Authored by Paul Gorman, ImageSoft Account Executive 

There are not many IT activities as pointless as making a process ‘paperless’ and then, at the end of the process, still printing a document so that you can get a wet signature on the paper.  The benefits of paperless technology are to avoid time delays and the expense caused by using paper to capture transactions.  Despite losing these two “signature” benefits (see what I did there?) to a paperless process, many Departments of Transportation (DOTs) continue to do so.  

Left with paper files that often have to be scanned and then shredded or, worse, stored in cabinets and archives, the practice of scanning what had before printing been a digital document just highlights the absurdity of this practice. 

Although still common, the pain point I’m talking about today is not a revolutionary breakthrough. There have been archives of content written about digitally signing documents at DOTs, but most of that content overlooks the most obvious fact: not every DOT signature process is the same. Failing to address all your signature processes makes the solution nothing but a band-aid. How can a single type of electronic signature solution be the best fit?  A best practice at DOTs is to address all of the agency signature processes.  

Let’s look at a couple of different processes to see the differences: 

Capturing a vendor signature from outside the DOT office  

This is the most common example often used to justify the implementation of electronic signature technologies.  In this example, we need a technology that will digitally transmit the documents to be signed to the signatory, capture the signature electronically, and enable the signatory to return the signed documents to the sender.  An ideal solution would include the signing event within contracting, purchasing or transaction processing technology so that the process of sending and receiving the documents to be signed is just a continuation of the business process. 

The best practice solution for this type of signature process is to use a commercial product like DocuSign and connect it to the document management system (DMS) workflow process.  For example, the OnBase Integration with an eSignature platform, like DocuSign, allows you to electronically obtain signatures from people outside of your organization by providing complete management of processes that require secure, electronic signatures in the cloud. The integration manages the signature cycle within OnBase by automatically packaging documents and relevant signer information, sending this information securely to the eSignature host, and collecting the completed documents.   

Capturing a vendor signature from within the DOT office 

Contrast that process with the same contractor sitting across from your desk or in a conference room.  Capturing a vendor signature while they are in your office is a very different event.  Transmitting a document to be signed would require the signatory to leave and go to their office, or log into their computer or smart phone from your office.  A much smarter technology would be to capture the vendor’s signature on a signature pad in your office, and the ideal process would include capturing a signature as a part of the larger automated business process. 

The best practice solution for this type of signature process is to integrate signature pads as peripheral hardware into the DMS.  The Signature Pad Interface electronically captures signatures, allowing users to sign documents within the DMS. The ability to real-time sign documents accelerates many business processes, including approvals, order receipt or policy acknowledgement. Signatures are permanently burned onto the document, providing a secure and unalterable record of the captured document signature.   

Capturing Approval Processes Signatures 

I think you can separate internal approvals that require signatures from those in which the approval event just needs to be captured.  Capturing an internal signature is often a frequent event.  Having witnessed supervisors spending significant time approving internal process requests with wet signatures, I can state that finding ways to eliminate or reduce the difficulty of these signatures is a quick win that can provide organizations significant time savings for some of the most expensive staff, since the signers are usually senior level management.  

The best practice solution is to provide digital signature technology allowing users to digitally sign documents to ensure their authenticity and integrity.  The OnBase Digital Signatures module uses cryptographic procedures to determine whether a document has changed in any way since the signature was applied, making certain the document remains secure and unaltered. ImageSoft’s TrueSign technology was designed for judges to make a signing process faster using a recorded signature but is also ideal for DOT approval processes as well.  Through its tight integration with OnBase Workflow, OnBase Digital Signatures or TrueSign signatures can be applied as an additional validation measure during any approval process.   

Capturing Approval Events 

An approval event capture can be handled in a less formal way since there are benefits to being less formal about these types of approval.  Imagine, if you will, a supervisor who spends 80 percent of their day in meetings (I know, probably not that hard to imagine).  Providing an approval mechanism that can be handled from a mobile device, such as a smart phone or tablet, while away from the primary workstation would be a beneficial solution.  Not only helping to keep processes flowing but to reduce the time demand on the busy supervisor on those rare occasions when they are at their workstations. 

Provided you have a single mobile technology platform, your OnBase solution can solve this problem with one of the Mobile platforms.  For example, OnBase Mobile Access for iPhone provides workers with easy access to OnBase documents and processes at their convenience, and while they’re on-the-go. Organizations can decrease overall processing time and simultaneously increase productivity by always keeping OnBase at decision makers’ fingertips. 

What Will Be Your Signature Move?  

The best practice of matching signature types with a specific eSignature or approval solution guarantees organizations obtain the most benefit from their electronic signature investment, and provides staff with the benefit of an entirely paperless processes.  

Which of the “signature moves” listed above are a best fit for your organization?  

Reply in the “comments” section below or on LinkedIn. We read and response – promise! 

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