Among other responsibilities, Bell Canada’s regulatory affairs department must file almost every day with the Canadian Radio Television Commission (CRTC). Documents that must be filed are Applications, Responses to interrogatories, comments, etc. Compiling all these documents within the collaborating groups was a big task. “We have to make sure we have the latest version. Email is not the best way to share documents in need of editing. With several people collaborating, we never knew which was the latest version,” explains Sonia Diaz-Sotomayor, Associate Director for Regulatory Affairs Information Services at Bell Canada. Less electronic means complicated other regulation efforts as well, especially when executives attended important meetings or hearings. “We were going with stacks of binders and boxes of paper,” Diaz notes. The outdated methods could complicate storage for later retrieval and create hassles during travel to and from hearings.
Bell Canada’s legal department experienced similar frustrations: attending hearings with boxes in tow, emailing multiple files, and trying other file sharing solutions. Like its counterparts in the regulatory affairs department, Bell Canada legal professionals placed security as its top priority for the exchange of documents which—like any corporate office— range from “generic to supersensitive,” as described by Alex Valcelli, IT manager within the IS/IT group for Bell Canada’s legal department. “Day-to-day usage contains mostly general, low-sensitivity information that we need to share with other legal firms,” he notes. “When there is litigation, we need to exchange confidential information that pertains to the case.”
In either circumstance—public or confidential information—there is a lot of it. The legal team used to email material, but the files grew beyond email capacity. “We went through a transition with assistants zipping and splitting all these files, but it was an absolute mess,” Valcelli recalls. “There was no control. There was no audit trail: Did they receive it, could they open it? There was no way of knowing.”
The legal and regulatory affairs departments tried other methods. FTP file access was secure, but slow and confusing for users. Web-based file hosting services lacked security. The legal group also placed large amounts of data on secure hard drives and shipped them to contacts. “But, it cost us a fortune,” Valcelli says. “We often paid high fees to ship one secure drive. It was insane.”
Bell Canada initially accepted the costs as “the price you pay” for security; however, the regulatory affairs and legal departments were ready to find a more convenient, affordable way to exchange sensitive files.