Winning the Business

Warning: Sharing May Not Be Caring

The impact and potential danger of using free file-sharing tools on proposals

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Is your team using free file-sharing tools to collaborate on proposals? A recent survey by the Association for Intelligent Information Management reported that 35 percent of organizations were “not aware” their employees were using free file-sharing tools.

Be aware: What you don’t know can hurt you, your proposals, and your organization.

As proposal professionals, we must share files regularly to keep our teams collaborating and on track with deadlines. So when access, size limits, and slowdowns cause an impasse, we don’t simply throw up our hands—we look for a workaround. And there are tons of free file-sharing tools on the internet ready to make our lives easier. What’s the risk?

Lack of Visibility

Free file-sharing tools are convenient but offer no visibility. Who accessed the file? What version was it? Where is it now? If you’re working with sensitive information and intellectual property, like proposals and customer information, these are things you need to know.

Plug that visibility gap with a solution that balances availability with security—and track your data’s journey.

Standardize and enforce file-sharing security by empowering your team with a secure peer-to-peer collaboration tool that transmits data from one computer to another via your secure network.

Lack of Control

Free file-sharing tools are a boon to hackers, serving up sensitive information and potentially opening firewall ports. While most free file-sharing tools follow security standards, they may not have the proper security protocols and procedures in place to deal with sensitive documents. This puts your information in the control of people who may or may not have your best interests in mind. For example, your information may be scoured for competitive intelligence and customer information or used to generate ad revenue or marketing leads.

Take control of your data. Standardize and enforce file-sharing security by empowering your team with a secure peer-to-peer collaboration tool that transmits data from one computer to another via your secure network.

Lack of Accountability

Are you in compliance? If your proposal activities are governed by strict compliance regulations, your IT department and auditors want to know. These folks are accountable for protecting companywide data, and circumventing their protocols puts everyone at risk. For example, if your company computer exposes customer information, both you and your company may be liable. When it comes to proposals and similar sensitive information, it’s every corporate citizen’s responsibility to be accountable by following corporate policies and procedures.

Talk to your IT personnel. They’ve got your back, and they know the risks of using free file-sharing tools. Work together to research solutions that allow you to account for your data by standardizing your policy and controlling data access without risking usability and locking out partners.

Lack of Standardization

If people are picking their own free file-sharing tools, it is unlikely they will all pick the same one. This can lead to a proliferation of tools, which populates your network with downloads and plug-ins that frustrate IT. Worst of all, it can lead to spreading your sensitive data beyond your organization’s control.

Today’s proposal professionals are digital natives—they expect to be able to harness technology to be successful. If you don’t standardize an easy and secure way to share and collaborate, they will take matters into their own hands. Again, that puts you, your proposal, and your organization at risk.

The internet is an empowering thing, and free file-sharing tools are convenient. But there is no way to put the content genie back in the bottle after you lose control. A few changes in how you secure, share, and collaborate on proposals can help you use your valuable time and precious resources more wisely—without the risk.


Cheryl Smith is in marketing at Privia, a Herndon, Virginia-based proposal management software provider. She can be reached at csmith@privia.com.

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  1. Phil Vitkus

    So good to discover such a wonderful organization! I hope to contribute to and learn from the APMP in the years ahead!

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