I have taken a deeper look at PD’s handling of cloud integration and documents and would like product managers and engineers have a deeper look at this issue. We all need to deliver lawful, sustainable, and user-friendly services. To meet these goals, some work seems necessary.

  1. By default, PD stores any documents created or uploaded to PD on its standard cloud services (I believe AWS). Documents can be accessed from the PD application. As of now (correct me if I am wrong), there is no automated document backup scenario that users can control. You can address documents’ hyperlinks via PD standard API, but not download anything automatically.
  2. PD has introduced a feature called “Smart Docs” allowing users to prepare template-based documents (contracts etc.) which can be automatically populated with contact and deal data and integrate in a very nice e-signing process. With Smart Docs, you can deliver a fully digital contracting process. For this to work, users need to integrate their Microsoft OneDrive or, alternatively, Google Drive accounts. These accounts will hold directories with the templates and automatically created folders, labelled with the clients’ full name, in which files (contracts) are stored under their file name. Or rather they not, because while those folders do contain the Word file with the clients’ data, while the signed pdf and audit trails files are not automatically transferred to this location. This really needs attention, for obvious reasons.
  3. There are third party applications, e.g. Pandadoc, which offer not only a suite for e-signatures like Smart Docs, but allow client interaction like filling out forms etc. Panda docs will show as (pdf) files in PD’s deal window, and be accessible from there, or from Google Drive if you do (4).
  4. Finally, PD users can integrate Google Drive as their default cloud service. This will store any uploaded documents (but not Smart Docs!) on the specified drive in a flat directory structure. File names do not contain any association to deals or persons (unless defined manually by renaming files.)

If you use some or all these services, you’ll end up with a document storage you can’t backup, a flat cloud directory with no associable meta data, plus maybe some client-named folders containing everything but the signed contracts. 

There are some obvious solutions to this. A key concern is enterprise-orientation: Companies need to backup their data and think beyond their current application ecosystem. This should ideally also include enterprise-friendly cloud integration. 

(Sorry for the length – I promise to refrain from posting here for the rest of the month).