisfied Clients?
You’re satisfied with the conversations you’ve had. The security is the best on the market, it’s user-friendly with no plug-ins or unnecessary downloads, you have the tech support you need, and the price is right. But you’ve been in the game long enough to take anything a B2B service provider says about themselves with a grain of salt.
What speaks more eloquently than any website copy is what other users are saying about the service.
Are they satisfied with the support and security that the data room offers? Many clients provide testimonials and provide unbiased reviews to give you an insight into how the virtual data room worked for them.
See if the service provider has a “User Testimonials” page or links to reviews on third-party sites. Does the service provider have prestigious clients in your industry? If so, they’re likely to have their names and logos prominently displayed on their website. This will demonstrate that they are trusted by clients with demanding needs and offer a service that’s good enough for the best.
But only you can decide if it’s good enough for you.
About Imprima VDR
Now that you know a little more about what to look for in a Virtual Data Room, what makes ours worthy of your attention?
Glad you asked!
We’ve handled over $1 trillion worth of transactions thanks to being the most secure virtual data room provider on the market. We’ve been voted “VDR Platform of the Year” in the ACQS and M&A Today Global Awards, as well as being voted “Best VDR Service” by Lawyers World. We have a wide range of prestigious clients from a variety of industries including;
- JP Morgan
- And many, many more
Still, we don’t expect you to take our word for it. Click here to book a demo now!