Primary Use Case for Digital Signatures

June 4th, 2014

Good candidates for signature capture are:

  • Everywhere, where documents must be signed at multiple locations or regularly signed in significant volumes;
  • Quality-control applications are common in research and manufacturing operations where procedures must be approved regularly with physical signatures;
  • Many businesses have customers or drivers picking up merchandise at a storefront or from a warehouse, or when merchandise is delivered to a customer;
  • Collecting approvals across multiple locations;
  • Collecting documents from field staff which require a signature;
  • Signing service reports in many service industries;
  • Sales and Customer Acquisition Documents – i.e., client contracts, proposals, customer service contracts, term sheets, customer applications, customer agreements, enrollments;
  • Human Resources Documents – i.e., employee benefit enrollment, employment applications, benefit change forms, time sheets, performance reviews, expense reports
  • Legal Documents – i.e., contracts, agreements, change orders, contractor agreements
  • Finance/Accounting Documents – i.e., lease agreements, expense reports, tax filings, disbursements
  • Procurement Documents – i.e., purchase agreements, purchase orders, contract amendments
  • And so on…

According to Forrester Research (Nov 2011) four primary use case areas have emerged that cover the majority of enterprise requirements for e-signatures:

  1. Mediated. The focus here is on human support. The mediator is an enterprise representative who works in the field, call center, or line of business and serves as a human link between the customer and the business processes, such as helping fill in information on forms, reviewing inprocess transactions, and coordinating the signing process. The mediator often handles money transfers, while the business process places a high value on client trust and supports strong legal and compliance requirements. Mediators like insurance agents, financial advisors, and mortgage brokers work with externally facing processes to help clients and help close complex, high-value transactions that require signatures by multiple parties.
  2. Unmediated. This use case focuses on the transaction; the supporting business processes leverage the Web and mobile channels to support customers and depend on a reliable set of system-led interactions to complete a transaction. Unlike the mediated use case, people are not required to fulfill a transaction; however, they stay in the background to handle exceptions, provide technical support, and maintain current content on the site. Transactions involve payment, transfer of positions, account servicing, education, and e-voting, but tend to be higher volume and more commoditized than the mediated use case.
  3. Third-party contracts. Processes in this use case focus on high-value contracts — often one-shot deals — between the enterprise and its external business partners and providers. But unlike the mediated and unmediated segments, third-party contracts are not directed at core enterprise customers. For example, contracts like building leases are high-value, can involve multiple parties, and must be legally binding, but the volume of contracts is not particularly high.
  4. Internal employees. The internal employee signature use case, which is somewhat overlooked, involves the efficiency of internal operations. For example, clinical trials in life sciences require researchers to validate steps in the testing process. E-signatures provide control over the process and the ability to track its compliance with regulations. One life science company implemented a digital signature process that saved $750,000 over five years.3 Manufacturing has a number of processes that require internal workers to sign off on individual tasks. Administrative tasks also may require a verifiable agreement with employees for various HR and internal compliance applications, like employee sign-off for Sarbanes-Oxley revenue reporting, employment applications and agreements, personal history statements, and offer letters.
Print Friendly