Take E-Signatures to the Next Level

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By David Winkler

Reprinted with permission from the July 21, 2021 issue of DOCUMENT Strategy magazine

Electronic signatures aren’t new, but they’ve evolved to quickly become essential tools for how business gets done today.

E-signatures provide an electronic process that indicates acceptance of an agreement or record. The technology provides one of the easiest opportunities for organizations to digitally send, sign and approve documents in minutes — from anywhere, at any time. No more printing, scanning and emailing or physically circulating or shipping documents to and from interested parties. No more constant follow-ups triggered by slow responses. No more changes outside of legal review or missing information on forms, leaving staff struggling to account for these things. And no more time spent filing, managing and searching for paper-based documents stored in towers of file cabinets.

Whether an organization needs to close deals, onboard new hires, enroll students and customers or gather consent and execute any contractual processes, the right e-signature solution offers the speed, simplicity and precision to carry out these business-essential activities.

The industries that stand to benefit most from e-sig solutions include healthcare, legal, financial services, insurance, education and telecommunications. But make no mistake, the use of digital signatures can positively affect every type of business.

New Solutions Offer More Than Just One-Off Digital Signing Convenience

The electronic signature software segment is one of the fastest-growing markets around the world. And, it is heading into this year with a healthy head of steam, due in large part to repercussions from COVID-19. In 2020, the global digital signature market size reached $2.8 billion and is projected to grow to $14.1 billion by 2026. Pre-pandemic, the demand for e-signature solutions was driven by a larger number of companies moving to digital document processes; more universally accepted legal practices for the use of e-signatures; workflow efficiencies; and an increasing demand for more security around documents and the information they contain.

A major factor behind the impressive growth in electronic signatures is the technology’s increasing adoption through Software as a Service (SaaS). Aside from being easy to implement, this SaaS-based adoption growth is being driven by the growing cloud deployments of e-signature solutions. A large number of SaaS-deployed e-signing tools are used in HR, sales, logistics and legal departments of businesses that frequently require signatures of third-party partners.

The days of completing paperwork only in hard copy — when deadlines are tight — can be virtually eliminated. Today’s businesses require a hybrid approach for managing signatures on human-created documents and machine-generated content within distributed applications and across workflows. By automating document workflows across departments, e-signatures can provide substantial efficiencies in helping businesses eliminate paperwork bottlenecks. Along with cloud-based document management and process automation platforms, e-signature solutions are digitizing documents, which is significantly more efficient when compared to the conventional pen-and-paper method.

Additionally, e-signatures will be one of the essential technologies required as the business world moves toward a more hybrid workplace model.

Commercial-Vehicle Dealership Operator Eliminates Manual Sign-Offs for HR Documents

One national organization that operates more than 30 commercial vehicle dealerships across the Southwest, Southeast and Hawaii was relying on manual systems and processes in order to secure employee signatures on HR-related documents, such as onboarding forms, policy-status changes and employee handbooks. With a growing workforce of more than 2,000 employees dispersed across the country, the organization needed a digital signing solution that could be safely deployed in bulk through email with the ability to customize content and personalize messages based on HR’s various requests.

To help streamline the signing process and automate the associated workflows, the commercial vehicle dealership operator deployed one of the newest e-signature solutions that could be customized to its specific needs and integrated within the organization’s existing systems to enable more efficient — and productive — workflows. Through its new e-sig solution, HR staff members can create email templates with a URL link that takes employees to a secure corporate e-forum where they can fill out their personal information, upload copies of IDs or other requested attachments, sign documents and hit complete. At that point, the solution starts a workflow with an accompanying audit trail that automatically routes through HR for processing, reviews and approvals.

The deployment of this technology has allowed the human resources department to save hours/days of staff’s time, reduce the errors associated with these types of manual processes, more easily comply with employment policies and regulations and modernize both HR and corporate workflows — essentially with one click.

E-Sign Solutions Provide Easy Jumpstart for Digital Transformation

A digital signature may seem trivial, but it is a major stepping stone in the business world’s push toward digital transformation. It helps millions of companies digitize a number of operations. Among them, the ability to:

  • Eliminate pen and paper. And the errors, costs, risks and delays they create across your business.
  • Drive mobility. Collect signatures, access documents and manage the process from anywhere.
  • Transform workflows. Bring speed, efficiency and visibility into every step of the signing process.
  • Build stronger relationships. Deliver a digital signing experience that makes working with a business effortless.
  • Stay in compliance. Keep information protected, enforce the rules and produce an audit trail for every action taken.
  • Support green initiatives. Make a positive impact on the environment. Paper documents simply send the wrong message in an age where sustainability is becoming increasingly more important to customers and partners.

More than just a matter of convenience, the most innovative e-signature solutions take one-off digital signings to a whole new level through integrations with cloud-based document management and process automation platforms — allowing companies to add signature requests and capabilities to any document-driven workflow to fully automate the agreement process online. These capabilities help move organizations further along their digital transformation journeys—removing the need for any paper-based documents and empowering them to implement full digital transaction management.

David Winkler is executive vice president and chief product officer at Docufree, a business-process services provider of large-volume document scanning, cloud-based document management and intelligent process automation.