In today’s technology driven business environment, virtually every decision and action a company makes is centered around and utilizes technology. Technology has allowed companies to move quicker, more efficiently, and reduces waste. But one area of business that seemingly has been slow to adopt the benefits of technology is legal documents and contracts. A vast majority of companies and banks still have policies that require paper documents to be reviewed and signed before the terms of the agreement can be legally binding. However, that does not have to be the case. Electronic signature (e-signature) software has existed for more than a decade, and for companies that have on-boarded the capabilities have benefited greatly with little to no risk.
“Adopters of e-signatures have raved about their speed, flexibility, and efficiency of funding deals and the convenience they afford their users. A properly set up e-signature program provides three major benefits over traditional ink signatures. First, e-signatures ensure that documents are being signed properly the first time (forgotten e-signatures are impossible as the document cannot be returned incomplete); second, e-signing can be conducted by multiple persons at different locations simultaneously; and, third, e-signatures provide much better confidence and evidence that the proper person executed the document as compared to a traditional ink signature.” – Bob Cohen, equipment leasing and asset based lending attorney at Morritt, Hock & Hamroff LLP.
First things first: What exactly IS an electronic signature? E-signature software allows companies to draft legal documents or contracts electronically, send encrypted files via e-mail to the intended recipient who can review the entire document and then be prompted where to sign, and with a few clicks have a legally binding contract which is then returned back to the sender instantaneously, and stored in a bank level security database which can be accessed whenever necessary from anywhere in the world.
Speed: The benefits of e-signature software are vast, but perhaps the biggest of them being speed. Gone are the days of sending documents back and forth via priority mail which can take days if it is being sent across the country. With e-signature technology, what may have taken days can now be done in minutes, which can be extremely valuable to a business who is looking to get their new equipment delivered and implemented as quickly as possible.
Efficiency: Electronic documents eliminate user error and ensure a contract is filled out properly before it is submitted back. It is very common to have a situation where an applicant looking for financing fills out the documents incorrectly, or misses a signature or required field which requires that the process start over, and wastes valuable time.
Amendable: In scenarios where edits are necessary, using electronic documents and e-signatures makes amendments much easier and exponentially faster. Changes are made, and sent back immediately which saves time and improves the customer experience.
Easily Recalled: With cloud based and bank level encrypted storage capabilities, companies can now legally file their sensitive data electronically which can in turn be recalled by a simple search and referenced at any time from anywhere on the globe.
In the end, a customer generally does not require paper hard copies for their documents and quite frankly, large files riddled with legal jargon can be overwhelming and stressful. Most customers simply want to understand the gist of the document and know where to sign to which e-signature technology is perfect for. However, for those who do want to be able to dot the i’s and cross the t’s, electronic documents still offer all of the same capabilities.
Electronic signatures are currently used in legal and private affairs, business transactions and government documents. There is a very high level of security that goes along with electronic signatures. Traceable information is available about who signed, when and where, that sets it apart from inked signatures. Customers will soon expect this as a standard business practice, so now is the perfect time to make the switch.
“From depositing checks to watching movies, many decision makers operate remotely and at their own fast-paced convenience. This trend will continue to grow as the technology generation ascends into more managerial roles. If you do not have the capability to have your documents signed electronically and instead you say to your customer, “I will overnight you the documents to sign,” your company will be viewed as a dinosaur, particularly when compared to your competitors who have an electronic signature program. Smart companies adopt to changes in the market place. Be one of those companies, and don’t run the risk of becoming extinct: the time is now for e-signatures.”
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