When was the last time you signed a document with electronic signature software? Perhaps it was a housing contract, a non-disclosure agreement, or maybe a new job contract (well done on getting hired!). Research shows that around two-thirds of businesses and one-third of private individuals use e-signatures at least once per month, and it is becoming an increasingly common technology used by a huge range of organizations.
E-signature software is perhaps most typically associated with legal documents, but it can be used in ecommerce, delivery and logistics, subscription services, public petitions, and much more besides! Even small and medium-size businesses are heavily using e-signature software today – and the number is expected to grow by 30% in the next five years.
Despite the rise in electronic signature software, many organizations still rely on traditional paper and ink-based signatures. So, what is an electronic signature — and why are a growing number of companies using this technology?
What is an electronic signature?
An electronic signature, often known as an e-signature, is a unique, legally admissible signature generated by software for each user. When someone creates an e-signature, it can be applied digitally to a document and that individual can re-use their digital signature repeatedly. Just like traditional paper signatures, it demonstrates that the person understands what they are signing and agrees to be bound by certain terms laid out in the document.
When using e-signature software, you simply need to click on a field in a document, then select your signature. The technology can either generate a signature for you based on your name as you type it, but it may also allow you to draw your signature using your mouse, a stylus, or even your finger on a touch screen.
Electronic signatures have been around for over two decades — they were first legalized in the United States in the year 2000, and many other countries today accept them as a legitimate way of signing documents.
Deep dive: Our guide to electronic signatures
What are the benefits of e-signature software?
There are now several e-signature companies providing the technology to securely generate and sign documents digitally. However, if you are happy with pen and paper for signatures, why invest in this tech? Here are five reasons to consider e-signature software for your organization:
Perhaps the greatest selling point of e-signature software is that it allows you to collect signatures for your documents very quickly. Traditionally, if your company wanted to collect a signature from a customer, you would need to print out the document, post it to them, then wait for them to sign it and post it back — a process that could take several days.
By contrast, the best electronic signature software lets customers and business associates receive all manner of documents via email, sign them electronically, then send them back to you directly. This means you can finalize contracts in a matter of minutes.
- More secure
Another benefit of e-signature software is that it allows you to safely create and store digital copies of documents, without any risk of fraud. Reliance on paper and handwritten signatures exposes organizations to a range of risks, including faked signatures, documents getting lost, or even things like fire.
The best electronic signature software allows you to bypass all of these dangers. By building e-signature workflows, your documents, contents, and signatures can be encrypted while they are being sent to your customer and back, as well as when they are stored in secure digital locations. This significantly reduces the risk of security failures.
- Easier onboarding and better experience
Your onboarding process can create a big impression on customers and new employees. The traditional approach to collecting signatures for things like NDA’s, contracts or agreements is often slow and clunky. By contrast, electronic signature software makes the whole process fast, smooth and efficient — which leaves a much better first impression.
- Eliminates paper
By using electronic signature software, you instantly reduce your company’s need for paper when collecting signatures. Not only does this save on the costs of paper, printing, and postage (especially important at businesses which have a high volume of signed documents), but it also reduces the costs involved in document storage and filing. Using e-signature software can potentially save companies enormous amounts of space, reduce their rental costs, or let them repurpose rooms that were previously dedicated to filing.
- Best solution in a post-pandemic world
With more and more staff working remotely today, following traditional paper-based processes becomes much harder. For employees who do not have access to a printer, paper or envelopes at home, sending out documents to customers can only be done on days they’re at the office — and this will reduce their productivity.
However, with electronic signature software, your teams can quickly and easily send off documents to be signed regardless of their location, making this technology perfectly suited to our post-pandemic working world.
Learn more: e-signature use case for your business
Electronic signature software with Nintex
Nintex is a world-leading workflow automation platform that allows businesses to quickly map out key processes, generate contracts, and collect customer signatures. Using Nintex’s e-signature software, you automate the process of collecting signatures, save time and money, all while being secure and compliant.