Want a quick tip to reduce your overhead costs and increase efficiency while offering convenience and security to customers? Consider using e-signatures in your business transactions.
If you are new to e-signatures or are unsure about how they can help your business, then here are some important facts you should know.
The Leap to Online Signatures
Most people these days have been exposed to some form of electronic document signing. If you have ever clicked on “I agree” during an Internet-based transaction, you were unwittingly using an e-signature. But, while it may make sense for an Internet-based business to have an electronic way to sign off on transactions, it makes just as much sense for brick and mortar businesses as well.
Contracts, work orders, purchase orders and other signed documents are an intrinsic part of business operations. With traditional “wet ink” signatures, a single document can take days to process, with more than 10 steps between the release and filing of a document. It’s one of those day-to-day, indispensable business processes that we’ve just come to expect and accept. Electronic signatures upgrade this process in several fundamental ways, helping businesses to save a substantial amount of time and money.
But before getting to the cost savings, let’s first answer two important questions…
Are E-Signatures Legally Binding?
In a word, yes. On June 30, 2000, the United States Congress passed a federal law to facilitate the use of electronic records and electronic signatures in interstate and global commerce. They produced the Electronic Signatures in Global and National Commerce Act, a piece of legislation that basically ensures the validity and legal effect of contracts entered into electronically.
Are E-Signatures Safe to Use for Business Transactions?
Though it may seem exceptionally simplistic from the end user’s standpoint, the technology behind e-signatures is anything but that. From document transmission to signature capture and validation, the entire process uses several advanced encryption and security protocols, such as biometric phone authentication, timestamps, recorded IP addresses, one-time passwords, and knowledge-based authentication, to ensure that sensitive data is always safe. These multiple levels of authentication help to verify the identity and intent of each signer as well as the integrity of documents needing to be signed.
Moreover, all this authentication helps to keep would be hackers at bay. The chance of fraud is reduced because of the likelihood that hackers would leave behind a traceable, digital footprint.
The bottom line is that so much effort has been put into ensuring the security of e-signature signed documentation that in many ways it is safer than good ol’ fashioned ink signatures.
How Using E-signatures Can Save Your Business Some Real Money
Now let’s get to the meat and potatoes of this topic… There is a lot of time and money that can be saved by incorporating the use of e-signatures for some or all of your business transactions. Here are the top ways electronic signatures can help you conserve resources and contain costs:
Make the document signing process more efficient.
Using an online signature service is simple. After creating your forms distribution is as easy as entering the recipient’s email address. Signatures can be applied using a computer, tablet or smartphone for added convenience; listing and prioritizing multiple addresses means you can maintain the proper signature order; and automated delivery ensures that every party receives a copy of the form once the process is complete. All of this reduces the time and expenses involved in creating, maintaining and documenting the signature capture process.
Simplified document archiving and retrieval.
Electronic signature services provide tools for auditing documents and tracking the signature process, and ultimately provide an easy way for businesses to file and maintain archives of important documents. Through integration with existing digital document management systems, you can reduce the amount of time and space needed to file, retrieve or maintain documents. Instead of searching through banks of filing cabinets or warehouses, you can simply search the database and retrieve a file in seconds. Automated backups and cloud server integration provide security in the event of hardware failure or data corruption to make sure important documents are always available.
Stop paying to get documentation to and from signers.
Where the signers of a document are remotely located, getting a document signed in ink may mean couriers and registered mail, which can cost upwards of $30 per round-trip to get each document signed. Alternatively, there may be the cost of gas and the expended time needed to travel to a signer’s location.
Reduce office expenses.
No more printing, collating, and scanning signed documents. This means reducing your paper and ink consumption as well as the need for printers, scanners and faxes, and with less to store you may end up needing less office space too.
Eliminate costly errors.
Because e-signatures offer a simple way to track the progress of any documents, they also significantly reduce errors, such as misplacing documents, sending the wrong documentation to the wrong people, not properly recording document signature information. Such errors could lead to costly legal problems down the road- especially in a situation where a signed document is being contested.
In short, e-signature services are definitely something to look into if you are running a small business and frequently require signed documentation. There is a tremendous amount of cost savings and other benefits if you e-sign on the dotted line.