Top Considerations for Selecting Entity Management Software
In the face of a hybrid workforce and increasing regulatory complexity, organizations need the right technology and service to effectively manage their subsidiary governance. Powerful entity management software can automate your compliance workflows, facilitate secure collaboration, and scale to meet your evolving needs to transform your legal operations.
View our free webinar where we discuss how to select the right entity management software for your organization.
You’ll come away with practical tips for how to select the right platform for your needs. You’ll learn about:
- Shifts in market trends that will impact your legal team’s operations
- Why an entity management system is critical for effective corporate governance and compliance
- What essentials should be a part of your technology evaluation
- The benefits of enhanced platform customization capabilities
- How to integrate seamlessly with CSC's registered agent, global subsidiary management and transaction services
Disclaimer: Please be advised that this recorded webinar has been edited from its original format, which may have included a product demo. To set up a live demo or to request more information, please complete the form to the right. Or if you are currently not on CSC Global, there is a link to the website in the description of this video. Thank you.
Annie: Hello, everyone, and welcome to today's webinar, "Top Considerations for Selecting Entity Management Software." My name is Annie Triboletti, and I will be your moderator.
Joining us today are David Jefferis and Andrea Jonaitis. David is a senior product manager for Compliance and Governance Services at CSC in the Wilmington, Delaware office. With CSC for over 14 years, he has significant experience providing training, implementation, and consultative services to clients of CSC entity management and consults with those evaluating CSC Matter Management solutions. Andrea is a senior sales engineer in the Corporate and Legal Solutions Group at CSC. Since joining CSC in 2017, Andrea has specialized in global subsidiary management and entity management, working with prospects to present an accurate and clear scope of services, including helping subsidiaries stay in compliance.
And with that, let's welcome David and Andrea.
Andrea: Good morning, Annie, and hi, everyone. Thanks for joining us.
David: Yeah, thank you so much. We're very excited to be here today. We're really appreciative of our audience taking time out of the busy schedule to be a part of today's webinar. We're really excited about the content that we have to share. We're excited to show you our platform and certainly take questions that come up throughout the course of the presentation. So we have an hour set aside. We do have a lot of concepts. So really, I think, without further ado, we want to kind of dive into our presentation.
So what everyone should hopefully definitely now be seeing through the web conference is the agenda for today's presentation. We're going to start by talking just a little bit about CSC as an organization. Certainly you found your way to our webinar, which is wonderful, but we don't want to assume that you are maybe intimately familiar with CSC as an organization. So we'll just hit that quickly.
We want to talk about what we're calling the current compliance landscape, sort of acknowledge the moment that we're in. I'll try not to use the word "unprecedented." But we want to sort of talk about the landscape that's impacting organizations that are managing entities, which is going to be certainly the focal point of our webinar today.
We'll talk about really what is entity management, just to make sure that we're sort of all on the same page with that terminology. We're going to talk about what drives organizations to evaluate software solutions in the entity management space.
And then really, what I'll describe as the meat of the demo, we'll get into what we are saying are the top five considerations for evaluating a system. Certainly, there are any number of things to consider. But we think these are maybe the most critical in an evaluation. And really, our presentation today is designed for organizations that might be looking to implement a technology solution around entity management for the first time, as well as folks that maybe have a system in place but are maybe sort of shopping around and considering making a change. So we really think that this content is applicable to sort of both of those types of audiences, so to speak.
And then my colleague, Andrea, will provide I'll call it a mini, abbreviated demo of our award-winning entity management platform, and then we'll look to take some Q&A at the very tail end of today's presentation. So that's really what we're about to get into.
So really, let's talk just for a moment a little bit about CSC as an organization. You're seeing some sort of stats here on the screen about some of the markets that we serve and the size of our customer base. But to provide a little more context, CSC is a privately held company. We have offices around the world. Our global headquarters happens to be in Wilmington, Delaware. We are able to trace our roots back to 1899. So we have a proud history of being an organization for over 120 years.
Our probably most well-known service is acting as a registered agent. We really can trace that back well over 100 years. That said, we have a broad sort of breadth and depth of services that we offer to organizations. We have compliance services around managing business licenses, international subsidiaries, electronically recording real estate documents, domain name services, intellectual property, global financial markets, some administration. I could really go on and on about sort of this menu of compliance services that CSC offers.
With all that said, our conversation today is going to largely focus around entity management and compliance and governance of subsidiaries. And so, sort of in that realm, you'll see there's kind of a stat here towards the bottom right that talks about the fact that over 90% of the Fortune 500 use CSC for one of the services that we offer. We're proud to say that as it relates to entity management software, that is a solution where over 20% of the Fortune 500 currently use our solution.
So we are perhaps best known as a registered agent, and we don't mind that reputation. But we've been in the entity software space for nearly 20 years and have a very compelling solution in that space. But we'll get to it in sort of due time. But again, just a little quick sort of snapshot about who we are as an organization.
What we'd now like to do is talk a little bit about the current kind of environment that folks find themselves in, in 2021, so the current compliance landscape. And so kind of the slide that you're seeing here, and there's a slide to follow, is really based on some analysis work that the fine people at Gartner did. They did a survey towards the tail end of last year, where they talked to about . . . I think it was a thousand legal practitioners to kind of get their sense for the things that are impacting them as an organization in terms of their legal compliance work. And you can see the stats, which we'll get into in just a moment.
But I think we need to step back and think about what were things like before 2020, before the pandemic. And what we routinely heard from organizations that we work with is that regulations are increasing, adding just complexity by the day. Legal departments, corporate legal departments were being tasked with sort of doing more with less, where, again, from a headcount standpoint, they were just being asked to take on more and more work with fewer resources. And then you sort of take that concoction, if you will, and then throw a pandemic on top of it, which required organizations to start working remotely, it really just sort of exacerbated some of the challenges that folks have.
And so, again, if you look at sort of the content on the right side of the slide, there's a survey, and essentially what are the top three things that are impacting your legal organization and your legal compliance work in 2020? And these happen to be sort of the top four things that came through.
Perhaps to no one's surprise, the biggest impact was working remotely and really what that means to you as an organization. Certainly, when we start getting a bit more into the value of implementing entity management software, we'll talk about the collaborative capabilities that it enables, and then conversely the challenges that you might have without technology in that space.
Another one of the responses, even though it's towards the bottom, it kind of jumps out to me in terms of an impact, is the acceleration in technology in corporate legal departments. And it really, in my mind, only makes sense. If you're sort of being tasked with more, you're trying to do more with less, so to speak, then automation and technology just have to be a part of that equation where you can improve your workflow, automate workflow, and sort of free yourself up to work on things that are more critical to the organization.
So with that said, there is one more sort of element of kind of the current environment. And again, this goes back to the Gartner survey, just sort of a different lens. If you're looking on the right-hand side here, they surveyed corporate legal departments to understand, from a percentage standpoint, your technology spend, whether that's entity management or enterprise legal management software, and again, like what percentage of your legal department spend is on technology. And what's really interesting here is that if you take a look at kind of what I call the last four years, that percentage grew 150%, although it's still a pretty small number. It's kind of around 4% of the legal department budget. The projection is that over the next four years, that's going grow 300% to equate to finally kind of a meaningful chunk of the legal budget.
So the expectation is that corporate legal departments as a whole are going to have a little more money to spend, so to speak. So you could find yourself in a situation where you have the budget to go shopping for technology to improve your processes, automate your processes, which I think dovetails nicely into the content that we want to cover today — if you are, in fact, evaluating entity management software, some of the things that are perhaps most critical to look at.
So with that, we want to talk about what is entity management, why do people evaluate the software just to make sure that we're all on the same page. And this is my opportunity to really bring Andrea into the conversation.
Andrea: Excellent. Thank you, David. We received a question from Brandon. I wanted to just take a quick moment to answer it. The question was relative to CSC's suite of services and whether those were available on the Resource widget. We have links to our website in the Resource widgets. We also can provide you with a document that can give you kind of CSC's full suite of services available to you. So we'll be sure to send that to you after our conference today. Please do continue to send any types of questions and interactions. David and I are monitoring the Q&A widget. So please continue to send those questions, and then, Brandon, thank you so much for that question.
So the first thing that we wanted to do relative to talking about entity management is to kind of set our definition. You likely already know what entity management is, but we wanted to state it briefly here because sometimes we use the same term to define various aspects of corporate compliance and portfolio management. So we wanted to just make sure everyone is on the same page in terms of the verbiage and what we're referring to when we say entity management.
Generally speaking, this concept of entity management is a multi-departmental discipline that involves the overall management of your entity portfolio and keeping your company in compliance with the various requirements, international, federal, state, local requirements. Sometimes a person might say entity management when they're referring to just a portion of your overall requirements. Things like the filing of annual reports, for example, we commonly say entity management. But, again, that's just one of the many different components that are required for keeping your entities and your portfolio in compliance.
Entity management is also inclusive of the management of your data, the storing of documents and records, handling your compliance communication, whether it's with partners or with the governing bodies that you're registered with. It's a collaboration for all of those items. And certainly, it's also reporting on all of your entities. Providing internal and external parties with secure access to your entity records or your documents will not only create transparency within your organization, it also will create efficiencies and increases your collaborative capabilities as you go through this process of entity management.
That takes us into what is entity management software. Entity management software is specialized software that is designed to make those components of your entity management process more streamlined and centralized. It serves as your main source of truth for, again, managing your entity data, tracking ownership records, and building or generating graphic or text-based org charts, tracking officer and director information. And we use this definition or this classification officer or director data a bit loosely as you might track other critical appointments, like your members, managers, partners, powers of attorney, or any other role or title. Things like the management of electronic minute books and documents, again, generating your reports, and also critically receiving alerts and reminders for the various events and deadlines that are necessary for, again, remaining in compliance and ensuring that all of your requirements are handled based on those states, local, county, international jurisdictional requirements.
So why to implement entity management software? As you likely already know, entity management software is important, especially now more than ever, given that changing landscape that David described. Regulatory complexity continues to grow. It can be tough to keep up with all of the changes that are constantly evolving. Entity management software can help your organization to avoid pitfalls and avoid unnecessary risks as you kind of move through these different filing requirements and regulations and different items that are imposed upon your business.
Entity management will provide that centralization and collaboration. It gives efficient access to your entity documents and your records. It also can ensure that, again, as you go through that entity management process, your software is always up to date, it's accurate, it's complete.
Advanced entity management solutions can provide more than just a repository for storage of data and documents. The best solutions will be highly configurable. They'll provide you with tracking and reporting specific to your organization's needs. They can provide you with workflow automation, streamlining your processes for filings, managing entity life cycle events, also enabling transparency throughout these various processes. Robust reporting and analytics can provide your organization with detailed point-in-time analysis, not just present-day kind of situation of your portfolio, but being able to report back in time to get those critical insights for making business decisions.
Many software solutions also provide integrations with other third-party solutions and allow you to seamlessly connect your two systems for really maximum efficiency among your various systems and processes.
When you're managing life cycle events for your entities, as you know, again, this is a very incredibly complicated and involved process, and the complexity of managing entities throughout their life cycle grows with the ongoing changes to regulatory complexities. There's a lot of aspects to this process and nuances along the way.
With formations, whether you're forming your own entities or even merging or acquiring new entities, there are a lot of considerations involved in the early stages of the entity life cycle. You need to appoint your registered agent, of course. You want to establish the proper licenses and really just setting a solid foundation for protecting your company against any types of risks.
Then we move into maintenance mode, handling the ongoing changes and day-to-day portfolio requirements. Things like your officer or director changes, re-elections, the need to generate board or shareholder resolutions, annual filings and requirements or other obligations, and also obtaining certificates of good standing to again show that maintenance or to keep those entities within good standing.
Moving on to expansion, expansion is critical for your business. You may need to qualify to do business in additional jurisdictions or even other countries taking your business globally. You might acquire entities or secure merger evidence. You might need to manage business licenses, understanding what licenses are required at the state and county level and making sure that you're adequately covered and not open to unnecessary risks. Even protecting your intellectual property. David referenced a bit of CSC's services, our ability to provide domain services, trademark management services. Those are all items that will come to light eventually throughout your life cycle management process for the entity life cycle.
At the end of your process, you've got the dissolution or dissolving of an entity or perhaps withdrawing, maybe divestitures.
These stages of entity life cycle are certainly not static. And you might find yourself kind of ebbing and flowing between all of these various different stages of an entity life cycle at any given time. It's very much a fluid situation. It's really imperative that you select a partner and an entity management software that can dynamically support your business and grow with your portfolio's needs in each and every stage of the entity life cycle, wherever you might be within that stage.
And then, what about international entities? So your entity management technology needs to extend not just across your U.S. portfolio but across your globe. The corporate secretarial requirements for entities outside of the United States are very different than what we're used to with the management of U.S.-based entities. Maintaining positive standing in these international jurisdictions is really not as straightforward as the U.S.-based requirements. It's not as simple as appointing a registered agent or filing annual reports throughout the year. There are many differences based on jurisdictional rules or entity types. And it has to be addressed and considered. And a good entity management software is going to be able to provide you with, again, that robust, centralized repository of data and information. And it makes meeting these different requirements from country to country easier to manage, easier to understand, giving you transparency with where in that process or the completion of those requirements you are.
Some countries might dictate rules about the location where your minute books are stored. Some might have registered office requirements in terms of who may serve in that capacity. There might be laws governing who may serve in local directorship roles or other legal representative positions.
Global jurisdictions also impose a much higher level of know-your-customer, KYC, due diligence requirements, and a variety of other constraints for people or organizations that want to do business globally. And we typically don't see that level of constraint or supervision, if you will, when you're governing U.S.-based entities.
Missing just one filing in any of these international jurisdictions can have really serious legal consequences for your business, not to mention much higher financial penalties than we commonly see when you're managing your U.S.-based portfolio. So, again, it's super critical to ensure that your technology provides you with that flexibility and that dynamic capability of growing with your business and helping you to stay covered, not just across the United States but all across the globe here.
David: Wonderful. So with that, we're going to kind of segue into the next part, what I refer to as the meat of the presentation are our top five considerations for entity management software.
And so this one is sort of near and dear to my heart, which we're describing as automation. And so, really, sort of the best way to describe this, I suppose, is the ability of either software or, in some cases, maybe by partnering with a service company you're able to just get rid of things that are a manual process, whether it's manual data entry or just having to do things that are kind of mundane and routine. And so one of the big trends that we've seen over the past couple of years is really what I would describe as the rise of legal operations as kind of a movement and as a function of the legal department, where I think one of the stated sort of tenets of that movement is that, again, these legal practitioners should be freed up to work on things that are strategic and need to find ways to avoid doing some of those kind of manual, routine things that could potentially be outsourced or automated. So I think we expect that trend to continue more and more over time.
So I guess then as a question, what is CSC's approach to automation in the context of our entity management software? And there's really a host of examples.
The first one is something that we really can't stress enough, which is that our technology software, which Andrea will show you in just a little bit, it is not a standalone piece of software. Instead, it is completely integrated, completely interwoven with what we do as a service organization. So if you are engaging CSC to act as your registered agent here in the U.S., if you're engaging us for filings, whether it's annual report filings or just sort of general transactional work, things like formations and qualifications and name changes, etc., or if you're also engaging CSC to provide compliance support, so to speak, for your entities globally, corporate secretarial services, then when we have those sort of relationships, the data and documents that result automatically flow into the system.
So, as an example, you have CSC form an entity on your behalf anywhere around the world. Not only would that entity appear in our technology, its name, and the country where it's formed, and the entity type, and the date of formation, and the status as examples of some of the data that flows in, the supporting documents would flow in as well, in this example, the formation document. And, again, that's sort of a simple example. But think of any sort of life cycle event for an entity — merger, dissolution, etc. — the results, the data changes, the documents automatically flow into our solution.
Also, we understand that a key sort of principle, so to speak, of entity management is keeping your entities in compliance. And so we have automation in our technology that lets you know specifically when there are events, like annual filings that are coming due, primarily at the secretary of state level, but in some other jurisdictions as well in different countries.
The events not only built dynamically, but you can receive proactive alerts so that you are, again, very much in the know in terms of when you've got annual compliance filings that are coming due.
We also have a feature that we call corporate tracker that routinely, in an automated fashion, pulls in current statuses from the secretaries of state and then alerts you should that status ever change. So let's say, as an example, you have a registration where an annual filing may have been missed or something fell through the cracks, and, as a consequence, that status went from something positive to something negative, like delinquent, or dormant, or cease good standing standing. It's not something that you'll have to sort of stumble upon at some point when maybe you're trying to perform a transaction and it kind of gets in the way. Instead, the moment that sort of a change occurs, that changes the role in the system and you can be alerted via email about that as well.
Another example of automation is the fact that when organizations are using our document management capabilities, when you upload PDF documents, our system automatically adds a searchable text layer to those documents, what's known as optical character recognition, so that users that have the appropriate authority to view documents in the system can plug in a name, a word, or a phrase, any contents, any of the text that might exist in that document and find it very quickly. And that's a search that you can perform across a single subsidiary or across all of your subsidiaries, so, again, automatically rendering your PDF documents searchable in the technology.
Andrea is going to do a brief demo, and, time permitting, she'll show an example of an org chart. But in our solution, when you're tracking your ownership data, defining which companies own each other, the system automatically allows you to render that into text-based and graphical org charts to get visualization around your ownership structures.
And then, last but not least, also very near and dear to my heart is that we have integration capabilities. So you'll see the little term there, API, which stands for application program interface. Effectively, this is a technology where an organization would say, "I've got all this great entity data, all these great entity documents in your technology. But I might want to feed some of that data or feed some of those documents into another solution," whether it's a tax system or a document management system. And so we absolutely have capabilities that can facilitate the automated feed of data and documents from our platform into, again, third-party solutions that are part of your enterprise.
So the next piece that I'll talk about, and then Andrea will take us through some of our additional considerations, are what we're calling regular enhancements. And so technology evolves so quickly, the regulatory landscape changes so rapidly as well, that what is sort of good enough today isn't going to be good enough a year from now or two years from now. And so we think that one of the critical considerations as you evaluate these platforms is tell me about your roadmap, what have you done in the last 12 to 24 months, what's on the horizon for the next 12 to 24 months, to get a sense of the vendor's commitment to that software. Is it a situation where you feel comfortable that upgrades are sort of continual and there's not just sort of a sporadic interest in developing the solution from a vendor but a continual investment and interest? And then also do I get access to those upgrades, or am I somehow maybe not able to leverage them? We'll get into that a little bit when we talk about some of the other considerations.
But, again, I think a key consideration is understanding kind of where does the software come from and where is it going to make sure that as you grow and evolve that the technology is not going to be static and stale and outdated, but again, it's going to evolve with you as well.
So last but not least, in terms of our discussion about sort of the roadmap and regular enhancements, we're really excited that we have a number of exciting upgrades that are currently in the works, starting with Org Charts 2.0.
So we have what I would describe as a very powerful org charting capability today. But Org Charts 2.0 will introduce a number of really meaningful enhancements to that experience. So for those that aren't maybe familiar with how org charts are built in our system today, I'll do my best to kind of quickly describe it conceptually.
You're able to define which company you want to run an org chart for, which could be "show me everything" or "I want to focus maybe more specifically on a particular branch." You're able to define how many level up and down you want the chart to go in each direction. You can pick attributes to include certain fields in the boxes, so show me where this entity is formed or the entity type as examples. You also can design what we describe as formatting rules. So for example, if it's a LLC, I want it to be a blue triangle. If it's a company in the Asia Pacific region, I want it to be red, as an example. So there's sort of all these configurable elements of the org chart. And then when you've gone through those steps in the workflow, you sort of click to generate, and then you get the org chart that's visible.
But Org Charts 2.0 is going to change that experience considerably. One of the things that it will introduce is what we call a live preview. So as you're actually going through the steps of generating the org chart, picking the companies and the levels and the fields and the formatting rules, the org chart will actually be rendering on the screen live, in real time so that you can see kind of the fruits of your labor as you go, and then you can more quickly make adjustments as needed.
Also, Org Charts 2.0 will introduce a capability that we've dubbed shortfolio. So one of the things that we've heard consistently from our client base, especially those that have larger org charts that in some cases have dozens, or in some cases hundreds and hundreds of entities, is that large org charts are a bear. And so shortfolio is going to introduce a number of things, including what we're calling sub-charts. So if you were to run an org chart, and again, let's say that it's a rather large org chart, you'll be able to actually click on a company and say, "You know what, let's take this part of the chart and let's move it into its own unique page," and we call that a sub-chart. And so on what I'll call the main chart, where you started, there'd be a breadcrumb to say "Continued on page two." And again, it doesn't have to say page two. It could be something that you label, "Continued on my North America sub-chart" or "Continued on my Asia Pacific sub-chart." So you'll be able to purposely break the org chart into smaller chunks. And then the shortfolio feature will actually combine them all together in a single PDF document.
The shortfolio feature will also introduce what we're calling on-screen manipulation. So when you click generate org chart and it renders the boxes in certain positions, if you're not in love with the way things are laid out on the screen, you'll be able to click on the . . . we call them nodes. It could be a box or a triangle or a circle, what have you, and you'll be able to kind of drag it around and reposition it where you'd want to see that object on the screen. And when you do that, the text will go with the object. The connector lines will go with the object as well. So we're really excited about giving our customers more hands-on capabilities to manipulate the look and feel of the charts in the system.
Last but not the least, a few more things, we'll have the ability to do filtering based on ownership percentages. We'll be able to start doing formatting on the connector lines, to try and modify how these look physically, and then we'll also have support for footnotes and also what we're calling an org chart legend. So, for example, if you do make those LLCs a blue triangle, if you do make those APAC companies red, you'll be able to have a little sort of map, so to speak, on the bottom that says blue triangle equals LLC, red square equals Asia Pacific entities so that other consumers of the org chart will be able to quickly understand the formatting rules and effectively what they pertain to.
So I know that's a lot. But we're incredibly excited about the new capabilities with this feature. And we're anticipating sort of probably a late May launch for this capability. That's sort of unofficial, subject to change. But as things are sort of progressing, we're looking at potentially the end of May for that enhancement.
Moving on, electronic signature integration, we are actively working with DocuSign, as we speak, to enable an integration where our clients will be able to, within our entity management technology, take documents that are in need of signatures and be able to electronically route those to the appropriate signer so that they can electronically sign those documents. And then we also intend to have a routing capability, where you'd be able to say, "When this document has all the necessary signatures, we want to move it into a particular minute book folder as sort of the resting place, so to speak, of that completed document."
Also, what we're calling officer and director appointment custom fields. So one of the things that we've heard, again consistently from a lot of our customers, is that in the officer and director section . . . and again, that's sort of shorthand as Andrea noted earlier. That could be members, managers, partners, powers of attorney, any sort of capacity that you want to track for an organization. There's often a need to be able to track more than just the person's title and the dates and the entity that they're associated with, but things like a type, limit, level of authority. Some folks call them delegation statements, which can be lengthy statements. And there's some ability to do that today. But we're going to make it much more efficient, much more streamlined by allowing organizations to create custom fields that are at what we're describing as the appointment level. So it's a custom piece of information that's specific, not just to the person, but to the entity and the title that is associated with that individual's record to give you just more flexibility in sort of defining information about that "appointment" for the director or officer.
So, as you can probably gather, I get quite excited about the roadmap. So I'm excited to share some of those capabilities with you. With that, just to keep things moving along, Andrea is going to take us through some of the additional top five considerations.
Andrea: David, it's definitely something to be excited about. CSC has made incredible strides and continues to make strides with our technology. And it's very exciting. And your technology providers should be making those enhancements and certainly not charging you for those as well.
But it does move us into security. And we did get a question actually from Shirley. Shirley, your question is very timely. Shirley's question was, "Can you set certain users to have read-and-write access to certain entities and read-only to others?" You absolutely can. And that ties directly into this next topic of security.
So from a security perspective, security starts with your registered agent. And security, of course, is paramount to your whole operation. It is absolutely critical that your registered agent does not subcontract important services process matters to non-employees. Some registered agents in the marketplace actually will offshore or outsource this functionality to non-employees. And this not only negatively impacts the delivery of your legal notices and your ability to respond to them in a timely manner, it has a great security implication with respect to your data, your confidentiality, your privacy. Your registered agent should meet the same security requirements as your entity management software, and your software should provide you with flexibility and options around these role-based permissions, user-access levels, administrative controls and transparencies.
Shirley, within our technology, we absolutely provide the ability for you to mix and match edit capabilities, read capabilities, write capabilities. You can hide entities or sections of data from users as necessary. It really provides you with a lot of flexibility to mix and match those different permissions that you would like at the user level.
All entity management software should undergo a rigorous security organization control audit. It's commonly referred to as a SOC audit. A SOC audit will provide detailed information and assurance about the service organization's security, availability, their processing integrity, confidentiality, privacy, all based upon this international standard of how to manage information security. And your partners should be able to produce evidence not only of their annual SOC certification, but their business continuity and disaster recovery procedures and processes. And David is actually going to share a little bit about that in just a second.
In terms of what security CSC provides, all CSC applications and data are maintained on CSC dedicated servers that are located in the United States. These are ISO 27001-certified and SOC 2 Type 2 certified annually. Our applications, our organization, and our employees are tested annually on a regular basis, and we maintain the highest levels of security credentials.
CSC also has a detailed business continuity and disaster recovery process. While we've never had to implement this process, our detailed process has been carefully planned, evaluated, and re-evaluated regularly to you ensure the highest standards built upon a foundation of transparency and communication with our customers and other stakeholders in the event of an issue.
In addition to our annual SOC certification, we conduct regular penetration tests. This is sometimes referred to as ethical hacking. We're constantly evaluating our security measures, our firewalls, encryptions, and other protections against potential hacking attempts.
All CSC applications include robust and flexible user access levels with role-based permissions, folder level securities, and dynamic entity preferences.
David, let's talk a little bit about kind of the current landscape. You told us a little bit about the current landscape and how things have evolved. Let's talk about CSC and our continuity plan relative to the COVID situation.
David: Sure. Andrea, I appreciate that opportunity. So we talk quite a bit about security, which in my mind is in its simplest form is all about making sure that our customer data remains safe and secure and out of the hands of malicious third parties. And that's incredibly important. But I would say of equal importance is that our services and technology remain available to our customers as well. If the systems are down, what good is it at the end of the day?
So we have done tremendous work, thankfully, in advance of the pandemic to make sure that we have a very solid business continuity plan, which certainly was tested. And so, as our CEO likes to say, adversity doesn't necessarily build character as much as it reveals character. And so we're really proud as an organization that we can say that even in the midst of all of the craziness last year, where how things were sort of sideways, that we really didn't miss a beat. And we went to great lengths to make sure that we could still fulfill what I would describe as our obligations to our customers, to continue to deliver our services to our customers in terms of the technology platforms that we're covering today, as well as just sort of the basics of receiving service of process and delivering compliance notices to our customers. And so really proud of that.
And also, we've done a great job, I would say, of making resources available to our customers as well. We have a COVID sort of resource dashboard that's available on our CSC Global website because, obviously, there's been a lot of state closures and delays. And so we've really focused quite a bit on making sure that our customers have access to the most up-to-date information in terms of where things are at the individual secretary of state level. So it's, in my mind again, of equal importance as to the security piece.
Andrea: Absolutely. The last topic, or the next topic I should say, since this is topic number four is configurability. Configurability is another key consideration when you're selecting an entity management software. Configurability, it gives organizations and users the opportunity to adjust the software based on your specific needs.
There really is no one-size-fits-all solution when it comes to selecting or implementing an entity management software. While the functionalities that are generally required in your software may be more or less the same, regardless of your organization's size, your location, your industry, or marketplace, or the other demographics between organizations, in fact, you might even have users within the same organization that need to track different data elements, maybe even different departments. So you really can't apply one kind of static solution, which doesn't provide that configurability, because you're going to need to track and manage data or documents differently from one another, whether it's different among your organization or even inside of your group.
As David also said, it's highly probable that as your portfolio grows and evolves, the data that you need to track and report upon today will be different than the data that you need to track and report upon in the future. So a configurable entity management software gives you that flexibility that you need to really design and constantly redesign the software specific for your group.
When you're evaluating your vendors and your solutions, look for the ability to create custom fields in an unlimited fashion. Some providers will actually charge additional fees based on the volume of fields, or they might require vendor intervention in order to modify those fields or set up those customizations. You want to have unlimited fields, no fees for those extra customizations, and really no dependencies on your vendor to make those changes. You want that control yourself. Ask your vendor if you can define unique page layouts, or per entity specific details, layouts based on those different needs, or your ability to set up custom folder structures and naming conventions to give your different users or groups the flexibility to manage documents any way you see fit.
Be sure also to understand the report mechanisms, not just the pre-built reports that come with your solution, but also your ability to design or save your own reports based on any of the data elements that you're tracking or storing within your solution.
And again, be sure to configure the user access or that you actually can define that user access so that you can pick and choose exactly what each user can or cannot do within the system.
Regarding CSC's stance on configuration, our entity management tool is highly configurable, both from an overall database design, as well as user specific perspectives. Each user can customize every grid display based on his or her personal preferences or departmental focuses without interrupting the view of any other user. There's no limit to the number of custom fields that can be created. There's no fees based on these fields, and you have the power and control, of course, to modify those yourself. Custom layouts, as David touched on, allow organizations to define unique summary pages, either singularly or through some shared characteristic that might apply to multiple entities in your portfolio.
We make things easy for you by defining our most popular values in data fields. We also provide you with the flexibility of defining your own additions to the list values that we've started for you. So, for example, relative to officer or director tracking, we've got a list of pre-built, most commonly used roles or titles, but you have an unlimited capability of defining or adding your own roles and titles.
We offer custom document folders and minute book templates so that you can organize and store an unlimited number of documents and files. Using the ad hoc reporting modules, clients can design unlimited reports based on any data, whether it's standard fields or custom fields that you build within the system. And you can save and continue to re-use those reports rather than having to recreate those reports every time you need them.
Also, administrators can easily configure user roles and permissions at a granular level. Data is managed very modularly. So you can assign different capabilities for officer or director functions, versus documents, versus core vitals and information, and so on and so forth. So, again, you can mix and match those capabilities, read-only access, edit capabilities, or perhaps no visibility to certain functionalities or entities whatsoever.
That takes us into our last consideration, which is cost. David, back to you.
David: Thank you, Andrea. So this slide is all about, "This is all great, but what does it cost?" So if you don't have an unlimited budget, which most people do not, this certainly becomes a major part of your evaluation.
So a couple of things to really think through in this evaluation. So what is the structure? In other words, what are the fees based on for the subscription or access to the entity management provider software? Am I paying for users. Does the number of users I have somehow influence the fee in any fashion? Am I limited as far as how much training I can receive? Are there restrictions or caps on the amount of data and documents? If I go beyond it, do I start to incur additional costs? What if my entity volume starts to grow? So as we're forming and acquiring, what does that mean to potentially an annual subscription with the software provider? Am I getting all of your features, or am I locked into a smaller group of features? Am I paying more if I want certain features? What does that look like? And then as upgrades occur, am I automatically getting them, or maybe based on some sort of a package that I'm a part of, am I being restricted from having access to all the latest and greatest capabilities in the system without forking out additional fees to the vendor? So these are all, again, questions that you ought to have and should really think through.
In terms of how we approach this, I think it's best described as kind of an all-you-can-eat model. And so, fundamentally, the number of entities that an organization wants to manage within our software becomes a critical driver for what we feel is a fair annual fee. That said, once you go from there, you can see the inclusions here. So we're talking about that annual subscription giving you all system features. You're automatically getting all the upgrades. We're not putting any sort of limitations or financial penalties on the number of users that you might permission into the system. No caps on data and documents. No limitations on the amount of web-based training you can receive.
We do provide, at no fee, the ability to set up what's called single sign-on, which is just a different way to authenticate users into the technology. Instead of usernames and passwords, they can click on a secure link that you would host and have that be the mechanism by which they're able to log into the technology in a secure fashion.
And then also, I mentioned briefly the ability to take information and documents from a platform and feed them into third-party solutions. That's not a capability that we charge an additional fee for.
So we try to make this very simple for folks that are evaluating our system so that you can really understand what is the total cost of ownership if I subscribe to your technology.