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Authored by Paul Gorman, Account Executive, ImageSoft

There are not many IT activities as pointless as making a process ‘paperless’ and then printing a document at the end of that process so that you can get a wet signature on the paper.  The two primary benefits of paperless technology are to avoid time delays and expense caused by using paper to capture transactions.  Despite the obvious fact that two of the paperless benefits are lost when a wet signature process is used, the practice continues in many agencies today.  Agencies are left with paper files that often have to be scanned and then shredded or, worse, stored in cabinets and archives. 

The practice of scanning what had been a digital document prior to printing just highlights the absurdity of this practice.

A Journey Through Unique eSigning Experiences

There have been archives of content written about digitally signing documents at agencies, but most of that content overlooks the most obvious fact: not every agency signature process is the same, so how can a single type of electronic signature solution be the best fit? 

Failing to address all your signature processes makes the solution nothing but a Band-Aid.  It sounds absurd to have to say this, but it is a best practice at agencies to address all of their signature processes. 

Let’s look at a couple of different processes to see the differences:

Capturing a vendor signature from outside the office: This is the most common example often used to justify the implementation of electronic signature technologies.  In this example, we need a technology that will digitally transmit the documents to be signed to the signatory, capture the signature electronically, and enable the signatory to return the signed documents to the sender.  An ideal solution would include the signing event within contracting, purchasing or transaction processing technology so that the process of sending and receiving the documents to be signed is just a continuation of the business process.

The most common practice for this type of signature process is to use a commercial product like DocuSign and connect it to the DMS workflow process.  For example, the OnBase Integration for DocuSign eSignature allows you to electronically obtain signatures from people outside of your organization by providing complete management of processes that require secure, electronic signatures in the Cloud. The integration manages the signature cycle within OnBase by automatically packaging documents and relevant signer information, sending this information securely to DocuSign, and collecting the completed documents.

The OnBase integration module, however, is only part of the solution – we also need a license for a DocuSign signer and a large collection of envelopes.  The price point for these solutions may be ideal for a real estate transaction or large contract, but many agencies have very high-volume transactions where signature capture is needed.  If you are in one of those agencies, I already know that you are not using this technology.  It is not priced for capturing tenant or client signatures at, for example, a Public Housing or Social Service agency.  Refills at $9 per envelope (based upon some quotes I have seen) make this a non-starter for social service or, frankly, any high-volume transaction.

I have a solution for this, but keep reading because that issue involves just one of the types of signature processes that agencies have to solve.  Consider this different example:

Capturing a vendor signature at your office: Let’s contrast the previous process with the same contractor sitting across from you at your desk or in a conference room.  Capturing a vendor signature while they are in your office is a very different event.  Transmitting a document to be signed would require the signatory to leave and go to their office, or log into their computer or smart phone from your office.  A much smarter technology would be to capture the vendor’s signature on a signature pad in your office.  The ideal process would include capturing a signature as a part of the larger automated business process.

In the past, the best practice solution for this type of signature process is to integrate signature pads as peripheral hardware into the document management system (DMS).  In OnBase, yet another module is required.  The integration to Twain Signature Pad Interface electronically captures signatures, allowing users to sign documents within the DMS. The ability to sign documents in real-time can accelerate many business processes, including approvals, order receipt or policy acknowledgement. Signatures are permanently burned onto the document, providing a secure and unalterable record of the captured document signature.

DocuSign does not address this type of signature event.  Again, I do have a solution, but keep reading to learn about the third type of signature process we need to solve.

The Internal Signature Capture: Internal approval processes present another type of challenge.  I think you can separate internal approvals that require signatures from those in which the approval event just needs to be captured.  Most internal approval processes that require internal signatures do not require external signatures.  Why use an expensive DocuSign transaction just for an internal signature?

Also, if you are capturing an internal signature, it is often a frequent event.  Having witnessed supervisors spending significant time approving internal process requests with wet signatures, I can state that finding ways to eliminate or reduce the difficulty of these signatures is a quick win that can provide organizations with significant time savings for some of the most expensive staff, since the signers are usually senior level management.  

In the past, a best practice solution is to provide digital signature technology which allows users to digitally sign documents to ensure their authenticity and integrity.  The OnBase Digital Signatures module (yes yet another OnBase module is required) uses cryptographic procedures to determine whether a document has changed in any way since the signature was applied, making certain the document remains secure and unaltered. Through its tight integration with OnBase Workflow, digital signatures can be applied as an additional validation measure during any approval process.

Have You Been Keeping Score?

If so, you know that we have three OnBase modules required and a third-party hardware peripheral (a Signature Pad), and a third-party license for DocuSign all to address the three primary types of signatures that almost every organization in the world needs to make electronic – Cumbersome! 

But wait!  I want to introduce you to a new product: ImageSoft’s Cloud-Based TrueSign solution.

If It Sounds Too Good To Be True, It’s Probably TrueSign

A stand-alone product, TrueSign integrates with several applications to empower users with seamless uploads of contracts, motions, claims and all other documents into their database of choice, directly from their device (which could be a laptop, tablet or smartphone). And thanks to our pre-built OnBase configuration, leveraging TrueSign in OnBase environments is even easier.

  • Each uploaded file or case is then presented in an envelope-style roster for 360-degree visibility into all signing projects. Hosted in the highly secure Microsoft Azure Cloud, TrueSign’s cloud-services environment meets you where you are for efficient and compliant document management.
  • With your document front and center, simply use your finger, phone stylus or signature pad to eSign your documents. Users can also stamp a pre-set digital signature to electronically edit and autograph even faster.  The time of endorsement, titles and other identifiers are attached to signatures. Full audit trails support compliance efforts and safeguard proxy signing. 
  • Compatible with mobile devices and mapped with “sign here” flags, users don’t have to scroll through numerous, condensed screens to find the dotted line — simply stamp your eSignature in the pre-posted areas. And, depending on how much time you have, mobile users can continue configuring the document with stamps, shapes, redactions and more.
  • Once signing is complete, users save a copy of their document to his/her device as the workflow kicks in, automatically delivering the endorsed documents back into your integrated system.

TrueSign supports all three types of the signature processes discussed above, and can be priced for internal and external signatures. Best yet, it’s affordable for high-volume signature processes and is enterprise capable on a secure Azure platform. 

This is now the best practice for digital signatures – the comparison to others is not even close.