Upgrade Your Business by Switching to E-SignaturesJuly 23, 2020 No Comments
Featured article by D. A. Rupprecht, an internationally-based freelance writer
Signed contracts are the backbone of business and industry; and have been a part of commerce for literally thousands of years. But like any other business practice, the signed contract is due for an upgrade. Paper and ink contracts are on their way out. They can be difficult to wrangle, especially if your recipients are freelancers or small-time customers who may not have a printer, scanner, or FAX machine to print the contract out, sign it, and scan or FAX it back. Paper contracts also eat up valuable storage space, requiring expensive square footage and in some cases special climate control to store properly. Not to mention the challenge of keeping everything filed correctly.
That’s why many companies, up to 68% in some sectors and departments, are switching to electronic signatures. Originally pioneered by eOriginal SmartSign, digital signatures allow businesses to sign agreements easily and efficiently. Here are the reasons why you should consider making the switch for your own business or company.
Electronic signatures are resistant to tampering, sometimes even more so than paper and ink. Digital signatures cannot be forged; due to the fact that they’re generated by secure algorithms. As long as a signer’s private key remains secure, bad actors can’t hack a document and falsify a signature. Even if one tries, the signature won’t match with the public key and the document’s signature will be rejected.
Other options for digital signature incorporate security codes, SMS validation, verification questions, and even OFAC lookup. You can increase or decrease security as suits your own business, and be confident that no matter what method you choose, your documents are valid and safe.
Rather than having to print, sign, and then scan, FAX, or mail a contract, the signer simply needs to open the right program, make a few clicks, taps, or swipes, and email the document back. In many cases, the programs needed to e-sign a document come packaged with business software already, such as Adobe Acrobat or Microsoft Office. The drawback is these cases is that e-signatures only function on the proprietary file type: .pdf for Adobe and .docx or .xls for Microsoft.
However, other products, such as DocuSign or the already-mentioned eOriginal, come packaged with apps that allow your documents to reach customers who may not have access to a desktop or workstation. Even employees can use secure apps to easily sign and return documents using their mobile devices.
Courts in the United States have recognized the validity of e-signed documents for many years, with a few caveats. Some documents, such as wills, powers of attorney, or sworn statements, require notarization and cannot be e-signed. Other documents, such as those involved in health care or legal cases, require extra care that the sensitive information contained within is protected.
Territories outside the United States have different standards. For instance, India has a four-class system of distributing digital signature certificates, which must be applied for. Fortunately, most professional digital security products have the support structure necessary to help you understand how to create valid digital signatures when doing business internationally. When you’re weighing your options, keep in mind your legal obligations to your customers or clients, and make sure the company you’re dealing with can provide the requisite level of service.
Another benefit of a professional digital signature software product is the ease with which documents, in general, can be managed. If your document requires multiple signers, you can easily track who has signed (and if they’ve signed all the necessary pages). You can also restrict access to certain documents, protecting your business by ensuring only the right people can read potentially sensitive files.
You can even automate the document generation process in general, over the file’s entire lifecycle. Automate version control, redlining, revisions, and other changes made to your documents. As mentioned above, you can make sure that only authorized people can make necessary changes to important documents, and that each change needs proper approval before implementation.
Calendaring is often integrated into these products as well, ensuring you don’t miss important deadlines and get everything sent and received on time. Taken all together, these features help your business manage documents without having to invest too much time and effort into keeping your document pipelines clean.
Make sure to research all the products on the market before making your decision, and carefully weigh the advantages offered by each option against your business needs. Don’t let the march of progress leave you behind; e-sign is popular and will only grow wider in use.
About the Author
In addition to his advocacy work, D. A. Rupprecht is an internationally-based freelance writer who writes about the juxtaposition between technology and society. He has also written novels that address societal inequalityDATA and ANALYTICS , SECURITY, SOCIAL BUSINESS