Top 5 Tips for Implementing Electronic Signature Software
Even though we’re already in the year 2016, some CIOs still feel that they are in the year 2000. In a review of the top strategic CIO issues for 2016 in Forbes Magazine, a few CIOs, including General Electric CIO Jim Fowler, agreed that evangelizing the power of digital business is still one of their top strategic issues. Within the field of contract management, electronic signature software is a powerful digital tool that many enterprises within the field still haven’t adopted. Let’s review a couple of tips to make the implementation of e-signature more agile and streamlined for your enterprise.
- Educate About the Legality of Electronic Signatures
As the survey of CIOs revealed, one of the main challenges in implementing electronic signature software is the myth that, unlike their physical counterparts, digital signatures aren’t enforceable. It’s the job of the person spearheading an e-signature initiative to educate staff that the European Union (EU) approved the EU Directive for Electronic Signatures in 1999 and the United States passed the Electronic Signatures in Global and National Commerce Act (ESIGN) in 2000. This means that digital signatures have been legally enforceable for more than 16 years in the U.S.! Just this tidbit of knowledge can help realize the urgency of catching up with a well-established contract process.
- Turn a Business Need into a Technical Delivery
When a business person and an IT person sit down to discuss a potential technology project, the IT person may bog down the business one with a barrage of questions, ranging from security to data storage to two-factor authentication. By listing too many obstacles, the IT person is unintentionally turning the conversation away from “how are we going to do this” to “why we don’t need to do this”. When faced with too many barriers to an urgent business need, a business person will likely go around the IT department and utilize any solution that is conveniently available.
When too many contract managers start using e-signature solutions that don’t “talk” with existing contract management systems or e-signature software used by other departments, a mess is in the making. Prevent a potential big problem by letting staff know that the IT department will take care of the project. From the start, allow your IT department to take over the digital signature project.
- Do a Complete Gathering of Requirements
Still, the IT department will have to perform its due diligence by talking with all departments and figure out all the technological requirements. Facilitate this process by designating a representative from all relevant departments so that the requirement gathering is not disruptive of regular operations. Also, include a representative from your legal department so that IT staff is aware of all applicable compliance issues.
- Dive Into Current Signature Processes
It’s very worthwhile to sit down and talk with the people currently responsible for the logistics of gathering signatures. While a director or vice president may not be necessarily available, their secretary or personal assistant is more likely to be. Discuss with those key stakeholders about the current process and review the physical documents that are signed to develop an adequate understanding of the formatting requirements of the digital signature software.
- Develop a Pilot Program and Present Results
By initially limiting the impact of potential issues to a certain area, you’re setting yourself for success. A soft launch with a pilot program is necessary to iron out any issues with digital storage, security, and compliance. More importantly, a pilot program empowers you to present results for the rest of staff taking part of the official launch.
Part of the evangelization process of any software is to keep a project accountable by addressing challenges and celebrating milestones. For example, across the state of Hawaii it is believed that only between 10% and 15% of companies are leveraging digital signature software. However, the State of Hawaii Executive Branch has processed more than 22,000 documents since the January 2016 launch of its digital signature initiative, according to Chief Information Officer (CIO) Todd Nacapuy.
If your company achieves a target or completely blows it out of the water, let your stakeholders know and thank them. This creates a virtuous cycle, which builds up goodwill for all future technological implementation projects.