Ever wonder how signatures impact both history and the future?
The National Archives has created an exhibit that explores the history of signatures. The exhibit shows how people have left their mark on history through signatures, written, electronic and cultural signatures. The video and exhibit explores how signatures represent the power of original records.
Learn how the autopen was used to authenticate laws and documents and how technology has changed how we sign our name over the years.
President Clinton signed the Electronic Signatures in Global and National Commerce Act or eSign act also known as the Digital Millennium Copyright Act on June 30, 2000. The eSignature and digital signature pad invention of one of the co-founders of ZorroSign was instrumental in the passage of this historic law. President Clinton signed the law document with both wet ink, as a symbolic gesture, and also used a digital signature token. This paved the way for ZorroSign’s patented and legally binding signature application.
We found this video very fitting not only from the perspective of the role of electronic signature in our society today, but also the impact of signatures on our society throughout history.
Best Practice for Preparing Documents for Digital Processing
As organizations go from using paper documents with wet ink for signatures to digital and electronic signatures, many simply re-purpose their old forms and contracts for digital use. This is perfectly fine. However, as some of our customers discovered, versions of documents used for manual or paper processing don’t always transfer well into the digital world. Most common issues include spacing between lines and not enough space to write information in or enter your signature, to name a few. Naturally, it becomes problematic for parties to read and execute contracts clearly and cleanly.
After helping so many customers, ZorroSign has compiled following 11 best practices for preparing documents for digital processing. These tips can be used to convert an existing document or start a new one from scratch. If you feel we have missed a tip, please let us know in the comment section.
Use a Word Processor like Microsoft Word or Apple Pages. You can use other software programs just as long as they provide you tools to better control the spacing, margins, placement of fields to enter data, and letterhead. We do highly recommend that you use your letterhead as your base document.
Margins: Minimum 1″ margin all around is highly recommended.
Document header: Put the title of the document or form (if you want it repeated on every page), your logo, form number, version number and other static information. On a multi-page document some prefer not to repeat the title on every page to save space, which is perfectly okay.
Document Footer: Put divider bar on top of the footer space, page number, place for initials, contact information that is again static. We learned that our customers prefer their parties to initial on every page especially on legal documents and therefore putting initials in footer is the best solution.
Leave at least one row worth of white space between the header and start of text and end of text and the footer. Also anticipate maximum length of data that can be entered in every field and give sufficient space for that. For example, for address anticipate the longest street and city name.
Set line spacing to 1.5 between lines where you want users to enter data. The rest of the document can have the standard 1″ line spacing. Make sure your document is legible and readable. This is especially important as we become a paperless society, we will be reading documents on screens of laptops, tablets, and mobile devices.
Be generous with pages of your document. As we go digital we will print less and less pages so it does not matter how long your document is. Of course, we can always print back to back if we really must print.
Create a signature section or page and use tables with rows and columns for users to enter their name, company name, title, signature, and date as appropriate for your document. It is very important that there is sufficient space for people to put their signature especially if they prefer to use their finger on a touch screen.
Lastly, remember that your document will be used in a digital transaction (workflow and automation) think how people will be handling the document when it comes to creating a template out of the old paper document, for signing digitally, entering data, and version controlling.
Before you upload a document into ZorroSign, see the document in Print Preview to make sure the page brakes, spacing, alignment is correct. We found Page Break to be the biggest culprit when converting Word Documents into PDF files.
We have taken the liberty of creating a sample document using all the tips mentioned in this article. Click here to download the Microsoft Word document in a .zip file.
Last Updated: Jan 24, 2019
Last month, when ZorroSign launched its Green initiative called Paperless Life, I wrote an article about the environmental impact of using office paper. The impact on the environment is significant in terms of conservation of water, energy, and trees as well as reduction of Carbon footprint. For the organizations adopting #PaperlessLife strategy, there are tangible and intangible benefits for the company and its employees. In this article I will analyze the business impact of using office paper for business transactions, specifically the financial impact.
Challenges and Cost Factors
Almost every business process that involves document signatures is either fully manual or partially digital. The use case in this context is a combination of: Print-Sign-Scan-Email or FedEx. (Choose your favorite courier service). If it’s a document for a loan of any kind with co-signers, repeat the use case above for every signatory.
Because no two businesses are the same, it is better to provide a framework for cost calculation. We will consider each component of this use case for our framework for cost analysis.
$12k to $120k /Year
size of company, includes cyber attack coverage.
Applying the Cost Analysis Framework
Costs of using paper may vary from one company to another. However, it is very clear that the cost is significant relative to the size of the company. The overall business impact of using office paper is tremendous. We highly recommend to apply the above framework to your business situation and calculate cost as accurately as you can. Then compare that cost to purchasing and using an eSignature and Digital Transaction Management system. Click here to check out ZorroSign Plans & Pricing.
People have been toying around with the idea of a Smart City. Some Asian countries have good success with Smart City. As we hear more about Smart Cities, digital. transformation, security, and privacy of data I can’t help but think that Smart Cities are a great way to completely change the way we live our lives at some level. Smart Cities and #PaperlessLife. There is no place for paper in a smart city.
Imagine a world without printers, toner, scanners, ink pen, and paper. Stretch your imagination a little and imagine a world without paper books, book shelves, news papers, magazines, file cabinets, manila folders, staplers, 3-hole punch, business cards, paper clips (Microsoft’s Clippy will be out of a job).
Your office is located in a smart city. Now imagine your office without a printer. No its not hiding in a closet, it just does not exist. Your company never bought it because they are not available for purchase if you live in a smart city.
In the smart city, every business transaction is conducted electronically. You sign rental agreements, medical forms, consent forms, employment letters, and taxes. Everything.
However, the barrier to entry is trust. How do you trust that the document you are signing will not be tampered with or your signature will not be forged post-execution. Furthermore, when you receive an officially signed document, how do you make sure the document is legit and has not been tampered with. The answer is ZorroSign 4n6 Token. Document DNA based document forensics information that’s built on a private Blockchain that detects forgery and fraud in documents.
It is possible to have a smart city that is completely paperless and where document transactions are protected.
A document is sent out as an email attachment asking the recipient to “sign it and send it back.” A new hire packet is sent out for acknowledgement and signature with 52 pages in it. A sales contract is sent out for approvals to multiple people before it goes to the customer. A real estate transaction requires multiple people sign a huge stack of papers. Non-disclosure agreements, invoices, service agreements, and consent forms; they all are sent out for signatures and approvals. All of these “business transactions” involve 2 or more individuals to sign. Most of these cases result in Print-Sign-Scan or Ship then Print-or-Copy-and-store away. A number of businesses have started using some form of eSignature solution but still insist on printing a copy for backup. With average document retention policy being 7 years, office floors are lined with huge steel file cabinets. On average one office worker uses roughly 9000 sheets of copy paper in a single year.
In this article I will focus on environmental impact of using physical paper for all such business transactions. In the next installment, I will cover the analysis of hard cost associated with using paper.
Trees or Wood
It is estimated that one tree produces roughly between 8000 and 8333 (average 8166) regular copy paper. Considering that most of the world uses A4 size paper, the number would be close to 8000 or less. This number assumes a certain size of tree. It does not take into consideration many other types of trees with varied shapes and sizes. Assuming 8166 pages per tree, an office of 100 employees would use about 113 trees worth of paper each year which amounts to roughly 1.25 MM lbs (569.5 kg) of wood each year. As you can see how quickly these numbers add up.
It is estimated that a paper manufacturing plant would use about 3 gallons of non-recycled water to produce one sheet of copy paper or 1.5 gallons of recycled water. Using the example of wood usage above, a typical office of 100 employees would be responsible for using roughly 2.77 MM gallons of water per year to use all that office paper.
Calculating Carbon footprint for a life of a copy paper (from a tree getting chopped off, going through the manufacturing process, to distribution) is a very difficult task due to the complex nature of all the processes involved. The fact that every paper manufacturer produces a wide variety of paper products adds to this complexity. However, one factor that makes it easy to estimate Carbon emission is the fuel consumption during transportation of documents for signature. This means trucks, cars, and airplanes used by the courier services like FedEx. Based on the above example, this single office would be responsible for roughly 629 tons of Carbon emission per year.
How Can You Help?
Consider living a Paperless Life! Step 1 is to know how much you could be saving based on your current use of paper. ZorroSign has developed an Environmental Savings Calculator which lets users estimate how many trees, how much water consumption can be saved, and how much carbon emissions can be avoided in less miles driven by going paperless. In the calculator, simply enter the number of documents your company sends out for signature and number of documents your company signs every week – and the calculator will show you estimated savings per year in terms of trees, water, Carbon emission, time, and cost.
According to SBE Council, there are over 5.8 million employer firms in the United States and firms with fewer than 500 workers account for 99 percent of all businesses. If all those businesses convert even 25% of their paper document transactions to all-digital it could mean tremendous reduction in number of trees saved, reduction in water consumption, and a significant reduction in the Carbon footprint.
Managing documents is work. When documents are a part of a business transaction, the work involves collecting signatures and its work with direct money on the line. Whether you’re dealing with physical paper documents, fully digital, or somewhere in between, document-based transactions involve a process or workflow. It’s time consuming and error prone and it could cost an entire deal if not done correctly the first time.
For ease of use and to save money organizations are moving to digital documents instead of paper-print-sign-scan-fax-manila folder system. Therefore, more and more people are adopting eSignature and Digital Transaction Management (DTM) systems to help with all that. Not all eSignature solution providers offer a robust DTM system that can handle creating or configuring workflows that your business requires.
Using a DTM system, when you create a workflow you are defining a set of actions that each person involved in the workflow has to take in a particular sequence with dependencies. Imagine two people co-signing a loan and then the bank signs the documents at the end indicating their approval. That’s a workflow. If you are using a DTM system or are looking to purchase one, here are 9 things you should be doing with your DTM system.
Define document and user-specific workflows.
There are essentially two types of basic workflows. The first one is where a document gets executed over and over again and each time with different people, companies, and dates. For example, everytime a Non-Disclosure Agreement or a standard sales contract is sent out for signatures, the recipient, date, value are different each time but the rest of the document stays unchanged.
The second type of workflow is when a business process requires the same people to sign any set of documents every time. Suppose you have a company policy that invoices (from any vendor) over $5000 that must be approved by the CFO and the CEO before they are paid out. With DTM you should be able to create an automated workflow that can handle this process regardless of who the vendor is, what the document might look like, the number of pages, and how many places people have to sign.
Define your document signing process.
What does your document signing process look like? Well-designed document workflows will help improve the effectiveness and efficiency of your work. Create your signature easily, upload your documents and then execute the signing process. This could be as simple as numbering the sequence of signers inside the document and specifying what actions they have to take (Check a box, sign, date). You should be able to simply sequence the signatures and dates and that makes the document signing process to easy as 1-2-3.
Define templates for multi-use.
In your business you have business transactions that require special or custom handling or one-off documents like a sales contract that is so different from deal to deal that you don’t recognize it as “the” contract. Then you have business transactions that can be completed with the same set of documents with little variations such as who signs it, date, and the value of the deal. You probably already have a template that you use every time you have to execute one of those transactions.
With a DTM system like the ZorroSign, you can convert your document templates into digital templates with full features such as wizard-like interface for you to complete a transaction. You can also define expiration dates and how many days you want to give people to sign each document. Let’s take a very simple example of again a Non-Disclosure Agreement. Every time you must execute this document its the same document with only the name of the people involved, company, and date. NDA is an ideal document to convert into a template. Other examples we have seen people convert into templates using ZorroSign are rental agreements, consent forms, and new hire packets.
In the attempt to never go back to paper again, we refer to Abby Lawson who writes ‘The Ultimate Guide to Going Paperless’.
Build and Organize a template library.
Now that you know how to build a template out of your frequently used documents, you can build an entire library of those for everyone at the company to use. A good DTM system will allow you to organize your templates library into departments and divisions and assign individuals to a department and assign permissions based on roles and responsibilities.
The Balance outlines the workflow using templates and following through.
Documents should be protected
With pen-and-paper documents you can easily detect forgery of signature or tampering of documents. It is natural to expect the same level of protection from your digital documents when you go paperless.
ZorroSign’s Document DNA-based 4n6 (Forensics) Token provides the same level of detection of fraud and forgery. When building your workflow or your templates make sure to place this token at the end of every workflow and you can have the peace of mind that your documents are protected even when you have share them with a third party by printing them or sending them as PDF.
Full automation saves time, money and avoids errors.
Computer software can improve workflows by automating document routing and processing. It can also connect one or more systems by providing interfaces between different applications by integrating the workflows using ZorroSign API. Automate your workflow with one touch, assign the right people and you’re done. With automation comes savings of time and money. By specifying conditions and rules you can avoid costly errors that people make when executing documents. The Director of Product Strategy, Sam Thorpe writes of how important it is to digitize your life.
Create folders and subfolders.
As the number of documents grow so does the time it takes to manage them and search for them. You can organize your documents into folders and subfolders. Ever have a document that belonged in multiple folders? With the smart tagging system now a single file can be placed into multiple folders without making a copy of the document.
Clear rules help identify bottlenecks and rejected documents.
As you build your workflows and templates and as those documents and templates get executed you will need to make sure people are signing and taking actions on those documents on time. A DTM system will at any time tell you where the bottlenecks are in your workflow and how fast the document is moving, when its pending, when it’s done, rejected or expired. With automated notifications, status and bottleneck indicators you can automate-and-forget.
Create a team environment.
Get workflow participants involved in the improvement campaign. Observe their interactions with the system. Get their ideas for possible improvements. Develop a flowchart that they agree with, and test the new workflows. Take it from the CMO of ZorroSign, Akbar Jaffer – read all about the trials and tribulations of running an efficient business.
The answer is definitely yes.
Similar to the financial services industry, the legal industry has been very difficult to innovate for when it comes to the latest technology tools and trends. Financial Services providers are responsible for protecting the assets of their customers – “protection” in its most strictest of definitions. Similarly the lawyers are responsible to make sure their clients are protected against any bad actors and bad actions or behaviors by bad actors. Therefore it is natural to be very careful when it comes to adopting new technology especially if it has a potential of exploitation, cyber attack, but most importantly fraud and tampering of evidence which includes documents.
Legal transactions that are of high value are still, to this day, being transacted (signed) on physical paper using a wet pen, mailed back and forth and copied for safekeeping. Some even make a PDF copy but the originals are still kept around forever. As a society, it will take time for us to go totally digital. However, there are some in the legal community who live on the bleeding edge of technology and have made some significant strides in terms of adopting new technology or at least considering it. The question is, lead by these daredevils, is the legal industry headed in the right direction when it comes to eSignature and Digital Transaction Management technology?
High Performance Counsel is an information destination for the leaders in the legal community who prefer to live their lives at the bleeding edge of technology. Recently Akbar Jaffer, the CMO of ZorroSign sat down with David Kinnear, CEO of High Performance Counsel to discuss the state of technology in legal industry. Read the full interview here.
ZorroSign recently learned that law firms that are serious about technology have established a “technology lab” where they research, test, and contemplate adoption of tech tools in their practice. ZorroSign is an ideal solution for such legal “tech labs.”
If you are a law firm interested in exploring eSignature and Digital Transaction Management (DTM) technology, here are some use cases that other law firms have automated.
It is a proud moment for the ZorroSign team to become the winners of Rising Star and the prestigious Great User Experience award in December 2017 by FinancesOnline, a B2B & software solutions review site. This highly reputed and popular software review platform featured ZorroSign where their experts analyzed how our solution is changing the eSignature and Digital Transaction Management game.
Expert enterprise software analysts from FinancesOnline review and examine hundreds of the best free electronic signature software and Document Management Software categories under Collaboration Software and we are honored to be recognized as leaders in our space. According to their experts ZorroSign offers sophisticated yet flexible functionality that can handle simplest to most complex document signing workflows and processes used by SMB and large enterprise companies.
According to Finances Online, eSignature is a facilitating confirmation option, but also an online mechanism for trustworthy validation of critical information and documents. A good solution makes faking signatures extremely difficult, if not impossible. The high-end digital eSigning software for enterprises automates the workflow by allowing users to convert proprietary documents into templates and also by providing a set of pre-made templates you can distribute instead of drafting special ones for every occasion. More sophisticated solutions like ZorroSign also offer full logic-based content automation capabilities. Our solution was also recommended as one of the top e-signature alternatives suggested by the experts.
When it comes to operations, processes, and requirements, no two companies are the same. That is why ZorroSign offers a consultative approach to helping our customers find the right solution. Our demos are also customized.
We invite you to reach out to us, ask us questions, see a custom demo, and sign up for our free Starter account and get your first 10 document sets for free.
Did you know that simply using electronic signature for your business is insufficient when it comes to security of your signature and documents, and also for automating your business processes? If at any point you are scanning, printing, or mailing business documents, you have an incredible opportunity to automate all of that, eliminate paper, save tons of time and money, and close deals within hours instead of days. Companies that are looking to optimize their businesses, automate mundane tasks and become efficient, eSignature and DTM are key to digital transformation.
We are just getting started with digital transformation. Over 65% of businesses are still conducting various document based transactions using paper and pen. People are still printing, signing, scanning, copying, FedEx-ing, and storing piles of signed documents and contracts in manila folders. Every dental office has a wall of shelf with mountains of manila folders with colored tags sticking out. And the list goes on.
DTM is a category of technology solution available either in the Cloud, via integration, or on-premise that is designed to digitally manage document-based transactions. DTM aims to automate and streamline cumbersome and time-consuming inefficient process of business transactions that involve people, documents, and data. It promises to create faster, easier, more convenient, and secure paper-less processes.
According to Aragon Research, a leading B2B technology research firm, the race to digital starts with making document-based transactions fully digital. Digital Transaction Management (DTM) is often the catalyst for the start of digital transformation, helping enterprises to operate faster. The research report published by Aragon Research offers great insight for SMB and large organizations and what to look for when evaluating eSignature and advanced DTMsolutions available in the market. The report covers following key insights.
Automating Paper Transactions
Basic DTM Gives Way to More Advanced Capabilities
Use of Electronic and Biometric signatures
Workflow and Content Automation
ZorroSign is recognized by Aragon Research as hot vendor in Digital Transaction Management. ZorroSign is considered an advanced DTM solution because of its innovative product, unique technology, bank-grade security, lead in mobile biometrics, and robust enterprise-grade automation engine.
When an organization converts its paper-based business processes and transactions that involve filling out forms and collecting signatures and dates, it opens up the possibility of incredible insight into its business operations. This insight into business processes and business transactions not only helps identify what’s working and what needs to be improved it can also predict what to expect. All this is possible with big data. Digitization of our business opens doors for massive amount of structured and unstructured data to be collected, processed and analyzed. Business processes that involved electronic signatures, automation engine and workflows are no exception, rather, they are ideal for big data implementation.
In this article we analyze various components of a digital transaction management system including electronic signature and outline some of the best practices for big data application. We organize components of a DTM into categories of insights and outline best practice insights under each. For the purpose of this article, we will only use five user-based categories.
How many templates of what type are there.
How many times each template has been used.
How many times each template has been rejected and for what reasons.
How many workflows are there for each type of workflow categories
How many total transactions use some type of template
How many eSign transactions were completed
How many Document Sets are used (by each user, overall)
Are the number of Document Sets sufficient for the company?
How many Document Sets end up having attachments? Size of attachments?
Number and frequency of Document Sets printed, shared, granted access to.
How long (min, max, average) has it taken to complete a transaction
How long (min, max, average) has it taken to complete a transaction for each type of work flow.
What is the (min, max, average) length of a bottleneck.
Number of transactions rejected and for what reasons.
What is the (min, max, average) number of signers in the transactions.
Number of users
Number and frequency of log-ins.
Number of scans
Number of users who create new signatures using the ap
Usage Patterns of Signers
Type of signatures used
Integrated users, Cloud users, 3rd party app users.
And the list goes on. The idea is to identify actionable insights. That’s the beauty and true value of big data. Digital Transaction Management systems are specially ideal for big data applications because they contain extremely large data sets that can be analyzed computationally and can easily reveal patterns, trends, and associations, especially relating to human behavior and interactions.