5 E-Signature Basics to Get Your Project Started

Mary Ellen Power, April 28, 2015

Electronic signatures are fairly simple to deploy and easy to use. However, the newness of the technology can leave many businesses worried about how the solution will impact them. That said, an effective e-signature deployment can help organizations revolutionize their records and contract management processes. With this in mind, let's ease some of the concerns you may have about e-signature technology so that you will be ready to take full advantage of the technology.

These five basic elements of electronic signatures will give you the core information you need to assuage your concerns about the technology and get a project off on the right foot:

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1. E-signatures and digital signatures are different
Terminology is extremely important in the e-signature sector. Different terms are often used interchangeably - even electronic signature can mean many different things depending on context - and you need to be sure you understand exactly what you are getting into so you can be prepared for legal purposes.

The difference between e-signatures and digital signatures is one of the biggest stumbling blocks organizations face. The distinction is fairly simple, however - e-signatures capture the users intent, digital signatures protect the signing process and the electronic file in a variety of ways, primarily by encrypting the data pertaining to the e-signature.

2. Not all e-signatures are equal
When somebody signs an online petition electronically and when someone completes a thorough e-contract process to verify intent are both situations that are labeled as e-signatures. However, these e-signatures do not hold the same weight in court. Make sure you are using advanced or enhanced e-signatures - those provided by dedicated software providers - and you won't have anything to worry about from a legal perspective.

3.Signing processes aren't set in stone
Deploying an e-signature solution doesn't lock you into specific signing methodologies. You aren't committing to some sort of rigid signing framework when you choose a solution. Instead, electronic signature technologies let you customize the signing process based on your specific user groups. This freedom empowers you to optimize signing for different internal and external users, leading to significant value creation across a wide range of processes.

4. Electronic signatures are accessible on mobile devices
Leading e-signature solution providers have optimized their devices to make them accessible using various mobile device interfaces. This may sound like a fairly simple, straightforward capability, but in reality, it is an extremely important component of any e-signature strategy. Mobile device use is becoming more prominent across a wide range business operations, and organizations that empower their users to take advantage of mobile functionality can position themselves to establish innovative processes that impact end users. Making e-signatures available on smartphones and tablets eliminates many of the barriers to large-scale mobility projects in the enterprise.

5. E-signatures are viable in almost every industry
Specific regulations/permissions for e-signature use have been developed for sectors ranging from international trade and government to health care and real estate. Organizations in just about every sector can use e-signatures for the vast majority of contract types. The legal and regulatory barriers for e-signature use have all but disappeared, and businesses can take advantage of these development to eliminate paper-based contracts and wet signatures in entirety.

Electronic signatures are getting more popular all the time, and organizations leveraging the technology are finding success using the solution to eliminate the expenses and process limitations create by paper-based contracting.

Having all of this basic information on hand is useful, but you probably want to take a deeper dive into how e-signatures work and what they can do for you before committing to use the technology. Check out our FAQ resource to get the answers you need.