E-Signatures: Streamlining Contract Management

During the training camp of TEAM USA basketball for the 2012 Olympic Games, history was made in contract management. Point guard Deron Williams signed a $98 million contract to rejoin the Brooklyn Nets using not a fancy ink pen but his finger on a tablet. Williams tweeted a photo of himself signing the contract. As this example shows, e-signing tools represent a high-tech and much-needed response to the vast inefficiencies of dealing with physical signatures; the Brooklyn Nets were able to safely complete a multi-million dollar transaction with Williams while he was training in Las Vegas.

While signing a contract digitally may appear as something new, it has actually been around for over a decade.

Evaluating E-signatures

In June 2000, President Clinton used a smart card encrypted with his digital signature to “e-sign” the Electronic Signatures in Global and National Commerce Act into law. The ESIGN Act was created with the intent of empowering customers to buy a car, get life insurance or take out a mortgage without the need to sign and mail paper documents. Because of the clauses included to protect the consumer, corporations have the ability to entirely computerize the process of signing contracts to buy and sell products and services.

Even though more contracts are signed digitally every day, there are still some critiques about this practice. For example, Forbes contacted Dallas-based attorney Kyle Carton about Williams’ contract and said, “While it may be ‘legal’ for Mr. Williams to sign a digital copy, if he was my client, I would still have strongly advised signing a paper copy to remove any opportunity for gray area disputes in the future. Especially on a contract of this size.”

Nonetheless, the fact is that courts take e-signatures just as seriously as signatures made using a pen and paper. In an interview with PCWorld, Louisiana attorney Andrew Legrand pointed out that it’s important to recognize that federal judges use digital signatures on all of their orders. This means that the federal courts are paperless. “When a judge ‘signs’ an order, they use PDF software to place an electronic stamp of their signature onto the order,” explains Legrand. He closes the argument by asking, “Would the federal courts be using electronic signatures if they thought they carried any less weight than a handwritten signature?”

E-signatures Streamline Contract Management

In today’s economy, companies are focused on cutting costs and maximizing revenue. That is precisely why savvy business managers know that they need to leverage the latest technologies to close contracts faster. When implementing an enterprise contract management system, it may seem that you would have to first choose the system and later on figure out how to incorporate an e-signature solution later. Fortunately, that is not the case. Contract Logix’s contract management software embeds Sertifi’s electronic signature program within its cloud-based system, providing customers with a complete on-demand esignature solution for automating the contract approval process through its lifecycle. The U.S. Air Force is one of Sertifi’s customers as well, and the organization saves about $9,000 per month