electronic signatures

Posted by Romeo Elias on Mon, Dec 12, 2016 @ 11:06 AM

After the advent of electronic record keeping and digitized business processes, the natural evolution for companies was to support electronic signatures.  The technological requirements to support this feature have been around for some time but the laws and regulations had to catch up.  Today, electronic signatures are very common and legally accepted in numerous industries to meet a wide variety of use cases and regulations. There are also many online signature tools like DocuSign and Adobe Sign (formerly EchoSign) that have become standard for applications in real estate, contracts, and insurance transactions.

Given the flexibility in interpretation of the applicable laws and regulations, there are many ways for business software systems to support electronic signatures.  Here are a few of the requirements you should consider when evaluating software options:

1. Association

Is the electronic signature associated with the specific electronic record or document that is being reviewed?  There has to be a technological and auditable way to link the electronic signature to the record.  This can be accomplished by taking a snapshot of the record when digitally signed and associating that snapshot with the signature.  It can also be accomplished by encoding the signature and other parameters to the specific document, i.e., inside the PDF or Word document itself.

2. Authentication

How do you ensure that the user digitally signing is authenticated? This can be accomplished in a number of ways.  Some systems rely on the user simply being logged in as a form of authentication and when digitally signing, the assumption is that it is the same person.  However, more stringent regulations like the FDA’s 21 CFR Part 11 require more verification that the user digitally signing is the same person and this can be accomplished by requiring the user to enter their password again at the point of digital signature to ensure authentication.  Some systems go further and require that the user maintain two separate signatures, one for the logging into the system and another for signing.

3. Auditability

How do you track and maintain a historical record of the electronic signature? Many systems provide a full historical trail of who signed the document or record and when it was signed.  Given the nature of electronic data and that it can be changed, some go further and track the exact information that was signed off on at the time of signature, so there is an exact record of what exactly was reviewed, even if the data changed later on.

Electronic signatures are critical for meeting compliance and for a comprehensive Quality Management System (QMS), among many others. In the not too distant future, electronic signatures will permeate all aspects of our lives.  I am sure the technology will evolve further and leverage other types of authentication and means of signature that we haven’t conceived of yet.

Tags: Paperless, Paperless Office, electronic signature, Document Control, QMS, Quality Management System, Quality Management Software, Workflow, BPM, Audits

Why It's Crucial that Your Business Go Paperless

Posted by Chris Fisher on Mon, Apr 11, 2016 @ 02:30 PM

Over the past few years, businesses around the world, regardless of scope and industry, have made the move to paperless, which includes documents such as contracts and invoices as well as automated business processes required for digital transactions, approvals, and eSignatures. While no business may be 100% paperless, there are many advantages to making the transition. Of course, if your business has been using and relying on hard copies of documents for several years, a change in practice will take time. To convince you of its importance, here is a look at why it is crucial that your business go paperless:

  • Focus on the Essential Tasks: Did you know that a room full of documents, complete with images, in high-resolution color, could be stored on one hard drive? For a business, this means going paperless can result in savings on storage costs as well as reduced hassle for dealing with mountains upon mountains of documents. In addition, it is frustrating to look for a single document and have to sift through dozens of files. If you move to a digital database, this will hardly take a couple of seconds. To put this simply, you can focus on the essential tasks and do away with the menial stuff by going paperless.
  • Keep Your Documents Secure: Creating a backup for documents stored digitally is convenient and hassle-free. In addition, the documents you stored online are synced on the cloud. In case of a disaster, natural or otherwise, you will still be able to access your documents, as and when required. This ensures greater security for your documents.
  • Boost Your Business’ Velocity: In today’s fast-paced business environment, you have to keep pace with the competition to not just survive, but also thrive. Going paperless and automating business processes is an effective way to boost your business’ velocity. You can speed up internal processes, improve your compliance for any audit or regulation, and streamline your dealings with your clients. Servicing clients quicker will result in more sales and repeat business.

In addition to these benefits, which affect the bottom-line, a move away from paper will benefit your business’ reputation as well. Existing and potential customers will view your business as responsible, as reducing dependence on paper means fewer trees have to be cut down, hence benefiting the environment.

So, as you can see, going paperless is the way to go, if you want to take your business to the next level. If you’d like to learn more and create a Proof of Concept app with Intellect, click here for a free trial. http://www.intellect.com/free-trial

Tags: Paperless Office, Business Automaton, Workflow and Business Process Management