Implementing Digital Signature is a good idea to move away from paper-based processes, speeding up contract signing, and staying safe during the COVID-19 pandemic. It helps organizations in their paperless office strategy and digital transformation initiative. But where are the pitfalls, what shall someone implementing digital signature in the organization be aware of?
Signatures are used in various critical business processes and e-signatures are becoming popular in the internet business especially after many countries have passed digital signature laws giving electronic signatures the same legal validity as a handwritten signature.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it is also a great idea to move away from paper which could transport a virus from one person to the other.
Here comes already the first hurdle to take, which type of solution fits for me? Well, let us answer first the question, for what do you require an electronic signature?
Do you want to replace signatures in internal approval processes on forms or do you require to share documents out of your organizations that shall hold legal in front of the court? These are the main differentiators when it comes to electronic signature.
In most of the cases, we have processes running outside of our data-driven systems (ERP or CRM) which are assisted with forms. These are processes that usually require an authorization or 4 eye approval concept, like a simple purchase order above a certain limit. Using here an electronic signature can be as simple as creating the process in a workflow system that allows participants to be identified by authorization methods and track their task activity to approve or deny.
In case a process tracking information is not relevant the result will be exported into a document format holding a visual presentation of the approval result. To ensure that these documents don’t get manipulated after creation a document can be sealed with encryption.
In basic, a digital signature is an electronically generated hashcode which represents a unique signature of a system, from a person or legal body. And here is already the differentiator found, it has nothing to do anymore with internal approval or signing process only. The approval of a signature itself can be done by anyone having access to signed data or a signed document. Methods and systems assist in the validation process which follow also the legally required law.
But where are the pitfalls, what do I need to look at to have the right solution in place? Let’s have a look into some of them.
The majority of countries in the world are ready with their own digital signature law. They describe the technical type of digital signature and explained how to replace the wet handwritten signature and sign legal binding in digital ways. It is important to validate which law is valid for your organization based on the country of registration. Working together with an e-signature vendor is preferable, a quick checklist can help you here.
- Ask your vendor about the digital law of your country
- Ask your vendor about his certification for his offered solution
- Make sure the digital signature certificate used is approved in your country
- Check if by law certain hardware is required and compatible with your used OS
- Make sure you understand the exception of your business processes and documents
In most of the countries, the exceptions of documents which can not be signed are the same. They all relate to a third party witness process of signing. Samples are: Last will, titles, or property selling and purchase.
The fact is that over 65% of organizations get wrong advice from solution vendors who do not prove their solution is legally approved or are outdated. Independent sources can help you with validation.
The Storage of Signed Documents
While it is a good idea to move paper-based signing processes to digital signature processes the question stays open, where do we store our signed documents? The challenge here is not the options offered, it is more the fact, how do you find them after the signing process is done. A good answer would be a document management system, a cloud-based storage solution, or a simple file sharing service. Implementing a Digital Signature solution shall deal with some answers to the questions below before you get started.
- How many documents per week/month do we need to sign
- How many people need to gain access to the signed document
- How many internal and external documents need to be signed and to which business process do they belong to
- How much do documents need to be protected against other people eyes
- How long do I need to archive the signed document, is it a contract, does it has an expiry date
- Do I need to share the document to a later point outside of my organization
The fact is here that 85% of people signing a document the digital signed document stays in their email inbox. This is for sure not a good storage to keep important documents – archival, protection, and having them protected against loss are only some concerns.
While the implementation of a digital signature or electronic signature solution is straight forward the pitfall lies in the detail. The main factor underestimated in over 87% of implementations is time. Digital Signature can bring a quick ROI in a short period of time, starting to be up and running in not even 2 days or in complex scenarios a couple of weeks. But some factors should be considered and mention to avoid a surprise.
- Identify the Signatory requestors across your organization before you start
- Identify the devices people can use to sign which can be desktop, laptops, or mobile devices
- Make sure mobile users have a data plan on their mobile device to be reachable
- Make integration with your house internal user directory and avoid wild spread user accounts
- Get your technical team on board in time
- Integration into your main IT systems like ERP or CRM is essential to make customer processes easy
The fact is that integrating a digital signature solution within your core business applications will bring you the largest benefit of productivity, data security, and customer experience.
Whenever you want to implement an electronic signature solution for internal purpose or external documents try to find one single solution which can deal with both. You can save money and time by making a proper plan for your solution and implementation. Keep an eye on the legal requirements which can change over time. This applies also to your vendor whose certificate validity can expire. If you have an internal IT person make it their main priority to keep your business safe in operation.
Skillz Middle East is experienced in implementing a digital signature solution for any type of business and regardless of size. We work with market leaders like Adobe Sign, DigiCert, Verisign, and DocuSign. Contact our team which helps you quickly to get up and running.
Electronic signature services solutions bring a quick ROI to organizations without losing a lot of time.