While there has been some debate about the security of data stored in the cloud, the reality is that there is a great deal of emphasis put on ensuring security with cloud applications.
The real question that you should be asking is, "Is your QMS at risk if it is not in the cloud?" The answer to that question is, "Absolutely." Why can that be said?
Paper-Based Systems and Business Continuity Planning
Organizations that use on-premise, paper, and spreadsheet-based quality management systems face a challenge when designing a viable business continuity plan.
An essential part of a comprehensive risk management strategy, a solid business continuity plan is designed to protect the assets and processes of a business in the event of a crisis or disaster.
Ignoring the necessity of a business continuity plan puts a company at considerable risk. At the least, a disruption in business processes caused by a disaster event may cause you to lose clients. At the worst, it could spell the end of your business entirely.
According to FEMA estimates, 40 percent of businesses do not reopen following a disaster. On top of that, another 25 percent fail within one year. These statistics underscore the seriousness of failing to adequately plan to protect your business in the case of disaster.
Disasters That Could Impact Your QMS
When considering business continuity planning, it is important to factor in the effect of disaster on your quality management system. If your QMS is compromised, in addition to the impact of the disaster itself on your normal business processes, significant compliance issues will also arise.
Here are some crisis events that could affect your QMS:
- natural disasters such as hurricanes, tornadoes, or floods
- theft or vandalism of your property
- data breaches and other IT security issues
- reputational damage to your business
- malicious action on the part of former or current employees
While this is by no means a comprehensive list, it does provide an idea of the challenges facing a business with only localized quality management systems.
Assessing Your Risk
Risk assessment involves an analysis of the probability and consequences of a crisis event for your particular business. You must assess the likelihood that a particular event will happen and extrapolate the possible consequences of that event.
Then, you must design a business contingency plan to eliminate or mitigate negative repercussions of the events for which you plan.
How Your QMS Will Be Affected
Since your quality management system is an essential component of your overall business management process, your continuity plan must contain an analysis of threats to your QMS, along with methods of mitigating the risk associated with those threats.
For example, consider what would happen to your QMS in the event of a fire at your facility. If your QMS is completely housed on-premise and maintained only on paper-based documents, it is likely that your QMS will be compromised significantly. With paper documents destroyed by fire, there is no chance of recovery of that important data.
What about housing your QMS on spreadsheets within a computer program such as Excel? The same issue arises. Computers, peripherals, and backup disks stored in-house are all vulnerable to a localized disaster event like fire or flood.
The Cloud Provides Enhanced Security
When you work through potential disaster scenarios, it soon becomes clear that a solid business contingency plan must include some way of storing and maintaining vital business data, including your quality management system, offsite.
The cloud provides an ideal location for QMS storage. Because your QMS can be accessed from any location via cloud technology, a localized disaster event will not lead to data loss.
While local backups are a good practice for business continuity purposes, a cloud-based QMS offers another layer of security by providing remote storage of your vital quality management information. To ensure that your QMS is not at risk, choosing a cloud-based system is the best possible option.