Savvy business owners are embracing e-signatures as a way to streamline contracts, reduce legal risk and go green.
By saving an average of 2.2 hours per contract, e-signatures are helping SMEs get ahead of the competition and embrace digital transformation.
Digitising the agreement process speeds up the rate of business, with some organisations reducing their contract close times from weeks to days (and even minutes).
So what do SME owners need to know before implementing e-signatures in their own business?
What is e-signature?
Electronic signatures (e-signatures) allow small business owners to securely and instantly collect document signatures online, saving valuable time, administration, printing and postage costs.
E-signatures take the form of a digital symbol applied to an electronic document for the purpose of identifying a person. Think of it as the digital version of the handwritten signature you would sign a document with.
An electronic signature has the same legal value and is used in the same way as its handwritten counterpart — to identify the person signing the document and validate its contents.
Are e-signatures legally binding?
In most parts of the world, e-signatures are legally recognised.
To give SMEs peace of mind when doing cross-border business, the Electronic Transactions Act enforces the legality of e-signatures.
The act confirms that documents can be validly executed with an electronic signature and cannot be denied legal effect purely because they are in electronic form.
An e-signature can take many forms and still be legally enforceable. It could look like a photograph of a handwritten signature, a typed name, or a touch screen signature.
As long as it identifies the person and shows their intention to accept the document, it’s valid.
There are notable exceptions to when an e-signature can and can’t be used. To learn more about relevant e-signature laws, you can review the DocuSign Legality Guide.
If you’re ready to embrace digital transformation and implement e-signatures in your business, DocuSign’s eBook Everything you need to know about electronic signature can show you how it all comes together.
The benefits of enabling e-signatures in your business
Think about the manual administration and costs associated with signing a physical contract.
There’s the printing, postage and storage costs, which average $14.21 per document. Then there’s the productivity lost in waiting for paper documents to be sent, signed and returned.
Eyewear retailer Specsavers found its executives were spending up to ten hours per week manually signing documents.
With e-signature software, the process takes minutes — even seconds.
As well as slowing down the sales cycle, physical documents present unnecessary costs and risk:
- Each four-drawer filing cabinet holds roughly 11,000 documents, and is estimated to cost $3,000 per year to maintain.
- An average of 5% of physical documents will get lost and 2% will be misfiled.
- More than 70% of companies would be forced to close in three weeks if they lost their paper archives in a fire or flood.
- Researchers estimate an average of $160,000 in legal fees and penalties could be saved each year by demonstrating the validity of a disputed agreement with an electronically signed document.
Switching to e-signature software doesn’t just reduce risk and administration costs. It also saves the planet and fortifies a company’s green credentials.
Since 2003, e-signature software provider DocuSign has saved its clients from wasting 20 billion sheets of paper, two million gallons of water, and releasing 1.6 million pounds of CO2 into the atmosphere.
With consumers becoming increasingly environmentally conscious, going paperless and embracing sustainability can give you a valuable leg-up on the competition.
Since implementing e-signature software, organisations have reported a 15% increase in customer satisfaction.
DocuSign helps organisations connect and automate how they prepare, sign, act on and manage agreements. As part of the DocuSign Agreement Cloud, DocuSign offers eSignature, the world's number one way to sign electronically on practically any device, from almost anywhere, at any time. Today, more than 750,000 customers and hundreds of millions of users in over 180 countries use DocuSign to accelerate the process of doing business and to simplify people's lives. For more information, visit our website or call 1800 255 982.