Abid is due to close tomorrow and your e-mail server goes down. Sound familiar? You are not the only one experiencing network downtime, and downtime can be the direct result of a security problem. In todays procurement world, security involves much more than sealed bids that remain under lock and key until a specified hour. Security in the world of e-procurement has a different meaning. New technology has created the electronic efficiencies of data sharing and document construction, made digital signatures and e-contracts a reality, and brought security concerns to new levels. When an entitys e-mail server goes down, vital links to customers and vendors go down with it, and e-procurement grinds to a halt.
In the 1980s, computer users were concerned with viruses that spread mostly by floppy disk. With e-mail, one of todays most important business communication tools, viruses are spreading faster than ever. Weve all heard of the Michaelanglo virus, well now weve got Bugbear.B.
No procurement professional who uses computers is immune to viruses, and neither are your customers. A single attachment, execution of a virus from the Internet, or e-mail can lead to widespread infection in a matter of hours and result in costly downtime. In this age of e-procurement, server downtime can be disastrous. There is no way to measure the actual value of the information rendered unrecoverable by a virus, but the cost can be highfrom a few hours of inconvenience to months of work lost on a contract.
There is good news though. As technology continues to advance, so do our means to secure computer networks and with them, procurement efficiencies.
There are various antivirus and Internet content security solutions on the market, which offer enterprise security strategies to protect servers, desktops, mobile users, and e-procurement efforts.
Now the tough part. In todays economic climate, justifying the purchase of a security solution has taken on added effort. Public entities may no longer base information technology (IT) investment decisions solely on the need to update or upgrade. Increasingly, IT purchasing decisions are based on return on investment (ROI).
Heres where procurement professionals can demonstrate the value of an entitys investment. In the recent past, ROI had been difficult to measure. As a result of changes in IT investment mentality, many vendors are providing detailed information on ways to calculate both ROI and payback periods. Calculations are based on a number of factors, including reduced system downtime, damage assessment, and cleanup.
Its interesting to consider the purchase of a security solution from a procurement angle. While all contracts are important to an entity and its operation, network security has a direct correlation to e-procurement practices. Procurements enhanced reliance upon technology has brought it, along with the entire entity, into the fold of stakeholders.
By moving from a reactive security strategy to one of prevention, public entities will benefit from reduced downtime. E-contracts are just one element of a secure computer network, but in todays procurement world, a vital one.