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Making the Move to Digital Signature

Feb 15, 2022
Making the Move to Digital Signature

Unexpected Efficiencies 

How businesses are adapting to life under lockdown and why Digital Signature may be a surprising advantage in the recovery?

New tech trends pop up every month, which even for small business owners opens up a can of worms. How do you know if you’ve backed a “winner” or if you’re just burning cash on a technology that will be as dead as a dinosaur in a few years? After all, some innovations get adopted at a lightning pace, others at a crawl, while others still never get off the ground.

Enterprise messaging (led by apps like Slack) has exploded over the past five years. Contactless payments — while booming in countries like Australia — still haven’t caught on in the US. It makes knowing which technology to trust for your business tricky.

When you throw in a global COVID-19 outbreak, you’re now dealing with even more change in an already shifting landscape. The lockdowns, social distancing, and obsessive focus on hygiene have spun society around, and nobody has felt it more than businesses big and small.

 When Offline Goes Online 

Every person and every business has been touched by the coronavirus in some way. Busy buildings are now empty. The usual hordes of workers commuting to the office have vanished. Once-bustling city centers have become ghost towns. Thousands of businesses have already closed their doors.

Those able to make the jump online have done so with varying degrees of success. During the lockdown months, communications technology kept us going with remote work, distance learning, and telehealth (just to name a few). Of all the technologies that make up our virtual society, Digital Signature has been a “Quiet Achiever”. A way to sign and complete agreements online.

It’s allowed businesses to keep things rolling along when activities like gathering in the office, mailing material back and forth, travel, and meetings have been impossible to do. The below graph represents Google searches for ‘Electronic Signature’ over the past 12 months:

 While the Digital Signature market was valued at $1.53 billion in 2019, rapid expansion (with Asia Pacific expected to be the fastest-growing region) means the market is forecast to have exploded to $23.95 billion by 2030. 

 Beyond Digital Signature 

As the pandemic left economies sputtering in the slow lane, Digital Signature suddenly streaked ahead: in some cases, by over 50% usage. While the lure of signing agreements without meeting in-person or handling papers was an obvious drawcard, it wasn’t the only reason to move online. DocuSign, a leader in the field, offers a platform that combines powerful tools around contract lifecycle management, document generation, and other functions that a system of agreement needs.

Features and functionality aside, it’s Digital Signature’s ability to tackle real-life challenges — especially in today’s world — that organizations want to learn about. For two businesses, in particular, DocuSign helped them not only untangle complicated processes struggling to cope with the pandemic but discover productivity gains that will last long after the lockdowns.

 Property Agents Vs The Flood: Automation That Freed Hundreds Of Hours 

As the lockdowns brought business to a standstill, money (or lack of) quickly became an issue. Property managers around the world soon faced a flood of rental reduction requests. While processing applications like these aren’t a property agency’s favorite thing to do (since a reduction or pause in rent costs them), requests typically don’t arrive en masse. An agent could spend hours working through one, but their low numbers meant that streamlining the process wasn’t a priority, until now!

 Manual Mess 

A large property management company in Sydney, Australia was faced with thousands of tenants asking for a discount or pause in rental payments. Unfortunately, the agency’s standard process to handle these requests was torturous…

  1. The Property Manager (or PM) gets an email from a tenant asking for a discount
  2. The PM asks them to provide information about their business, along with proof of earnings loss (such as bank statements or tax documents to help determine how much income they’ve lost).
  3. This often starts a back-and-forth between the two to get all the information.
  4. From there, the PM contacts the landlord to see what they could do to ease the stress of payments, such as pausing loan repayments or getting land tax discounts.
  5. The landlord investigates, then advises the PM what they’d found… leading to another chain of emails with attachments: a nightmare for managers trying to find a single file.
  6. That done, the PM prints out all the documents then follow a government formula to calculate how much the tenant should pay. This can take 30 minutes for a simple scenario, or hours for a more complicated one.
  7. With the discount calculated, the PM writes a rental relief report with a letter of recommendation to the landlord.
  8. If the landlord agrees, the PM sends a letter of offer with the new rental details to the tenant.
  9. If the tenant agrees, the PM creates a Deed of Variation to be signed by the landlord, tenant, and lawyer.
  10.  With the Deed signed, the PM sends the document to the accounts team to update direct debits and any other systems.

Property Managers had to “rinse and repeat” these convoluted, almost painful steps for each tenant. In the current circumstances, it was unsustainable.

 Simpler Solution 

To deal with the torrent of applications, the property agency turned to automation. A workflow using DocuSign and Microsoft Power Automate could drastically reduce the burden on Managers, but building the process would take technology-specific expertise.

Luckily, the agency found a team able to deliver exactly that. After that team analyzed the process, they took it online. Things still flowed much the same, but now took a fraction of the time and effort. After that team analyzed the process, they took it online. Things still flowed much the same, but now took a fraction of the time and effort.

  • Instead of buried in chains of emails, the PM now stores all documents for a request in one “envelope” they can easily access.
  • Each file is protected so only the relevant people can access them, with the Property Manager having universal access.
  • To send forms to either the tenant or landlord, all the PM has to do is click “Send” on the form they want.
  • The tenant and landlord can upload documents the PM asks for and complete their forms electronically.
  • Once the information is collected and the forms signed, the rental discount is calculated automatically, without the PM having to worry about it.
  • When the PM approves the discount (again, just a few clicks), the landlord and tenant both receive details around the rental relief.
  • When they’ve signed these documents, the system creates a Deed of Variation which can be signed digitally by each party.
  • Everything is now done, the workflow stores the details into a Google sheet that the PM uses to track the status of the application. When the application is finalized, the accounts team gets a notification to update their systems.
 With around 2,000 applications to deal with, the cost saving was close to $150,000. 

Once in place, PMs saved around two hours on each application. They no longer had to spend time digging through emails, crunching numbers, rummaging through forms, or tracing where an application was up to. With around 2,000 applications to deal with, the cost-saving was close to $150,000. Plus, both tenants and landlords had an answer much faster, giving them certainty on a subject that could get emotionally charged.

 The Last Straw: Taking Complex Financial Contracts Online For Faster Sign-Off 

For a Canadian equity investment fund and their advisors, the coronavirus was the straw that broke the camel’s back. The agreement process used to sign up new prospects to the fund — which involved face-to-face meetings and “snail mail” — was already slow and laborious before the pandemic. Now, they had new hurdles to jump.

 Paper Problem 

When it came down to it, the problem was the agreement itself: a long and intricate document that confused many prospective clients who wanted to invest. The sheer length of the agreement, plus the fact that it was used for different types of customers, such as individuals and entities, meant it was a labyrinth to navigate.

As a result, prospects often returned incorrectly filled out agreements. Advisors would send those agreements back with instructions on how to fix it… which the prospect would then resend, creating a paper “merry-go-round”. But when the coronavirus left some reluctant to touch mail packages for fear of contamination, double and triple-handling of paperwork wasn’t just inefficient, but seen as risky by clients and advisors.

Another pandemic-related issue that hit home was the signing of the agreement. Apps like Skype meant client meetings continued without a problem, but the paper agreements had to be signed with a witness who wasn’t a child or spouse: a challenging problem during the lockdowns (if not flat-out illegal, depending on the restrictions).

 Moving into Digital 

The equity fund saw the DocuSign platform as a digital answer to their paper problem. However, converting their complex agreement was more than basic templates or workflows could handle. So, they contracted a team to digitize the agreement and create workflows to automate as much of the process as possible. Once up and running, the new digital flow eliminated the big problems that bogged down the completion of the paper-based agreements.

  • Advisors now fill in the agreement with the client’s details post-meeting, to reduce the risk of errors.
  • They do this through Excel, which lets them upload multiple contract details into DocuSign and bulk send them to all their prospective customers.
  • Once a remote meeting finishes and the prospect agrees, the advisor collects the information they need and then prepares an envelope by uploading the information into DocuSign.
  • When the prospect gets the DocuSign letter, the details are already filled out. All they have to do is to follow the prompts to complete the agreement, as no witness is needed when signing digitally in Canada.
  • Prospects can also comment on any error before they sign, which the advisor can update online in a matter of minutes.

By moving to Digital Signature, the fund has all but wiped out error-filled agreements. The rare error is fixed in a matter of minutes online, instead of a week or two of emailing back and forth. And, instead of trying to find a witness to meet in person (a challenge during lockdowns), everyone can sign the agreement from their office, home, or even their mobile phone.

Most importantly for the fund, they’ve slashed the time between verbal agreement and a signed contract from two to three weeks to a mere 48 hours. The advisors who helped clients through the agreement saved four to five hours working on each application. As the fund sent out around 30 agreements every month, the cost savings with the new process added up to approximately $5,000 per month.

 Business in The “New Normal” 

Whether coronavirus is defeated in the next few months or is part of the “new normal”, the way businesses operate has changed for good. Technologies like Virtual Meetings and Digital Signature have reduced reliance on expensive, time-intensive activities like face-to-face meetings and travel. The unexpected outcome from businesses grappling with the pandemic has been the discovery of a new, more efficient way of working. Organizations who’ve gone all-in with these tools and technologies have inadvertently discovered a competitive edge as business ramps up again.

Digital Signature is a perfect example of this “Edgey” technology. What was simply a way to avoid in-person signing can serve as the bedrock to improve your systems of agreement, helping close agreements faster and find new efficiencies.

 About Solusign 

We’re a team of consultants that extract the ROI from DocuSign subscriptions for SMBs and deliver it on a silver platter. Solusign services include:

  • Template DesignTurn a Word, PDF, or paper form into a reusable DocuSign template prepared for implementation with any workflow your business already has in place.
  • Integration & Automation: Watch the information you collect via DocuSign flow magically into your Salesforce instance or your own choice of software. Automate entire workflows.
  • Consulting & Training: Need a wizard to guide your business down the road to efficient workflows based on the way your business already runs? Ask us about tailored training and workshops.

While DocuSign is a smart investment, implementation delays mean it takes longer to get your ROI. Plus, you may not optimize your systems of agreement, leaving some of your returns on the table. That’s where we come in.

 We’re the world’s first consultancy that looks after everything to make sure your DocuSign implementation is delivering what you expect, from architecture to templates to remote training. 

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We help investment and lending firms automate paperwork by implementing electronic signature solutions.

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