There’s no doubt that the term “paperless office” has been circulating in the office culture for over a decade. Back in the early 2000s, digital document technology was just gaining traction, but not yet affordable or mainstream. When the federal ESIGN act was signed into law in 2000, it paved the way for electronic records and signatures. By confirming that electronic records and signatures carry the same weight and have the same legal effect as traditional paper documents, commerce had the ability to go paperless. Fast forward to 2020, and you will find a cloud software landscape with dozens, if not hundreds, of options to create and manage electronic documents and signatures.
While many organizations have adopted some degree of e-forms and digital/electronic signatures, the changes that Covid-19 has brought make digital document processing a necessity, not a luxury. Digital signature applications are great as standalone applications. Most now integrate into almost any line of business application and have native functionality in everything from Salesforce and CRM systems to electronic health record systems. As we explore more ways to adapt to more widespread remote workforces, let’s look at how necessary e-forms and digital signatures are.
Replacing Paper Documents
Pushing paper documents such as NDAs and contracts or HIPAA and medical consent forms is inefficient, and in some ways not compliant in today’s digital workplace. The cost implications can add up, especially when skilled workers are bottlenecked with tedious tasks. According to a 2019 study conducted by Forrester (on behalf of Adobe Sign), statistics revealed that the paper signature lifecycle can take up to 1.5 hours per document transaction. They go on to arrive at an ROI of 420% in some cases.
Inefficient Paper-oriented Cycles
Let’s assume that the paper signature lifecycle time is as referenced above in Forrester’s data. We can conservatively assume that 1.5 hours is needed in a typical paper-based signature process. This includes the print, route, follow up, sign, and route to the other signer. If an Admin role had to complete one of these per day, it would add up to 30 hours per month or $900 per month ($30/hr fully-loaded Admin cost according to the study) just in signature capture and routing. That’s $10,800 per year per admin. For organizations still using paper and ink, there some costs to recoup here as well. With the low licensing cost of most e-sign applications, it’s easy to see where the 420% ROI can be recognized. Scale this across many roles and roles with higher compensation levels, and you can see the cost benefits balloon.
Increasing Productivity with Paperless Processes
Also, consider the productivity benefits of freeing your team to focus on revenue-generating or cost-saving activities. By providing the ability to sign documents or contracts digitally, you are saving the recipient the difficulty of printing, signing, and scanning or faxing back to you. Overall, it makes doing business with your organization easier, especially in the wake of Covid-19, with people working from home who may not have scanners or fax capabilities.
Go Remote and Leave Paper Behind
In addition to the cost benefits, let’s relate this to remote workforces. As many organizations adapt to remote work in the midst of Covid-19, the need for getting signatures remotely is acute. Fax lines are growing obsolete, and the speed of business with mobile devices commands us to be nimble and digital. The days of dropping off a signed contract to an admin assistant for scanning and routing are over.
Taking Process Digital in Health Care
We are currently working with an organization that is moving its counseling services to a telehealth model. Clients who need ongoing counseling must access services via video and phone. This is not such a big issue so much as the document and signature workflow. Previously the patients would arrive at the office and fill out intake forms, HIPAA disclosures, and consent forms. The admin staff would handle the paper, file or scan it to a cloud drive, and then enter the patient data to the EHR and Salesforce. With telehealth services, this electronic form and signature process must happen remotely. By putting a forms solution and digital signatures in place, we helped our client streamline this process and integrate it with Salesforce. This solution allows for a timely transition that keeps patient care continuous, billing efficient, and reduces redundant data entry and paper processes while maintaining HIPAA compliance. Without the use of e-forms and a digital signing process, the organization would be struggling to adapt and ultimately losing revenue, and patients in need of services would have to search elsewhere.
Increasing Efficiency in Sales
Another use case that we often see is in the sales process. Sales reps are often tasked with generating quotes or purchase agreements. Though most organizations have Word or Google doc templates for writing quotes, these tools still have little to no ability to get quick signatures. If you have a sales team, It’s likely that they have had to generate a contract in Word, then publish it to a PDF, print, sign, and scan to the recipient at some point. If you’re not already using some type of digital signature application, this is an area where you can recognize ROI and make it easier for clients to do business with you in addition to internal cost benefits.
When quoting solutions like CPQ are added into the mix, the quoting and contracting process can be a powerful productivity and accuracy tool that hugely reduces administrative overhead for both you and your clients. CPQ (Configure Price Quote) is a tool that can bring structure and consistency to price quoting, particularly in scenarios where pricing models can be complex with bundles, volume discounts, and other exception handling. Sending error-free quotes with an easy signature option can increase the velocity of your sales process. Additionally, CPQ and integrated signature apps can offer more robust status reporting and forecasting options within systems like Salesforce. With CPQ and digital signatures enabled, the power of remote productivity can be unleashed for a mighty sales team and process.
Integrating with Digital Signature Solutions
Taking this a step further, consider integrating the digital signature solution to Salesforce or other CRM with an e-forms and digital signature solution such as Formstack. When fully optimized, quotes and contracts can be generated electronically, then sent for digital signature by all parties and automatically stored in Salesforce accounts or a preferred Object without the need to manually complete all the steps in the process, even when digital. It can also be configured to notify the signing parties that the signature process is complete. This can help speed the administrative process of contracts and agreements, which frees up your sales team for talking with clients, building relationships, and other sales activities. There are many options in the Salesforce App Exchange for these types of apps that natively reside inside your Salesforce implementation.
Next Steps for Your Organization
As most organizations shift to work from home environments, optimizing your document signing process is key to success in a remote-first world. If your organization is already utilizing a standalone e-singing application, kudos to you! Now, consider taking it a step further by integrating to other line of business applications to recognize the full benefits. Integrating to a single place of truth can also help with compliance and records retention that can prevent loss of critical documents. It will keep your inbox a lot cleaner as well.
If you’d like help with going paperless within your organization, our team of consultants and developers can help. Contact us today to learn more.