Electronic Workflow

An E-Signature: the Key to a Secure Document Workflow

Why are electronic signatures the last barrier to a paperless office?

Electronic signatures can provide additional efficiency of agreements, but their implementation remains slow.
Hybrid work requires digital workflows for all processes. It can be video calls instead of meetings or live online documents for simultaneous collaboration. But signature commonly ends all the transactions and contracts, remaining the last step to leaving the analog office.

Enterprises are increasingly moving from paper-based manual workflows to cloud-based ones. 
Digital technologies affected office life all over the world. Fast-growing startups hire and introduce new employees; banks acquire virtual clients; global pharmaceutical companies create networks of healthcare providers for a vaccination program. In each case, electronic signatures have become a significant factor.

The Pen matters

So far, the implementation of the electronic signature has been slow since the technology is much more complex than it may seem. Different legal requirements for diverse use cases mean that modern solutions are usually cumbersome and expensive. It often makes them the last step on the way to a fully digital office.

According to IDC TechBrief 2020, only one in three companies uses electronic signatures. The pandemic and the forced shift to remote work have changed the situation since the paperwork has sharply decreased in parallel with the removal from the physical office. While it should have encouraged the use of electronic signatures, many businesses still rely on cumbersome solutions, such as signature cards with reader devices, printers, and scanners. They are still prevalent in our home offices.

However, there is a better way – an integration of electronic signature functions into existing collaboration platforms is crucial to ensure that enterprises can work without resorting to complex manual approval chains and analog paper methods.

The content counts too

First, let's look at the importance of content for business. Simply put, content is an inherent value of the company. There are a lot of companies whose document content is highly confidential or of great importance. Content is the entire work of an organization, and it is unique for each company. Content is a database of its most valuable ideas.

But to effectively realize this value, organizations need to find a single place for their content. The separation of content between different repositories and applications creates friction that can prevent employees from accessing and sharing information, hindering innovation and productivity.

The ease of application integration with other technologies is quite essential in the modern content-oriented world. As a result, companies are turning to unified platforms where content can be safely stored and managed while meeting all compliance requirements and where all teams have the opportunity to collaborate on content both internally and externally.

The platforms with integrated e-signature capabilities help to avoid additional friction that interrupts the 'content lifecycle'. For example, a contract bouncing through mailboxes can create many difficulties, starting with version control and editing and ending with signatures. The integration of electronic signatures into the platform will create a smoother workflow from start to finish, eliminating the possibility of errors or data loss.

Security implications of integration

Integrated electronic signatures that are legally compatible and legally binding should be a fundamental element of the content cloud platforms. At the same time, these solutions should provide businesses with the opportunity to define a central, unified information security and management guide throughout the content distribution path. In this case, an electronic signature does not mean that mentioned solutions certified for security or compliance with the requirements are legally equivalent to advanced electronic signatures.

When choosing an electronic signature solution for your company, it is important to look for a technology that is easy to use and meets the highest security standards. It should be simple and intuitive for your users but also very security-oriented to protect your content. As part of this focus on security, companies should define a single, consistent information security and management policy for the entire content distribution process, in which electronic signatures should fit.

The user interface should also be native and simple – there is no point in choosing a solution that requires more complex workflows and steps. Eliminating manual tasks is key, and omnichannel's offerings (any device, any browser) will naturally work more smoothly. The solution must also support multiple document formats to ensure a consistent approach across the entire business.

A complete content journey is crucial

Displaying electronic signatures directly in the cloud platform provides many advantages. Signatures can be executed in a legally secure way, even when remote employees or partners work together on documents, and the business increases ROI and efficiency by eliminating cumbersome and expensive solutions for qualified signatures.

When choosing the right platform, it is important to ensure that the processes run as smoothly as possible. The most important points here are security, collaboration, productivity – and integration with other best-of-its-kind tools for communication and collaboration.

The original article Electronic signatures: please sign on the digital line was written by Sebastien Marotte. If you find our articles interesting, you can subscribe here; we will be pleased to get feedback.