3 Steps to E-Signature Deployment

Mary Ellen Power, June 4, 2014
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Investing in electronic signature software can unlock incredible process gains for businesses in many industries. However, transitioning to support e-signatures also represents a significant challenge as it forces companies to take on major records management and procedural changes. This doesn't mean that organizations should reconsider an e-signature investment just because they may run into a few hurdles along the way, but it does mean that an organization should carefully plan its deployment strategy and make sure it is prepared to take a clear, tactical path to long-term electronic signature use.

While there may be some challenges in developing an e-signature plan, these three steps can help you get any effort off on the right foot:

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1. Find the right partner

Many e-signature providers can meet the needs of different industries, but some are especially experienced in different markets, or are at least more aware of the regulatory and operational challenges that will face organizations in certain sectors. Deploying e-signatures is not just a matter of installing new software. As such, you need a partner, not just a software provider, to support your efforts. A vendor who is able to help you find the best way to use e-signature technologies, anticipate any challenges you may face during deployment or otherwise help you get a project off on the right foot can be an invaluable asset.

2. Establish your process framework

At it's core, an electronic signature is a process. It is not just the specific mouse click or touch screen signature that a person puts on an electronic form. Instead, it is a record of what an individual does when accessing the website or application that contains the form. In many cases, the process recorded may start with the login, then document every page the person views once logged in, record how much time is spent reading each form, how far the individual scrolled through agreements, any fields in forms that were filled out and then the actual signature. This entire process is recorded and transmitted to its destination with a digital signature that encrypts the file and ensures its authenticity.

Businesses have room to customize this process based on their needs, allowing them to fine tune everything from how long the process takes to which functions need to be completed. The point of this isn't just to verify that a person signed something, but also to identify how much time a person spent on the various tasks involved with the signature. This knowledge can help a contract hold up in the court of law because it can add credence to an argument, for example, that somebody had an opportunity to understand what he or she was signing because he or she spent ample time reading a specific electronic document. Such records can prove invaluable and the right process framework can add legal validity to an e-signature.

3. Test the process

Thorough testing is integral to having a good e-signature solution in place for end users. E-signatures deal so frequently with sensitive and private data that they need to work perfectly the moment they are put into use. As such, effective pilot projects and testing initiatives play a critical role in making sure a company has fine tuned the solution to work properly within its IT configuration and work environment.

A glitch or error with an e-signature platform may not be disastrous, but there is plenty of room for problems if the system is not deployed well. As such, effective testing is a critical component of success with a project.

Check out our "Is Your Company Ready for E-Signatures?" webcast to get more advice on how to get your solution off the ground effectively.