It's a sign of the times that kids aren’t learning cursive anymore. We’re not sure if handwritten script is a relic of the past, but we do know it’s becoming less and less necessary.
Electronic signatures are the future: simplifying workflows, improving document management, and crucially – saving time and money.
But to save, sometimes you need to spend a little first. In this blog post, we’ll show you how to convince colleagues in each relevant department to cap their biros and put the benefits of e-signing to work.
- The business benefits of signing electronically
- Documents and the signature journey
- Overcoming objections
- Getting colleagues onboard
- Don't just take our word for it
The benefits of signing online
If you’re wondering how to convince your department or company to adopt e-signatures, start by asking how many times a day you need to sign your name to a document. It probably averages out to two or three times a week.
On first pass that might not seem much of a burden, but across the organisation it all adds up. Printing the document, ensuring it's formatted correctly, making a copy for your own files, and then routing the signed original to its end recipient (or recipients if more than one signature is required) all come with costs:
- Your time
- The time of other people in the distribution chain
- The hard cost of consumables when you print and copy
- The cost of storage – the filing systems and square footage needed to keep paper handy.
Paper-based document systems also need to be managed, meaning someone on the admin side has to maintain the folders and cabinets. And then there’s opportunity cost. If the contract kicking off a business deal is waiting on signatures, the snail-mail pace of approvals processes can delay the day new revenues start flowing.
All of that can be eliminated by electronic signature software.
E-signature solutions first found a home in document-heavy sectors like insurance, banking, real estate, and healthcare, where regulation requires most transactions to be backed up by proof of the purchasers’ intent to buy.
After that, adoption became more horizontal, with functions like HR, legal and sales in every industry seeing the advantages of going fully digital. They realised that e-signature tools not only simplify and speed-up workflows, they keep documents secure, and integrate easily with other systems.
So where do they fit into a company's workflow?
Documents and the signature journey
New contract processes provide a pretty relatable example of the un-seen intricacies and inefficiencies that characterise manual signature workflow. In most mid-sized to large organisations, it goes something like this:
- Sales executive closes a new deal.
- They send the good news back to HQ and register the win in the CRM system.
- A contract is generated.
- It's circulated internally by email – or by hand – from one stakeholder to the next.
- Then it goes to legal for final approval.
- If legal has changes, the contract is sent back – by email or by hand – for a second internal review round.
- Company standards for document naming and version control have to be activated and hopefully adhered to everyone in the approvals chain.
- When all edits are complete, two copies of the finalised contract are generated on paper.
- They are signed and sent by post or courier to the recipient/counterparty for their signature.
- After a matter of days or weeks, after the documents have been circulated at the recipient's organisation and received approval, countersignatures are obtained.
- One copy of the countersigned contract is returned.
- Once received, it may be scanned for electronic storage in the company's document management and CRM systems.
- Then the hard copy is filed in the company’s paper filing system.
That’s a lot of activity, time, skilled resource, and personal attention to move just one document through approvals. With an e-signature solution, the process looks a bit different:
- Sales executive closes a new deal.
- They generate a contract from a pre-approved template in the company’s e-signature system.
- Emails are sent automatically to internal stakeholders promoting them to review the contract online and make any edits by a specific deadline.
- The finalised draft is sent electronically to the counterparty for review and approval.
- After any edits are agreed, the recipient signs the contract electronically.
- It's automatically stored in the cloud and accessible by both parties.
Depending on the number of integrations with company systems, the e-signature can trigger other automatic actions that save time and admin; for example: generating invoices, automatically saving electronic copies to different departmental DropBoxes, or sending to the CRM system.
Every organisation is different, and the number of steps can vary, but the overall outcome is always time and money saved.
And there are less tangible benefits as well. Paper can get lost, damaged, or misfiled. Printers and scanners malfunction. Version control is only effective if everyone sticks to the rules.
E-signatures eliminate those uncertainties.
Overcoming potential objections
No matter how compelling the benefits of e-signing seem ‘on paper’, getting people to leave comfortable processes behind is hard at the best of times.
Add to that the perfectly legitimate concerns that higher-ups may have about implementing any new system. There will be tough questions to answer.
Here are some of the most common:
Will implementing a new system will take a lot of time and effort?
Our customer Flight Refund took only 90 minutes to implement the Signrequest API, dramatically reducing friction for their customers and improving sales conversion. Implementation time is an issue across most IT deployments; but with SignRequest, what you gain back in efficiency will help you hit your ROI objectives quickly.
Is it going to cost a lot?
Expect to save at least 47% over sticking with ink & paper. SignRequest has a monthly subscription package for every budget, from free to a starter package of €7 per month. Look at the calculations below and check out our comparison chart to see how much money SignRequest can save you.
Is privacy protected?
SignRequest is fully GDPR and ISO27001 compliant, offering multiple access controls to ensure that whoever logs in is meant to be there.
Getting colleagues onboard
Every department in the signature workflow chain will want to be sure that their needs are met before they'll give you their buy-in.
First up will be finance. Your number crunchers will want to see hard evidence of the savings that investment in e-signing will deliver. To make that story easier to tell, we've created this handy chart:
If we assume on average that the business sends ten documents a day for signature, at an average length of three pages each, that adds up to 7200 pages and 240 working days a year. That means you’d stand to save up to 47% in costs alone. With additional integrations, you'd expect to save even more.
Next up will be the legal, HR, and procurement departments. They’ll all want to be sure of the legality of the e-signature system being used, and that regulatory rules for data privacy are being met.
On the legal front, SignRequest adheres to EU eIDAS regulations enacted in 2016. These require all EU member states to follow new rules that ensure the legal effect of electronic signatures.
Where privacy is concerned, SignRequest is both GDPR and ISO27001 compliant. We use hash code cryptography to ensure the security of all electronically signed documents, and digital signatures to capture an audit trail and show the integrity of each one.
And then, of course, there are the end users: customers, partners, suppliers, their suppliers, and their end customers. Their needs are answered in the simplicity, speed, and ease-of-use e-signing brings:
- Receive an email letting you know there’s a document you need to sign
- Choose from one of three options: read, decline, or accept
- Sign electronically with a few clicks
- Hit send and receive a copy for yourself via email
Don’t take our word for it
Let’s be honest, a lot of what anyone says about any new technology has to be seen to be believed. That’s why we offer a free subscription option, free trials to all our paid packages, and access to the free-to-use e-signing tool directly on our homepage.
Why not give it a try? Or get in touch with us today to find out more.