Transforming business with eContracts

OneSpan Team,

At the heart of every business transaction lies the contract. Contracts are a foundational part of doing business, but managing contracts can be complex because they often involve internal and external stakeholders in various locations and even jurisdictions. Simplifying and streamlining the contracting process is one of the top reasons for adopting electronic documents and contracts (eContracts).

Beyond streamlining the contract management process, going digital minimizes the risks associated with the traditional paper-based system and paves the way for more efficient, secure, and environmentally responsible business operations.

Industries like financial services, healthcare, insurance, real estate, manufacturing, and others have all found ways to integrate electronic signatures into the unique demands of their contracting processes. In fact, adopting eContracts and eSignatures has been a game-changer for many businesses, enabling them to cut contract cycle times and increase efficiency.

Le Grand Hopital de Charleroi is a good example. Since 2011, the hospital’s IT department has been using eSignatures to accelerate approvals on purchase orders, invoices, and service contracts. Prior to eSignatures, it was difficult to get timely sign-offs from hospital managers, who are often in meetings or offsite. This delayed delivery of urgent supplies. The IT team knew that if they could accelerate the process, the goods the organization needed would be delivered sooner and put to use faster.

“Now, I get an email on my smartphone requesting I sign a document, and I eSign immediately,” says Nicolas Depasse, the hospital’s assistant director of IT.

Addressing the legality of contract automation

To achieve the full benefits of digital transformation – speed, auditability, security, cost savings, and operational efficiency – the creation, signing, and maintenance of electronic contracts needs to take place through digital means. Contracting parties and signers can complete the entire process without printed documents or ink signatures.

This is supported by legal frameworks worldwide; digital agreements are as much of a legally binding agreement as a paper-based contract. From purchase orders and sales agreements to retail finance contracting, legally binding eContracts of all kinds have even been challenged and stood up in court. In the United States, the Electronic Signatures in Global and National Commerce Act (ESIGN Act) and Uniform Electronic Transactions Act (UETA), alongside the European Union’s Electronic Identification, Authentication and Trust Services (eIDAS) regulation, affirm the legal standing of electronic records and signatures in commerce.

The case for change: Benefits of eContracts

Adopting electronic agreements offers numerous advantages. Reducing paper consumption streamlines operations and promotes a greener business model. It also provides significant time and cost savings as it removes the need for physical meetings and mailings.

Digital tools facilitate faster contract creation, easier editing, and secure storage. Security and compliance features of eContracts and eSignatures – such as encryption, authentication, digital signatures, audit trails, and white-labeling – offer enhanced protection. For example, electronic signatures enhance document security through features like digital signatures ensure document integrity and make electronic documents tamper-evident.

Additionally, the convenience of accessing documents remotely and integrating with other digital systems provides unparalleled flexibility and efficiency.

A compelling case study illustrating these benefits is NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), which implemented e-contracting. With a paper-intensive contracting process, JPL adopted OneSpan Sign so its procurement packages could remain electronic from requisition to close-out. This move not only slashed time for internal signature approvals from weeks to days, but also resulted in an initial savings of $30,000 in one department alone.

The transformation enabled JPL to manage thousands of contracts annually with greater productivity, handling a high volume of contracts more efficiently. Digital transformation revolutionized their contract management by improving workflow efficiency, facilitating file management, and enhancing data access, significantly reducing costs and environmental impact while supporting their mobile and remote workforce. The success at JPL showcases the transformative potential of eContracts and is a compelling argument for their broader adoption across industries.

In a similar successful transition from paper to digital processes, one large bank, the Bank of Montreal, assigned a value of 8 cents to each piece of paper printed within their organization. Doing this helped their digitization team convince management to invest and prioritize their paperless initiative. This approach also helped create a set of parameters for measuring before and after digitization: productivity and compliance improvement, cost reduction, and customer satisfaction.

At a time when businesses across all industries are looking to cut costs and increase productivity, converting from paper contracts to digital format is a fast way to achieve these results.

Real-world advantages of electronic contracts

Though traditional contracts have been the standard, the digital transition provides agility and security that paper cannot match.

While the City of North Las Vegas implemented eSignature technology for signing official city documents, it also uses the technology to sign off on contracts for all goods and services it procures, and for all purchase orders in excess of $10,000. All documents signed on behalf of the City require at least two signatures, and many require three, says North Las Vegas City Clerk Catherine Raynor. The City has set up its eSignature use to support both digitized hand-scripted signatures and click-to-sign or tap-to-sign signatures.

This saves time and improves operational efficiency, Raynor says. “The City manager is on the go constantly, but she can easily see and sign documents via her phone, iPad, etc.”

City officials also appreciate that the software lets them track and record all necessary data about signers on each document, for auditing and contract law purposes.

eContracting and electronic signatures

Transitioning to eContracting is a comprehensive process that extends beyond selecting software. It involves integrating digital solutions into current systems and change management training for staff. This strategic move requires evaluating business needs, exploring solutions, and implementing a platform that enables scalability, security, and legal compliance.

A prime example is TUI Group, the world's largest leisure, travel, and tourism company, which embraced eSignatures to enforce B2B contracts effectively. Prior to using OneSpan Sign, TUI Group faced challenges with the enforceability of its online contracts with travel agency partners.

By adopting OneSpan Sign, TUI not only streamlined the process of capturing signatures online, making contracts legally binding and reducing financial risk, but also demonstrated significant efficiency gains.

The solution allowed for contracts to be sent en masse, with 750 contracts dispatched by a single employee in a single transaction. OneSpan Sign also simplified the signing process for TUI’s business partners, who could sign on any device. This initiative shows how a scalable, secure, and compliant digital solution can transform operations, as evidenced by TUI's plan to expand eSignatures across various company functions and use cases that traditionally used physical signatures, such as HR and accounting.

Adopting electronic contracting is a decisive step for businesses aiming to enhance operational efficiency, security, and environmental responsibility. The benefits of e-signing contracts—streamlined processes, faster turnaround time, reduced costs, improved security, and a smaller ecological footprint—present a compelling case for adoption.

As the business world continues to adopt digital solutions, integrating electronic signatures with contract management software emerges as a key strategy for success, marking a new chapter in operational efficiency and competitiveness. This digital transition streamlines business processes and contributes to a more sustainable future.

Transform your eContract management today. Sign up for the OneSpan Sign free trial and see how easy it is to eSign a contract in minutes. OneSpan Sign provides a full stack of capabilities to drive efficiency when signing contracts, such as templates, layouts, reports, reminders and expirations, dashboards, serial and parallel signing, and more.

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