Virtual data rooms, or VDRs, have become an integral tool for successful M&A transactions.
VDRs provide M&A professionals with a solution for sharing large amounts of sensitive documents, easing the burden of having to collect and disclose confidential information during the due diligence process. VDRs also modernize and streamline document management for complex, information-heavy M&A deals.
The market for VDRs is increasing steadily as the need for simple, secure and efficient data storage and sharing grows. But, how much should a VDR cost? Depending on the project and vendor, VDRs can be astronomically expensive.
Most VDR vendors still rely on per-page pricing, a pricing structure held over from the day when providers must be onsite to make copies of physical documents. Depending on transaction value and size, per-page pricing can cost anywhere between $20,000 to $40,000. We have also all heard to stories of invoices well over $100,000, due to overage charges and extended timelines.
M&A professionals, as well as their clients, have learned to swallow large invoices from data room providers. However, VDR technology is advancing, and it’s time their pricing does as well.
As VDR technology continues to advance, their pricing structures must as well.
Ultimately, a project’s value, size and duration will determine VDR price. What average VDR cost structures should M&A professionals expect? What functionality should a VDR have? And, as the VDR market continues to grow, what should VDR invoices truly look like?
Virtual data room pricing structures vary by vendor. Generally, VDR cost is structure by one or a few of the following:
Many providers rely on the per-page pricing model. Depending on the scope of the project, these providers will typically charge between $0.40 and $0.85 per page. This pricing structure may be attractive for small projects with a clear or set number of documents. However, for larger projects, this model can lead to large invoices and overage fees.
Some VDRs will provide a set number of user licenses and will charge extra for each additional user. The number of users provided and the price for overages vary widely by vendor. Typically, data rooms will charge between $100 and $250 per administrative user. Before choosing a data room provider, it is important to check how many users the room will allow without charging extra.
Data room storage size is another way some VDR providers determine cost. Certain VDR providers set a cost structure based on the number of gigabytes (GB) the room uses. Other providers may allow of a certain number of GBs, or provide a range, and charge for overages if the need arises. Overages can cost as much as $75 per GB. This may be a good pricing option for projects with relatively small text file sizes.
Other VDR providers simply charge flat monthly fees. These plans typically allow for unlimited data, pages and users and cost between $500 and $1000 a month. Many projects can be unpredictable is size, scope and duration. VDR providers that charge flat monthly fees enable teams to save money and avoid large overage fees, that way they can focus on what’s best for their project.
Flat monthly fee pricing models are ideal for extensive projects with unknown or extended timelines. Use this virtual data room cost calculator to determine if you’re paying too much.
When comparing data room providers, cost is an extremely important factor. Cost between providers can fluctuate extremely and can leave you wondering what the difference is between them. The difference may just be a more equitable pricing structure.
As prices evolve, teams should compare the following features to make sure they are getting the best deal possible:
Virtual data rooms must be secure as security is a data room’s main purpose of being. Security may be the most important function to compare when choosing a data room. It is essential to look for encryption level, watermark capability, authentication technology, and ability for document recovery.
Data management capability is the second key factor to compare between data room providers. When selecting a data room, it is important to consider how easy it is to upload and download documents to and from their platform as well as their editing and search abilities.
Many teams need more than simply just a data room. Certain providers offer virtual data rooms with integrated project management capabilities, not only storing your data but also streamlining your process and communications, both internally and externally. VDRs with project management software allow teams to interact more efficiently, plan next steps, delegate workflows, and organize individual tasks. When looking for a provider, expect more than your just a platform to securely store data.
The last thing a team wants to do when beginning a project is to learn a new, complex software platform. Data rooms should make life easier. Look for virtual data rooms with intuitive, easy-to-use platforms with 24/7 customer service.
Virtual data rooms should track important information and create meaningful analytics. During M&A transactions, it is often essential to understand which users and buyers are most engaged and which documents they view most. VDRs with analytic capabilities can lead to more informed decisions and aid the integration process.
Certain providers allow for the integration of other commonly used softwares onto their platform, such as Microsoft Office, Salesforce and chat tools. Software integration will increase functionality and allow you to get the most out of your data room.
Astronomically expensive data rooms that center around per-page pricing models will hopefully become a thing of the past.
20 years ago, VDR providers physically scanned and uploaded documents onto costly servers. Today, everything is digital and the cost of cloud storage is at an all-time low of $0.002 per-page. Data room providers charging between $0.40 and $0.85 per page are making an incredibly high profit margin without necessarily providing the best technology and room quality.
As VDR technology evolves, their pricing models must evolve as well. Flat monthly fees, for example, allow deal teams to worry less about data, user and time overages and more about what is best for their deal.