eSignatures about to Play a Bigger Role, is your Solution Ready for Prime Time?

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eSignatures about to Play a Bigger Role, is your Solution Ready for Prime Time?
With automation, companies can also reduce the costs associated with manual, paper-based processes.
Photo by DocuSign on Unsplash

While it may not be as obvious as say, switching to work from home, the humble signature didn’t escape the pandemic unchanged.

With face-to-face impossible during lockdowns, documentation that still required “wet ink” had to adapt quickly and so the Australian Federal Government introduced temporary legislation to give broader recognition to eSignatures. And now it seems, it functioned as a pilot program, with the government considering whether the temporary should become permanent.

The current Treasury Laws Amendment (2021 Measures No. 1) Bill 2021 extended the temporary measures now in place until March 31, 2022. These allow companies to perform a range of functions that usually require face-to-face or paper-based actions. This includes the electronic execution of company documents and no longer requiring signatories to sign the same copy of a document.

Based on the success of this, the Federal Government announced earlier this month that its Deregulation Taskforce was taking submission on modernising document execution and the requirements around things such as deeds and statutory declarations to reflect our digital age.

Whatever the outcome, it’s likely signatures and similar forms of digital authentication will have an increasing role to play, and that’s good news. An Accenture study commission by the taskforce, estimates SMEs and consumers spent around nine million hours a year on statutory declarations. This includes printing and collection documents, travelling to and discussing it with witnesses, filling them out, copying and submitting. That’s time in your life you’ll never get back!

Finding an enterprise solution for enterprise needs

So, if eSignatures will play a more significant role in officialdom, it’s important to consider how you collect them and whether this fits into your broader organisational requirement. You probably use a range of software purpose-built for enterprises, rather than what’s designed for consumers. Your requirements are wider and you need software that can scale and adapt. So why is it, when it comes to eSignature technology, some companies think a basic solution will cut it?

Probably because capturing a digital signature is relatively simple, so it’s tempting to use the same software your customers may already use. While it’s true most software providers will have no trouble delivering fast and efficient remote signature capabilities, you need to consider whether they will impede your organisation’s future automation initiatives. If not, you need a solution that meets your customers’ immediate needs, but also has the features and functionality to support your business needs well into the future.

Four features of a forward-looking e-Signature solution

If you want a solution to support larger digital transformation efforts, it’s worth taking the time to carefully evaluate eSignature technologies and vendors. There are four questions you need to ask yourself:

1. Does it provide streamlined integration? An eSignature solution should integrate into existing core systems, such as CRMs and ERPs, and collaborate with corresponding workflows. When document and form signing is embedded deeply into your applications and workflows, you can develop in-depth reporting allowing you to offer customers and employees more innovative experiences.

2. How will you manage it now and into the future? Many organisations prefer an on-premise eSignature solution for security and compliance reasons. But they may want to go cloud in the future. Will the solution allow both or a hybrid approach? Companies in just about every industry also need to make sure they’re adhering to compliance regulations and taking the proper steps for risk mitigation. As such, an eSignature solution must provide audit trail capabilities and meet technical guidelines governing the use of eSignature around the world. The technology should also deliver substantial evidence of approval and adoption of a document’s contents and its binding, conclusive, non-repudiable character.

3. Will my customers and other users love it? This is important for employees and customers. With hybrid work modes here for the long haul, employees need to be able to create, send, track and sign documents and forms digitally. And it must be easy. For instance, a no-code, intuitive experience is essential to scale adoption and productivity across business units. From the customer’s perspective, ease-of-use is just as important, but they also want to engage from any location, on any device, so an omnichannel experience is a must.

4. Does it fit into intelligent automation? With so many organisations investing in intelligent automation platforms, integration is critical. Point solutions create disjointed automation siloes and hinder digital workflow transformation. An intelligent automation platform with eSignature capabilities and access to complementary automation technologies, such as robotic process automation and document intelligence, enables organisations to orchestrate entire business processes digitally.

With all these pieces of the puzzle in place, you can create faster contract completion, approval times and signing ceremonies, it’ll drive performance and speed up deals. But that’s just the start.

With automation, companies can also reduce the costs associated with manual, paper-based processes and redirect resources to higher-value tasks. eSignature integration with existing systems makes end-to-end digitisation possible across many use cases – including customer and employee onboarding, procurement, subscriptions, customer loan applications, and customer service.

A digital signature solution embedded into an Intelligent Automation platform will provide your organisation with high-quality signature capture today and support your larger digital transformation strategy. Don’t let a basic solution derail you.

Andy Mellor is Regional Vice President of Australia at Kofax.

Copyright © BIT (Business IT). All rights reserved.

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