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Streamlining the Signing Process With Electronic Signatures

With business stakeholders becoming increasingly mobile, it can be challenging to get a document in front of someone for signature or approval. Many industries are turning to electronic signatures, often building them into their enterprise content management (ECM) systems, as a more efficient and cost-effective way of obtaining those signatures.

There are two types of electronic signatures that are currently prevalent:

  1. A digital signature, which is a type of electronic signature that incorporates encryption and passwords
  2. Electronic or e-signatures, which more broadly includes any “electronic sound, symbol or process” used to sign an electronic transaction, according to The Electronic Signatures in Global and National Commerce Act

Both can save time, money and the resources associated with getting a hard copy of a document in front of someone to sign, but let’s look at what makes them work.

Digital Signatures

Larry Kluger, marketing manager at CoSign by Arx, explains how organizations are using digital signatures for customers, clients and other external signers. Instead of employing an outside service, they can use their own digital signature systems—as long as a couple of important conditions are met.

First, the signer must be properly authenticated. This is most easily accomplished in person, with appropriate identification, but there are some reliable ways to authenticate “remote signers.”

Second, there must be a way to certify that the remote signer really is the person who digitally signed the document. Kluger suggests having a staff member digitally sign the document, attesting to the validity of the first signature, or having the external signer use encrypted digital certificate technology (commonly used by third-party services).

Electronic signatures

The procedures that Kluger outlines, however, can seem cumbersome for frequent signatories. Wouldn’t it be easier to authenticate external signers once and input scanned signatures, official seals and initials into one central repository?

External signers could then be provided documents on a secure website and easily sign as required. Enter electronic signatures, which can be as legally binding as digital signatures provided the user is logged into their ECM system (the authentication) and that the ECM system records the signature action. This type of electronic signature even meets the strict requirements of FDA CFR 21 part 11.

OpenText™ Brava makes adding electronic signatures easy. Simply set up your signature once using either an image or choosing a script font to type it in electronically. Going forward, you can quickly and easily apply the signature, initials and even professional seals—a particularly useful feature for CAD users. When integrated to an ECM system, it alerts the system that the signing event has been completed so it can record it in the database.

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Christine Musil

Christine is in Product Marketing for Enterprise Content Management (ECM) solutions.

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