Most of you reading this have surely already heard about the term ‘going paperless.’ Some of you might also be in the process of doing the same for your organization. You could be thinking of doing that (or might already be doing that) for a couple of reasons such as:
- To save time on the processes
- To increase your returns on investments
- To reduce the costs incurred on papers
- To increase mobility in document interaction
It is great to see organizations going paperless for the reasons mentioned above and more. But, when it comes to signatures, things are not that easy. Going paperless is of no use if you have to print and physically sign the documents each time. It takes you farther away from the efficiency in the workflow that you are aiming for.
This is exactly where e-signatures come into the picture. When you replace physical signatures with e-signatures, your organization can stick to its aim of going completely paperless, and you can also keep the workflow electronic.
So, what is an e-signature (electronic signature)?
In simple terms, the electronic signature is the electronic version of the handwritten signature. For a more official definition of the term, the ESIGN Act of the US Federal government states that it is “an electronic sound, symbol, or process, attached to or logically associated with a contract or other record and executed or adopted by a person with the intent to sign the record.”
Now, you are not wrong if you think the definition is kind of vague. The term E-signatures are not clearly defined, and it can actually be applied to many signing actions. The term can be used for placing your initials or name, simply checking the necessary boxes or inserting an image of your handwritten signature. So, it can refer to any action you take that indicates your intention to sign.
Benefits of using electronic signatures for your business
1. Increase in contract speed
E-signatures can prevent needless delays in confirming contracts leading to enhanced performances. You already have enough things to worry about. No need to add to your troubles in the form of paperwork to be juggled around for signature and getting late on signing contracts.
There are various ways through which online signatures streamline and accelerate the contract process, such as:
- Electronic signatures are great for the life of your contract because it solves the problem of repetitive signing.
- The process of negotiation gets accelerated because every step of it can be easily authenticated and accessed by all parties. Thus, critical issues can be identified and traced before the final execution.
- Electronic signatures help in making sure that there is no delay in executing contracts even when the parties are diverse geographically.
2. Better security measures
Nowadays, security breaches are quite common, and it is important to stay awake to the precautions against cyber attack. A major advantage associated with electronic signatures is that there are fewer chances of security breaches. On the other hand, wet ink signatures can be tampered easily. Contract management software enabled with electronic signatures can automatically identify the slightest altering and record more data points compared to paper.
3. Reduced transaction costs
The automated process of e-signatures can lower the financial impact of human errors like signature mistakes. Such mistakes can lead to problems down the line if not detected initially, and thus, slow down the entire process. The software dealing with e-signatures can help in the mitigation of risks by sending alerts about compliance issues in a contract.
All in all, it just makes sure that everything is in perfect order, which saves the cost of fixing the errors that could have been easily prevented by you.
Selecting the right e-signature software for your business
Choosing the right e-signature software for your business can be difficult if you don’t know where to start and what questions to ask. Here are the five questions that you need to keep in mind while selecting e-signature software for your business.
- Are you getting the option of company branding?
It is your brand that sets you apart from other businesses in your vertical. So, there is no reason for you to not want to make your brand shine through the e-signature software that you have selected.
It is best to look for a software solution that lets you customize the document workflows with the logo of your brand. Placing the identity of your company in front of the client might seem like a small gesture, but it is a crucial step in offering a valuable brand experience. Add to that the ease of signing and viewing experience, and you have everything that you need.
- Can it be integrated with your existing tools?
You probably need to deal with over a dozen business documents related to the management of your daily tasks. Using the e-signature software, which can be integrated with popular apps like Microsoft, Google and Box can help in increasing employee productivity.
You must check if the software has a flexible and powerful esignature API, which can equip your business for the in-built e-signature experience within the tools that you use. It will save you a world of time in your daily work processes.
- Does the software offer a high level of security?
The software has to be able to keep your electronic signature and your data safe. However, different software comes with different levels and features of security.
A rule of thumb that you can remember here is that you should secure the documents through SSL encryption. Now add to that a thorough auditing trail to track the complete process of signing, from the email address of the signer, the device IP, the document’s fingerprint, to timestamp. You need these audit trails because they can serve as legal evidence if your business ever has to undergo scrutiny in the court.
- Are you getting a smooth mobile experience?
In the highly competitive business world of today, you need a solution that lets you sign, manage, and send documents while you are on the go. So, opt for the software that provides apps popular to all the leading platforms like Android, Web, and iOS.
The compatibility features such as instant notifications should be there to make sure that your team is always on time and on-task.
- Is it easy to use?
The ease of using it is one of the things that you will have to consider when selecting e-signature software. If you have to leaf through the user manual for hours before even getting started, then you are certainly not using the right software.
Select the software which is intuitive and simple. It needs to be designed to deliver a positive user experience every time. Highlighted compulsory fields and reusable templates are the handy features that you should look for in the software.
Wrapping it up
The old-style paper-based world is increasingly taking a backseat and leaving space for digital processes, and e-signatures are a step in the right direction for that. You obviously want to maximize efficiency but remain relevant in this ever-progressing digital landscape. So, why not start looking into electronic signatures today?0