From time and cost savings, environmental friendliness, and better customer experience to improved brand reputation, businesses have multiple reasons to implement e-signatures in their operations as part of a larger digital transformation.
The traditional signing methods that still need the use of pen and paper are currently taking a shift towards digital solutions in most sectors, such as human resources, insurance, banking, health, education, and other small businesses.
To a greater extent, you are probably also feeling the urge to shift to digital operations. If that is so, the following guide outlines different steps for implementing e-signatures in business and other insightful nuggets you need to know about digital signatures.
Understanding e-signatures and digital signatures.
According to the Electronic Signatures in Global and National Commerce Act, e-signatures are defined as an electronic process, sound, or symbol that is logically associated with or attached to a record and adopted or executed by a person with an intention to sign a record.
Examples of electronic signatures designed using free digital signatures for creating digital signatures include a mouse squiggle on the device, a scanned image on the image of an individual's wet signature, a hand signature created on a computer device using a finger or a stylus, a typed signature image at the bottom of an email, among others.
On the other hand, digital signatures are a sub-category of e-signatures because they are also created in an electronic manner through a cryptographic mechanism. Digital signatures go ahead in terms of providing trust and security services.
Many countries, like the European Kingdom, the United States, Brazil, India, and Australia, recognize e-signatures through in their jurisdiction and traditional signatures, making them completely legal documents.
Users can append signatures to documents online through a single mouse click or use their fingers to trace their signatures on any electronic device using their fingers, and this is what makes electronic signatures common among its users.
The regulations and policies relating to digital signatures vary across vendors. This is why users should be in touch with them and always confirm if their e-signature systems are tampered with or are in the correct nature as the first time they were implemented.
In different instances, these providers should be replaced in case the vendors are changed, or they become obsolete in specific regions to prevent e-signature forgeries at all times.
Electronic signatures apply a type of cryptographic transmission of data to allow recipients to identify the origin of what it contains. Data security is also catered for since these electronic signatures feature user authentications using digital certificates, biometrics, and sim card methods.
Electronic signatures are ideal for almost everyone, as most contracts can be handled through electronic procedures. They are beginning to receive usage on almost every type of business usages, such as service contract agreements, and any other complex contract transaction documents.
Currently, the availability of multiple cloud-based services has simplified the process to make it a lot easier and more precise via additional features.
Decisions to consider when choosing to implement e-signatures.
If you are interested in implementing e-signatures in business, the following are some of the e-signature implementation tips to help you achieve this;
In the process of appending a signature to a document, different pieces of evidence are collected to verify signers' identities, which conventional pen and paper signatures are not able to provide. However, the first thing to consider is which signature method suits your business according to your needs.
At FillAnyPdf, we have created various signing methods which can be used in any business model regardless of its portfolio, size, and area of operations.
These signatures can be integrated into the operating systems of any business process. The integration does not only affect the operations but can also be significantly approved.
For e-signatures in business to be legally valid, they must be able to collect enough evidence to prove the signer’s identity, if necessary. The best option for realizing this depends on the type of transaction risks involved and whether you are dealing with existing or new business establishments.
For new businesses, you have to ask for the signers' identity data, which includes their ID number, email address, or telephone number. The details used before are usually used again for established users.
In some instances, such as remote signing, a two-factor validation system is usually performed through a One-Time-Password to the signer's device, which can be validated through their identity.
A robust signature software should ensure that the signer sees and know exactly what they signed for, also known as What You See Is What You Signed For. This provides complete certainty of the document and the information contained in it.
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To make sure this is taken care of, e-signatures for business vendors must combine the following two elements:
A practical signature should allow the addition of extra fields for signers to add their details. This is especially useful in the health sector to enable patients to sign informed anamnesis and consents. They are also helpful in ensuring legal data legitimacy and GDPR.
This is the last step of getting the signer's consent process. There are different considerations when selecting e-signatures, including the application of international standards throughout the signing process.
This aspect is of the essence as it guarantees that the signed document is self-contained and valid over a given period of time. This further eliminates the need to reach out to the provider or the involved parties during formalization time.
Steps for implementing e-signatures in business.
If you are considering going paperless in your business, use the steps discussed in the following section to effectively integrate e-signatures in business:
a. Design a business case.
Before adding e-signatures in business, ensure you got a strong business case for doing so. Identify how the move will improve customer service, cut costs, and improve workflow. Also, ensure how improvement in one area will influence the productivity in other business operations.
For instance, an improvement in front office operations should influence positive productivity in back office operations. There is a need to remain objective in the business area you want to streamline instead of only working to solve a section of it.
b. Understand the system and its requirements.
There are multiple e-signature software in the market, and most of them offer download-free options for anyone with a stable internet connection. Usually, vendors offer free trials for customers so they can try them before buying.
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Before buying e-signatures for business, it is advisable to read their labels and real users’ reviews. Also, determine whether you need to use it along with other software in your business or you can use it alone.
For example, ask yourself the following questions, should you integrate the software with your payment processing systems? Or apply it in the customer service areas? Are your clients and related parties use similar applications? And what types of training should you give your staff to become conversant with the solution?
a. Identify hardware requirements.
Most electronic signatures are cloud-based and hardware agnostic, meaning they can operate effectively on any internet-based device regardless of their operating systems.
However, you need to consider how your employees and customers will use the software: will they access it on their own devices? Will the employees need a specific mobile device for the job to access the software and sign documents remotely? Do you need to integrate the system into the desktops so your employees can use them in the office?
These are basic things you need to confirm and ask during the free trial phase before purchasing the software.
b. Determine the legal implications.
In America, The Uniform Electronic Act (UETA) of 1999 and the Electronic Signatures in Global and National Commerce Act (ESIGN) of 2000 give a clear framework for e-signatures in business.
This law gives electronic signatures legality and binding capabilities, just like written signatures. However, before implementing them, ensure you know the legal implications of every sector your business is based in. legal and health industries have different legal requirements than real estate and commerce.
Understand which laws apply to how you collect, protect, and store e-signatures. Most vendors outline the industry standards and legal policies they follow, so it would be best to consult an attorney, technical specialist, or accountant to determine the relevant possibilities.
c. Create a data storage system.
Depending on the software you choose and your business type, you may consider creating a data storage system to manage the e-signature. Consult with your preferred vendor if they provide data storage services.
If they don't, confirm what costs can be associated with data storage. The prices will depend on several factors, like whether the storage is in the cloud or on-premises and whether it is in-house or outsourced.
Adoption can be challenging.
Change is always scary, but if it involves technology, it can be scarier. One of the significant challenges businesses are facing is the implementation of new technologies. With every new digital introduction in an organization, a learning curve must exist, which can lead to new concerns among team members.
It is always difficult to convince employees that a new solution will improve their performance without them understanding it. Business leaders must be at the forefront to advocate and educate members on why digital systems are needed and how they will improve their skills and experience while boosting the business' bottom line.
Technology will never be effective 100% all the time, and e-signatures are not immune to this fact. One of the major importance of digital documents is the ability to allow remote viewing and operations on smart devices, however, outdated smart devices and web browsers can pose display issues and hinder the process.
Also, for desktop and laptop users, ad pop-ups virus vulnerabilities can further interfere with user engagement and compound the problems.
Many providers offer mobile applications to allow downloads for mobile usage to prevent common problems on mobile phones. However, it is still their responsibility to maintain these provisions to avoid interference, which removes full ownership from the users.
Implementing e-signatures in business has a lot of benefits that cannot be assumed. From cost reduction and improved customer service to streamlined business workflows, digital signatures can revolutionize the business towards improved productivity and profit margins.
After the decision to go paperless in your business, there are things you need to consider to ensure you have chosen the best. These include accessibility, identification, document display, forms, and signatures.
Once you ensure the solution have the ability for the factors discussed above, follow these steps for implementing e-signatures in business; design a business case, understand the system’s requirements, identify the hardware needs, consider legal implications, and create a data storage system.