There are many benefits to switching to e-signatures and digital contracts. Turnaround time for signing and approval increases when customers and employees alike are able to save copies and return to them later. However, moving too quickly to the ease of digital contacts with electronic signatures might not be the best option for every company. In fact, some businesses may need to make a gradual transition. Here are four things to consider before you decide to switch over to electronic contracts instead of paper ones.
Risk and Compliance
Almost every industry is bound by legalities to protect customers, patients, clients, and even employees. Medical service providers and their contractors are required to follow HIPAA, while any retailer or organization that handles customer financial information (like credit card numbers) needs to take steps to keep this information confidential. Failure to follow through with any of these compliance measures (even if no information is leaked or the information isn’t dangerous) could lead to millions of dollars in fines.
Before your company invests in digital signatures, make sure the contractors you work for follow compliance laws in your area. You may have to work with a specific contractor that specializes in e-signatures for the healthcare, legal, government, or pharmaceutical fields.
While your company might be ready to step into the modern area and use digital signatures immediately, some of your customers might not. Many companies still require employees to receive physical signatures of approval with hard copies saved for future reference. If you typically work with older companies, smaller businesses, and with industries that have complicated legal requirements, you might have to use paper signatures for the next several years.
One solution is to offer multiple options. Your e-signature provider should support a hybrid paper/digital process where required. This means that you can keep your files digital up to the point of signing, and then print to paper for exceptional situations. These paper documents, even if they are signed in ink, can still be scanned back into the e-signature system and kept digital for archiving. This tends to be the best option for appeasing the majority of your clients while still moving your business in a digital direction. Plus, as more companies step into the modern era, you will find the benefits of moving the majority of your clients to digital signatures outweighs the costs of frustrating your laggard ones.
Software Usage and Training
Along with reviewing how your customers will handle your e-signature tools, managers also have to consider how employees will embrace the new software. Companies will have to train team members on the new tools and move departments off the old systems and onto the new ones. For some businesses, this is easier said than done. They might find themselves receiving pushback from various levels of the company that slows the adoption process and frustrates IT specialists.
Strategic managers will create goals for this software adoption and set a timeline for levels of use. Within a few months, there should be significantly more people using the e-signature resources than there were before. Soon the entire company will be able to use these tools successfully.
Costs and Budgeting
The cost of paper is one of the main incentives businesses have to switch from physical copies to digital signatures. Legal departments go through hundreds of reams of paper each year copying and saving contracts for future reference. By switching to e-signatures, companies have the chance to save hundreds or thousands of dollars each year on paper, toner and supplies.
However, investing in digital signatures doesn’t mean e-signatures have a zero cost. Oftentimes companies pay for software licensing fees, especially if they want to expand their services when the company grows.
The cost of e-signatures is also often attributed to the IT department’s budget. If a company is cutting back on paper in hopes of saving money, it needs to allocate budget to the technology department to cover the costs of the e-signature software.
Within a few months, your company could move from paper contractors to digital options completely. However, this process requires careful thought and planning for a successful execution. By taking these factors into consideration, you can ensure a smooth transition for your customers and employees.
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Source: Main home business mag
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