Why Go Paperless?
What are electronic signatures and forms and are they relevant to me?
How do I determine the need for E-Signatures and Digital Documents for my business?
The following factors can help determine how much of an impact an E-Signature solution can have in your organisation.
- Is getting the contract/form signed quickly important?
- Are many documents sent for signing simply not returned?
- Does your business have a signing process or workflow to ensure proper sign-off and delivery of completed documents to the proper personnel?
- Do you process a large volume of documents and contracts per year?
- When you get the forms back, are there any errors (e.g., missing signatures, pages, data, etc.)?
- Do you collect data on your forms?
- Do you rekey information into other systems once you receive the documents back?
How does the traditional paper workflow compare to the digital workflow?
Many industries need to provide access to a product or service requiring a legally binding signature. For many the process still looks something like this:
- The company sends a form for completion by email or post
- The signer prints and signs
- The recipient faxes, mails or scans and emails it back
- The company receives and reviews the form
- The company countersigns and scans for storage, prints or photocopies, posts or emails back to the recipient
- Copies are made to give to anyone in the workflow
- The company then physically stores the document – in many cases never to be looked at again.
** Note that this doesn’t account for potential processing errors along the way or the added difficulties when there are more than one signer.
Now compare the Digital option:
- The company logs into the e-signature platform, prepares the document and sends it to the signer.
- The Company accesses the document audit trail to see any progress on the signing
- The signer completes and returns the document on their device
- The company reviews and completes the document online, triggering automated copies to be sent to the customer and anyone in the workflow
- The document is automatically stored online
** Note that if there are multiple signatories required, they are simply added in at the initiation of the document and everyone receives a copy to sign at the same time. If there are changes to the document they can be made live.
What’s the Business Case?
The economic case is compelling, even if it is based just on direct costs. But often the soft costs are so compelling that, for some businesses, not using E-signatures puts the business at a competitive disadvantage.
With innovation as the current global business mandate, organisations cannot take the business as usual mentality. They must find better, faster, more innovative ways to deliver their goods and services, and digitising documents and the processes that go along with them is exactly the kind of tool that can transform your business.
And your customers are demanding digital ways to transact – particularly if they include members of the younger generation. Organisations that don’t adopt new technologies will be overtaken and, while they might keep their current customers, they’ll struggle to compete to get new ones.
Only 1 in 5 deals are signed electronically these days, according to new research released by Aberdeen Group. But before you get too comfortable, their report also reveals it’s the e-signature adopters, the 1 in 5, who are “demonstrating measurable sales performance advantages directly associated with this developing technology”.
Here are some use cases that should be considered for e-signature adoption:
- Closing sales contracts – This is the number one use of e-signatures, as it shortens the sales cycle, improves sales force productivity, and impresses customers.
- Quality Control – Forms deemed to be not in good order (NIGO) can drop enormously, which results in more money and time to the bottom line.
- Contract management – This is the most popular application for back offices, finance and legal departments that have to manage a high volume of contracts.
- Project management – Especially in complex projects where multiple vendors have to collaborate to achieve shared objectives. E-signatures speed project start-up, ensure accountability at every step of the process, and provide a complete audit trail.
- Workforce management – E-signatures streamline the document workflow and ensure a high degree of compliance.
- Digital workflows for digital businesses – As more and more businesses are effectively “digital from birth,” anything other than a digital signature process is unacceptable.
So why are businesses still using ink signatures?
Because like all disruptive innovations, e-signatures must pass through a technology adoption lifecycle in order to be integrated into the existing fabric of business processes. Confusion around legality and compliance, an under appreciation and proof of the benefits mean that we haven’t progressed past the early adoption phase of the lifecycle.
The Return on an E-Signature Investment?
Electronic signatures afford you any number of benefits. Combined, they add up to tremendous reasons to add them to your business practice.
- Lower cost. The direct savings are many: paper, fuel, shipping. The indirect savings include rekeying of data, time saved in waiting for documents to return, storage costs.
- Better customer relationships. No matter who you’re asking for a signature, the speed and convenience that e-signatures give your customers can lead to increased satisfaction with you and your business. And younger customers are demanding ways of transacting online so you’ll be meeting exactly what they require.
- Increase efficiency. Documents signed electronically save you time because you’re not waiting for the printer to warm up, waiting for the fax to go through, or the signed documents to come back. Many of our customers get clients to sign forms while they are on site or even on talk them through it on the phone.
- Increase revenue. With the convenience of electronic signatures, contract turnaround time is so much faster. And when you get the signature more quickly, you can also start getting paid more quickly than before.
- Track your document activity. If you’ve ever wondered, “Did he get it? Has she signed yet? Should I wait by my fax? Did it go through?” E-signatures can give let you see exactly what is happening with your documents.
- Reliable. If you’ve ever waited for your children to bring home documents from school, you’ll know how easily lost or damaged paper can be. Documents signed electronically are stored, and safely backed up in the cloud, accessible anytime, anywhere.
- Legally Binding. With a complete audit trail of the signed documents, you can have confidence in your documents’ legality as much or even more than traditional pen-signed documents.
- Mobile. The speed of business is now faster than ever, and electronic signature services let you send, sign and track documents from anywhere. No need to be locked at the office anymore.
- Documents in Good Order. Eliminating the possibility for customers to fill in the wrong data and eliminating the need to rekey data from customer-filled forms and contracts can save businesses a tremendous amount each year.
- Enhanced Professional Stature. Sales professionals using eSignature technology are 3.5 times more adept at positioning their business as leading-edge, mobilised innovators.
- Faster Quote Generation – Sending quotes as quickly as you can puts you ahead of your competition, who are also very likely to be quoting your potential client as well. Additionally, the faster you can generate quotes, the faster you can close deals and generate more quotes!