How to Evaluate Enterprise Collaboration Solutions

Now that you understand what framework you’re looking for in an enterprise collaboration solution, it's time to evaluate solutions based on capabilities.

30 April 2014


In today’s world, it’s possible to extend file sharing and collaboration beyond the firewall, on the go and without compromising security or usability. 

In my last post, I shared a few basic questions you should ask when evaluating enterprise collaboration solutions. Now that you’ve mastered the basics and understand what framework you’re looking for in a solution, here are a few more ways you can evaluate solutions based on necessary capabilities. Ask yourself these three questions:

Does the vendor have a thorough understanding of regulation and certifications and proven expertise in managing risk and compliance? Look for a vendor that has experience in regulated and secure industries and ask the provider for a list of clients they’ve worked with that are similar to or in your industry. If the provider has a history of working with clients in regulated industries they most likely have been audited and had penetration testing done in the past.  Make sure you have an understanding of the certifications they’ve received, and the volume and types of audits they’ve supported.  It’s also a good idea to understand the vendor’s security processes like file encryption and how often penetration testing occurs.

Does the solution enable secure enterprise collaboration through effective controls? This is a no-brainer, but to make your life easier, your solution should complement your existing applications and support your IT team. Your provider should be able to support both end-users within your company, and end-users external to your organization with whom you may share information and collaborate with regularly. Unless you have the resources internally to support your company’s external business partners, it might make sense to look for a provider who can provision, de-provision and support all end-users as part of their services - regardless of time, location or language.

Does the solution leverage existing IT resources and integrate with current applications and security protocols? To make the buy-in and onboarding process easier, pick a solution that can leverage your existing enterprise IT investments, such as Microsoft SharePoint®, and reduce licensing, infrastructure and support costs associated with secure file sharing. Security and usability are not mutually exclusive. Consider your provider’s ability to enable users to work within familiar technology environments and support a variety of workflows—simple, complex, ad hoc, structured, public or confidential—while also maintaining a transparent and compliant information flow.

At the end of the day, you want your content to be secure – wherever it goes.  Make sure you consider the risk of sharing information across today’s gradually complex IT infrastructures - on premise, off premise, virtual and cloud - and the costs associated with upholding information security and complying with regulatory requirements.

An effective enterprise collaboration should consider people, process and technology and be able to reduce the risks associated with information sharing while enabling better IT control. By starting with your existing governance framework and defining what framework you need in a solution, you’ll be able to meet your security standards without compromising usability.  Given the evolving regulatory environment we live in, ongoing updates, training and support are essential. Understand what deployment options your vendor has available and compare these with what you need to adhere to industry and geographic regulations.  As a closing thought, technologies and processes that combine the most up to date security, compliance and risk management policies can considerably decrease the human error component of information security while supporting due diligence.

In my next post, I’ll share a few ways you can evaluate enterprise collaboration solutions based on the underlying platform and necessary capabilities – helping you gain insight into factors of consideration for keeping regulatory and business environments top of mind. Stay tuned…

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