By Mary Ellen Power
Best-in-class businesses gain efficiency by automating process workflows. To do this, they’re turning to electronic signature technology for its ability to change paperwork nightmares into quick and painless tasks.
Cloud-based solutions can be extremely flexible and a fast means of reaching agreement on painting contracts, change orders and even subcontract agreements without having yet another face-to-face meeting just to hand over a pen and paper. Part of the cloud’s ever-growing acceptance for business transactions comes from the fact that customers want to do business on their smartphone or tablet from the convenience of their homes.
Even with greater acceptance, the cloud can pose lingering questions about security. Businesses can allay their fears by using an e-signature solution built on digital signature technology. How so, you ask? Well, an electronic signature alone, just like its wet ink counterpart, is a legal concept. Regardless of whether the signature is scripted and captured on a signature tablet or a click-to-sign button, its purpose is to capture the intent and consent of a signer to agree with and adhere to the terms and conditions in a contract.
The term digital signature refers to the encryption technology used to secure data and verify the authenticity of a signed record. So, an e-signature solution that incorporates digital signature technology and embeds the signature audit trail information directly into the e-signed document creates a tamper-evident document and helps ensure non-repudiation. This prevents someone from being able to say, “That’s not me who signed that document.”
Getting business completed quickly and accurately is essential to growing a business so it is important not to compromise on these three requirements when choosing an e-signature solution.
The Best Signing Experience
Near-constant Internet access has trained customers to demand instant gratification. This immediacy is changing how and when they want to connect with a business, with a large part of the population preferring to make their purchases via smartphone, tablet or desktop over paper, fax, printer and scanner. Forget about getting everyone in one room to sign contracts – the preference is to review documents on their own time, often after regular working hours.
Evolving expectations of the modern customer demands easy-to-use solutions that don’t compromise the security and compliance of the transaction behind the scenes. A good electronic signature solution built on digital signature technology allows a business to invite anyone, be it a customer, supplier, coworker or subcontractor to review, accept and securely e-sign documents from any web-enabled device (computer, tablet or smartphone) at any time. Make it easy for signers to authenticate themselves, review documents before signing and complete the workflow without installing software on a PC, smartphone or tablet. Some e-signature solutions even offer added ease-of-use features like guided signing using easy-to-see yellow tabs.
Business on Your Own Terms
Naysayers may push back on the idea of electronic signatures because of the assumed cost to implement the technology. It’s an old argument. The competitive pressure to offer the convenience of e-business is leading many to turn to e-signatures in the cloud. According to analyst firm Gartner’s Gregg Kreizman, “The ease of implementation of the software as a service delivery model will continue to drive adoption of e-signatures and will establish software as a service as the predominant global e-signature delivery model.”
Cloud-based e-signatures are particularly well suited for contractors with tight budgets, which is pretty much true for everyone these days. This path eliminates any delays caused by IT resource constraints because the e-signature service provider takes care of provisioning the servers, hardware and software.
Paperwork can be signed face-to-face on a mobile device or it can be delivered via the web. The hassle of scheduling follow-up appointments to review and sign documents becomes unnecessary. The technology also cuts operational costs because the need to manually prepare, deliver and archive paper documentation is cut out and staff can be more productive in other areas of the business.
The cloud allows even the lone professional to benefit from the technology and it’s possible to do this without an e-signature solution dictating how an e-signature process works or looks. Even a “solopreneur” can easily get started with any size project, no matter the complexity, means of deployment or budget with a seamless process that displays the business brand front and center.
The Highest Level of Legal Protection
An ironclad e-signature solution leveraging digital signature technology creates tamper-evident documents. Combined with the process and document evidence captured, it creates a powerful audit trail of electronic evidence that clearly demonstrates the signer understood and accepted contract conditions at the time of e-signing should any document ever be challenged. The right e-signature solution ensures online documents are presented as they would be on paper, all in the correct order on any web browser. It’s this evidence that helps settle disputes before they even get to court.
With the simple addition of electronic signatures to existing documents and forms, long delays and manual errors are eliminated, opening the opportunity for increased revenue, improved customer loyalty and lowered operating costs.
About the Author
Mary Ellen Power is vice president of marketing at Silanis Technology, a provider of electronic signature solutions. Over the years, Power has acquired in-depth knowledge of the electronic signature market and its impact in real-world customer deployments within companies of all sizes. For a free trial of e-SignLive, visit www.silanis.com .