Negotiations can be a pain. When you finally reach a breakthrough, where everybody is on the same page and ready to sign an electronic document, the last thing you need is another hurdle to clear. If you using PDF contracts, then that hurdle is 2 meters tall. If you’re using digital contracts, then it’s barely a couple of centimeters you have to clear.
When you’ve come so far and are so close to getting a signature, you want it to be as easy as possible. That’s where e-signature tools come into play.
They turn the signing process from a month, week, or days-long process, into one that can be accomplished in hours if all the requirements are met.
A study by Finances Online shows that there’s 55%–78% in total savings on costs for businesses that migrate to e-signature tools —after taking into account material, administration, shipping, and subscription costs.
Moreover, with e-signatures, contract execution time has been reduced from an average of 32.5 days to just two days.
Sign an electronic document
Teams that analyze and organize a lot of contracts, such as legal or finance, work with, on average, five different tools per project. These are
- Word: For creating the document
- Email: For communication between parties
- PDF: For sending a downloadable and uneditable version of the document
- Excel: For information management
- Shared drives: For sharing details across different formats such as slides, sheets, docs, etc.
Effective electronic signature software eliminates all of these. The document can be created and shared from within the tool itself. The recipient gets the document with editable sections, and they can fill out the required information in the aforementioned sections.
E-sign documents for free
A lot of companies offer electronic signature tools. Such as HelloSign, Deel, DocuSign, AdobeSign, and SignNow. They offer a suite of features such as quick signing, a Google Docs integration, and email integrations at an entry-level price.
But, should you want to use applications native to your computers, such as Adobe Acrobat or Microsoft Word, here are step-by-step instructions.
- How to electronically sign a document using Adobe Acrobat
Step 1: Click on the fountain pen icon in the top menu
Step 2: From the drop-down list, select ‘Fill and Sign.’
Step 3: Fill in details where necessary and add initials for the signature.
Since Acrobat is part of the Adobe suite, it is backed by AdobeSign. Acrobat does not offer contract collaboration or automation from within the suite. This can deter efficient teams who like to keep all of their data in one place.
- How to add electronic signatures to a Word document
Word is the default document-creating program on most computers and is widely used to develop contracts. Even though Word offers an electronic signing option, it’s relatively primitive.
Here’s the step-by-step process:
Step 1: Place the cursor where you want to insert the signature
Step 2: From the ‘Insert’ tab, select ‘Text’
Step 3: Then select ‘Signature List’ > ‘Microsoft Office Signature Line’
(This allows you to set up the signature by entering the name of the signing party)
Alternatively, if you’re the recipient of the document and want to sign it, right-click the signature line and pick the ‘sign’ option from the drop-down menu.
But now, you may be wondering, how exactly do electronic signatures help your processes?
Electronic signature use-cases
Here are some examples of situations in which electronic signatures can revolutionize your workflows.
- Employee Onboarding:
Employees can easily become stressed by the excessive paperwork signing that accompanies a new job. There are a lot of moving parts to consider:
- Employee Contract
- Code of Conduct
- Consent for background check
- Pension details
- Health insurance
- Safety Documents
Not to mention that all of these need to be reviewed by different departments, and collaboration can become a nightmare.
Moving this process to an e-signing solution and contract management platform can save both parties hours in admin work, make documents easily searchable (unlike PDFs or physical copies) and store documents safely in cloud storage.
- Customer Contracts
Customers come to you to make their lives easier. Not harder. They don’t want to wade through multiple contracts, missed emails, and pushy follow-ups. They want a one-stop solution that begins and ends with a cursor click. That is what e-signature solutions should provide for them.
Customer contracts are integral to your operations no matter what industry you serve—real estate, consumer goods, banking, finance, or insurance.
If you can send your customers contracts, they can read on their own time and on their own devices, your chances of signing a deal become significantly higher.
A step further would be a contract available to sign on a smartphone, such as a digital one.
E signature API
An e-signature API(application programming interface) is a service that allows people to manage every element of an electronic contract.
- Request online signatures
- Status updates
- Download signed and verified documents
APIs are important because digital signatures use algorithms to verify digital signatures. Encryption software—like the kind present in credit card transactions—is used to authenticate electronically signed documents via APIs.
Electronic signature service comparison
For your teams to be successful, they need to create secure, responsive, and interactive contracts. Those that clients can digitally sign. Features such as live editing are integral to efficient collaboration.
Contract management platforms like Oneflow ensure that only one version of a document exists and that it is stored safely. A version that both clients and the company have access to and can search at any time for crucial details.
Learn more about electronically signing a document on Oneflow’s blog.