Digital Signatures are essential for digital processes

In the past weeks I had interesting discussions about Digital Transformation and the need for Digital Signatures. For an organisation to have fully digital processes, Digital Signatures is one of many different capabilities required, such as imaging paper documents, case management, digital workplace, and workflow support.

In organisations documents originate digitally (first 2 steps in the figure below). However when it comes to finalising a document, like a contract or a performance evaluation, it can be difficult to remain digital. Many processes require one or more persons to sign the document for it to be accepted and reach a formal status. Often this still requires ‘wet’ signatures which requires good planning (or chasing persons that have the authority to sign) to get them on time and results in additional information management costs due to the effort of finding the valid version, printing, scanning, indexing and redundant storage.

Analog process does not allow for Digital Signatures

To keep the process flow digitally, organisations should add a Digital Signatures capability. This eliminates the preparation step from the process and keeps the information flowing regardless of the location of the person(s) that need to sign.  Also the archiving (and access) of the signed version can be automated.

Digital Signatures enables digital processes

Implementing a Digital Signature capability can have different impacts on an organisation, for example:

  • Processes may need to be redesigned. For example the procedure for signing contracts needs to ensure documents are received by the right person(s) which may have been handled by support staff. The governance and registration of signing authorities needs to be well documented and regularly audited.
  • Ways of working with external parties may need to be adjusted to ensure they can sign digitally or accept your digital signature.
  • The organisation needs an up to date register as the source for the Digital Signatures solution to ensure only authorised personnel can sign. This should also include business rules for delegation, escalation and counter signing.
  • The role of secretaries / personal assistants changes because there is no need to print and present documents for signing.
  • The Digital Signatures solution, using both Advanced and Qualified Certificates, needs to be fitted into the IT landscape and is ideally integrated into the business applications

In a future post I will discuss the Digital Signature capability in more detail.