Have you applied for a business loan lately? Or had some repairs done on your facilities? Maybe you have signed a contract with a certain technologically inclined customer or vendor. In any of these instances, you (or one of your employees) probably had to electronically sign a digital document.
So, the next question is: How come your company is not using this technology? If the answer is, “We are,” kudos to you (assuming it is working out). But if your reply is, “We have always used paper and do not want to deal with the expense and hassle of converting to digital documentation,” you may want to reconsider — because it is not going away.
Why go digital?
For businesses, there are generally three reasons to use digital documents with e-signatures:
- Speed. When you can review and sign a business document electronically, it can be transmitted instantly and approved much more quickly. And this works both ways: your customers can sign contracts or submit orders for your products or services, and you can sign similar documents with vendors, partners, or consultants. What used to take days or even weeks, as paper envelopes crisscrossed in the mail, now can occur in a matter of hours.
- Security. Paper has a way of getting lost, damaged, and destroyed. That is not to say digital documents are impervious to thievery, corruption, and deletion, but a trusted provider should be able to outfit you with software that not only allows you to use digital docs with e-signatures but also keep the resulting files encrypted and safe from anyone or anything who would do them harm.
- Service. This may be the most important reason to incorporate digital docs and e-sigs into your business. Younger generations have come of age, if not grown up, with digitized business services. They expect this functionality and may prefer a company that offers it to one that still requires them to put pen to paper.
What about the law?
Many business owners hesitate to dive into digital docs and e-signatures because of legal concerns. This is a reasonable concern. However, e-signatures are now widely used and generally considered lawful under two statutes:
- The Electronic Signatures in Global and National Commerce Act of 2000 – a federal law
- The Uniform Electronic Transactions Act – governs each state, unless a comparable law is in place
In addition, every state has some sort of legislation in place legalizing e-signatures. There may be some limited exceptions in certain cases, so check with your attorney for specifics.
Is now the time?
To be clear, investing in digital documents with e-signatures, and training your employees to use them, is a major strategic initiative. You need to make sure the return on investment will be worth the effort. We can assist you in evaluating whether now is the time to ‘go digital’ and, if so, in setting a budget for the software purchase and implementation.