Electronic Signatures are a Key Work-from-Home Technology
Some business processes are now completely automated, with approvals indicated by clicking a button within the application. Yet there still is a large number of processes that require actual, physical signatures on a piece of paper. When employees are working remotely, as many are now, handing someone a form to sign on the dotted line isn’t possible. Using electronic signatures allows workflows to complete even when physical signatures can’t be collected.
Kinds of Electronic Signatures
Some kinds of electronic signatures are appropriate for more casual circumstances, where you don’t need legal proof that the document was signed by the person whose name is on the form. For those situations, signing electronically can mean pasting in a scan of the person’s physical signature, a signature drawn with a mouse, or even just typing /s/ before typing the name of the person signing.
For situations that require a formal proof of signing authority, businesses should use a digital signature. This form of electronic signature uses a digital certificate, similar to the digital certificates used by websites, that includes public and private keys. The user signs with their private key, creating an encrypted signature. Since their public key decrypts the document, it’s proof that the signature was theirs.
Implementing Digital Signatures
Informal electronic signatures can be implemented simply by issuing a policy and defining the process to be followed by employees. Certificate-based digital signatures requires a technology solution to create the certificates.
One solution for digital signatures requires deploying tokens. Users are given a small device that’s used in conjunction with signing software. Another solution uses a cloud-based signing service that may already be integrated into existing applications and also provides an API to build integrations into other applications.
Uses of Electronic Signatures
Depending on your legal jurisdiction and industry, there may be certain types of documents where electronic signatures are not valid, but there’s a wide range of business processes where they can be used to streamline processes.
Given today’s work from home practices, human resources has a critical need for electronic signatures to complete the hiring and onboarding processes. Sales teams can get the paperwork to finalize a deal without needing a face-to-face client meeting; purchasing teams don’t need to meet with vendors. Of course, finance departments often need multiple levels of signatures to approve payments; this can all be handled remotely, too, using electronic signatures. Finally, any internal business process that requires manager approval can take advantage of electronic signatures.
Prescient Solutions helps businesses in Chicago and Schaumburg with all their business needs. Our team can help you assess your work processes to identify where electronic signatures are applicable and then help you implement and support the necessary technology. Contact us to learn more about how our IT consulting services can help you implement a secure digital signature process.