Data Security and storage are crucial components for every company. Be it the big tech giants or small and medium-scale enterprises, when it comes to data, the primary concern is its storage and security. One of the most convenient and efficient methods to store and secure data online is on the cloud. The innovation offers many benefits including accessibility, usability, and most importantly, a sense of relief for every company.
Elaborating on one such company which offers best-in-class cloud-based services, is SmartVault. Founded in 2008, SmartVault is the easiest and most secure way to optimize how business owners, staff, and clients gather, store, share, and eSign documents in the cloud — through one integrated document management and client portal solution. Today, it has earned its spot with millions of users worldwide.
The company started its journey with the idea to move document-related workflows into the cloud, but it soon shifted gears and become a full-fledged flexible, secure, and easy-to-use platform that allows businesses to reduce costs, boost productivity, improve staff well-being, and deliver higher levels of service to customers.
An Overview of SmartVault Features and Benefits
SmartVault provides a document management system and client portal solution that streamlines how businesses work and collaborate with its clients.
Simplify how your business works with documents:
- Centralize files and streamline workflows on a highly secure platform
- Access documents anytime, anywhere, and with ease
- Make it much easier to collaborate with clients and colleagues
Enable file storage, secure file sharing, and streamlined collaboration:
- Access folders, files, and functionality from a web browser
- Integrate the accounting and business productivity apps that the business counts on
- Streamline collaboration and improve document workflows
Make it easier for customers to do business with you:
- Offer free and password-protected guest logins for secure file exchange
- Give clients 24/7 access to upload and download files anytime, anywhere
- Customize a portal with the company’s logo and color schemes
Promote secure document sharing and collaboration:
- Protect documents in transit and at rest with bank-level data encryption
- Utilize password-protected links for secure file upload and download
- Control advanced user permissions for only authorized users to have access
See how simple it is to request and receive signatures from clients:
- Streamline multiparty collaboration while moving the business forward at speed
- Allow clients to sign forms and contracts from their desktops, laptops, or mobile devices
- Send documents for eSignature and receive signed documents back in the same folder
Simplify the way businesses request, gather, and track documents:
- Send each client a list of which documents the business needs, with guidance on how to share them
- Create customizable request list templates that can be bulk sent from a central dashboard
- Gain full visibility into submission statuses and manage all requested documents in one place
Drive efficiency through automated document workflows:
- Make it simple to scan, drag and drop, or upload files from any desktop or mobile device
- Simplify information collection through smart document request lists
- Batch print, distribute documents in bulk, and route files to the right folder automatically
Hurdles in the Race
Cloud services are not something new in the market; most companies are aware of them. While many organizations are integrating cloud-based services, others are either hesitant or indolent to use them.
Some of the challenges SmartVault faced included finding the right fit within its target market. It conducted thorough market research to identify its ideal customers and understand their specific needs.
The company also recognized that it is part of a fast-paced and highly competitive market, as many other document management and client portal solutions are available to its target market.
While its competitors have built complex and complicated solutions, SmartVault stands out because its target audience appreciates how simple and intuitive its product is to use, and that its solution solves many of their workflow challenges.
Recognizing Real-Time Problems, Rising with Potential Solutions
SmartVault solves many challenges that accounting, tax, and financial service providers commonly face when working internally with staff and externally with clients. The company developed SmartVault to address its most pressing needs, and it continues to adapt its products and services to stay valuable to these core customers.
SmartVault’s customers within the accounting, tax, and financial services industries – and throughout other industries like healthcare – are also highly-regulated; they must have strict data security measures in place to protect their business and clients’ data from misuse.
SmartVault’s document management and client portal is a reliable solution to many of their challenges; its product saves them time and money while simplifying their document-related workflows and helping them comply with industry regulations for data security.
Currently, over 30,000 business professionals count on SmartVault for their document storage, management, and secure sharing needs. Over two million people have used SmartVault as a secure file-sharing software provider to share, exchange, or collaborate on documents together. Over 400 million documents have been stored, collaborated on, and shared in SmartVault. These whopping numbers are a representation of SmartVault’s best-in-class offerings and hard work.
Customer-Centric to the Core
SmartVault continues enhancing its product to align with its customer’s needs as the market evolves, their needs change and new competitors emerge.
The company takes the initiative to speak to its customers and ask them for feedback on new features and its services, including running beta programs that allow customers to test new features and have a direct impact on future product enhancements. It prioritizes truly understanding how its customers work.
Understanding the customer helps SmartVault continue to innovate its product in a way that’ll help them be successful in their businesses. It also has strong partnerships with other industry-leading software providers, like Intuit, Microsoft, and DocuSign. These partnerships allow them to integrate directly with other software applications its customers rely on.
SmartVault also has a strong reputation among its target audience. Customers who recognize that they need SmartVault to create positive client and employee experiences, streamlined workflows, and increased profitability quickly refer SmartVault to their networks.
Raising the Bar to Set Benchmarks
SmartVault is a team driven by its customers’ success. SmartVault was founded to be easy to implement and use for businesses, their clients, and their staff. It provides several getting-started guides and on-demand training to optimize its customers’ experiences.
It also provides services like onboarding. A dedicated Customer Onboarding Manager creates a customized plan based on the organization’s unique set of needs. It partners with its customers to help ensure they have the proper workflow, connected applications, and confidence to roll out SmartVault across their organization and their clients.
Many of SmartVault’s new customers have tried some form of document management that hasn’t quite met all of their needs. It provides a SmartVault expert to work with these customers and migrate their files over to SmartVault. It also provides individual and team training and a knowledge library of video tutorials and step-by-step guides.
Introducing the New Feature- Certified Vault
To meet its target industry’s evolving needs, SmartVault has developed Certified Vault. This new feature allows businesses to create, store, and manage authoritative copies of their digital assets in compliance with UCC 9-105. An authoritative copy is the digital record of an original and unique document that evidences a monetary obligation and a security interest in specific goods. Being an authoritative copy means the document has not been altered since it was signed and vaulted.
SmartVault’s CertifiedVault is critical for industries like finance, real estate, leasing, security, and more which need to process electronically signed contracts, generate authoritative copies, and store them in a place that’s compliant with laws and regulations.
A Record of the Leader’s Journey
An instrumental leader, Dania Buchanan is the President at SmartVault. She pursued her graduation in BA Marketing from Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi. She has a successful track record of working in the technology sector, holding leadership positions in small and venture-back startups and large public companies.
Dania started her journey in 1999 when she became the Vice President of Marketing at NetIQ, where she led a marketing team responsible for global brand development, corporate communication, and demand generation strategies for systems, security, and analytics solutions. She was part of the executive team that led several large-scale mergers & acquisitions.
In 2006, she was part of a four-person founding team that launched ChatYat, Inc. (Yat), a free mobile instant messaging service with the ease of use of SMS, but with features that let users instantly chat with friends. At its peak, Yat had users in more than 60 countries. In her role as President/CEO, Dania led the business development, marketing, pricing, and strategic partnership strategy. Under her leadership, the company successfully raised a Series A round of funding and launched the product in the South African and UK markets, where a strong ambassador and referral program drove the primary adoption.
In 2008, Dania joined SmartVault as Head of Marketing. She was one of the founding members and led the development of the company’s brand and go-to-market strategies. Due to her principled work ethic and top-notch performance, she was promoted to Chief Marketing Officer at SmartVault in 2013 before being promoted to President in 2020. She’s responsible for setting strategies and aligning business operations to achieve sustainable business growth. Dania’s goals are to create a culture where employees can do their best work and products, and where customers can find success and long-term value.
Defining a Culture of Liberty and Eccentricity
Dania aims to create a company culture where everyone is supported and can thrive. SmartVault values a culture of no egos, where its team shows up for each other meaningfully and authentically. The company’s leadership encourages teams to experiment with new ways to solve problems and continue life-long learning.
The company celebrates ideas and new ways of thinking and is not afraid to pivot. The team is unique because it shows up each day with the same shared passion and purpose – it’s not just something for saying, but something it embodies in the work it does and the conversations it has with its customers.
Decoding the Transitions of Entrepreneurship and Leadership
From Dania’s experience, the three most important things a startup Founder/CEO needs to do are:
- manage cash flow
- build a product that users love
- build a company that maximizes the opportunity that your product has created
Dania is currently leading SmartVault, which is entering its 15th year! With over a decade of experience and accomplishments, she credits SmartVault’s success to building a great product for a specific market. When a company can deeply understand its potential buyer’s needs, one can line up its whole journey behind that. It becomes the north star that rallies its entire team behind its customers’ success with its product or service.
As a leader, Dania believes it’s important to communicate your why with passion and purpose. Many times, business leaders focus on what they want to achieve, but in her opinion, the foundation for a clear strategic vision focuses on the why – get that right. “And your team and your investors will have a better understanding of what guides you and ultimately your decisions,” concludes Dania.
Achievements, Learnings, and Transformations
In a career spanning three decades, Dania has been fortunate to be a part of some pretty seismic movements that shaped the way we learn about, try, and acquire technology. Many people in tech will likely find these relatable, and one of her greatest achievements as a leader has been to embrace these shifts as a continuation of her learning journey. The two paradigm shifts that she has felt have had major impacts on business strategy:
The early 2000s – the launch of Windows 2000 and the massive rise of consumer software, education software, and productivity software. Everyone looked at the personal computer channels as a route to market for software. She started her career at a build-to-order personal computer company in Austin, TX, and it was all trial by fire.
You didn’t know what you didn’t know, everything was new, and advertising started to shift from offline to online channels with disruptors like Broadcast.com and Doubleclick. This was the early days before Google Adwords took over! It was extremely formative to be part of the changes in marketing strategies during this time when adaptability was key to success.
The early 2010s – the Software-as-a-Service business model for SMB customers. When SmartVault started back in 2008, subscription services for SMBs were rare. Remember, this was less than a year after the 1st generation iPhone launched, and Netflix was just out of the gate with their streaming service. You had subscription models for enterprises with leaders like Salesforce and NetSuite, and you had free (at the time) apps like Dropbox at the consumer level.
But subscription models for the low end of the B-to-B market were incredibly rare. And it has been incredibly rewarding and has been one of Dania’s greatest achievements – her life’s work – to have created a success story with this business. She has been incredibly grateful to have worked with some exceptionally smart, capable people who demonstrated real grit along this journey.
The Treasures of Dania’s Life
Over the years, books have deeply impacted Dania in her personal and professional life. Her favorites are dependent on what stage of life she’s in, these are a few standouts:
- Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell. A fascinating study of high achievers..
- Daring Greatly by Brene’ Brown. Her study of vulnerability and its relationship to courage deeply impacted Dania as a young leader.
- Atomic Habits by James Clear. Such an actionable read about how small changes can have a big impact.
- Together is Better by Simon Sinek. Dania found the messages and illustrations in this little book incredibly powerful as a reminder that we need each other to succeed and be truly fulfilled. She also gave this book as a holiday gift to her leadership team last year.
If there is one person Dania admires the most in her life it’s none other than her mother. She is a survivor. Dania’s father served as a Navy pilot during the Vietnam War and was shot down over the sea. He was missing-in-action (MIA) for over five years. When the war ended, his status was changed to KIA or killed-in-action. The crew was never found. She spent five years raising two children not knowing if her husband was dead or alive, and unable to get answers from the government. It takes amazing strength and resiliency to survive and thrive in those circumstances, and she did it with both toughness and grace. .
Customers are Crucial and Comprehensive
Dania’a favorite quote is, “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” – Maya Angelou
Truly inspired by this quote and leading by example, Dania puts her customers at the heart of the business, guiding all levels of decision-making. She is highly inspired by SmartVault’s every customer. The customers are largely professional accountants and bookkeepers whose tax preparation, payroll, audit, and bookkeeping services support small-to-medium sized businesses.
They have done the hard work of developing deep competencies in accounting, but as business owners themselves, they must also acquire and onboard new customers, manage growth and retention, and hire and retain staff – which for their profession is getting increasingly difficult. Now, they are required to adopt more tech-first workflows to support data security and operational efficiency requirements. And most don’t have IT staff to support them. In Dania’s opinion, they are the real heroes.
She adds, “Customers are smart and busy. Be honest and communicate in all your engagements, and you’ll demonstrate respect for them and their time. If they expect a new feature and it’s delayed, tell them why and give them an adjusted date. If it’s costing them money, give them a reasonable concession. If you raise the price they pay you for your product or service, don’t veil the communication in nuance. Tell them why and give them plenty of notice so they can make an informed decision.”
Dania’s View on Constant Vigilance
As a leader, it’s your job to drive results. To do this, you must be aware of threats and risks that can impact your business. In a vigilant organization, the leaders have aligned priorities, and they have a system in place to drive accountability across the organization. Teams have clarity around the goals and what defines success and work together on the initiatives that create the most opportunity for the business..
Dania concludes, “In our growth journey at SmartVault, we’ve adopted the Entrepreneurial Operating System (EOS) framework, and it’s helped us get better at building our short- and long-term goals, communicating better with each other and our teams, and building a culture where accountability to results are waterfalled throughout the organization. It’s helped us mature the organization as we enter the next phase of growth.”