Unprecedented market disruption is forcing even the most conservative organizations to adopt new ways of doing business. With face-to-face interactions limited by the COVID-19 pandemic, digital has quickly become the default. The digitalization of previously paper-based processes has shown organizations the benefits an end-to-end digital experience can bring to customer satisfaction, operational productivity, and more. One of the key features of a 100% digital approach to business is the use of electronic signatures, or eSignatures.

Signatures are key to sales and compliance workflows so adding eSignatures to business workflows has the potential to be a quick win for many organizations. Although eSignatures have been recognized as legally binding since 2000, most organizations still struggle to adopt end-to-end digital processes that truly leverage eSignatures. Too often, physical copies of signed documents are still required. At a time when organizations are only as fast as their slowest moving parts, relying on physical documents reduces organizational competitiveness and scalability.

What Is an Electronic Signature?

An electronic signature is electronic data that holds the same legal weight as a physical signature. eSignatures have the power to replace physical signatures in virtually any process, and offer multiple benefits for organizations and their customers.

  • Greater efficiency: Processes can be completed much faster with eSignatures, and no paper management is required. For example, financial services firm FineMark reduced their client onboarding process from 12 hours to just one click by implementing eSignatures.
  • Enhanced security: eSignatures enable a secure way of preventing fraud and are in many ways more secure than physical signatures. Boehringer Ingelheim, one of the 20 biggest pharmaceutical companies in the world, reduced errors by 88% by adopting eSignatures and automating many of their processes.
  • Cost savings: Using eSignatures saves time, resources and paper, especially for organizations that are growing on a global scale. Implementing eSignatures allowed Kelly Services, one of the world’s biggest staffing companies, to increase productivity by 60%.
  • Competitive advantage: Customers today expect immediate fulfilment of their needs. If given the choice to print, physically sign, and fax or mail documents, or to handle signatures digitally, most will prefer the second option. Implementing eSignatures can facilitate faster, more accessible self-service applications, providing a better customer experience and giving your organization a competitive edge.

Challenges of eSignature Integration

As organizations transition documents from paper-based repositories to the cloud, the workflows attached to those documents and the approvals they undergo—including the whole document processing efforts—should also be digitalized. The technological and legal solutions necessary to enable eSignatures are there for the taking. Why, then, are so many businesses still struggling to leverage eSignatures and implement fully digital workflows?

The difficulty of integrating eSignatures is one aspect of a bigger problem: the wider need for digital transformation and the challenges of executing a 100% digital approach to doing business. The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated the urgency of digitalization and increased the burden on developers, who are tasked with integrating complex eSignature workflows into business applications and delivering engaging user experiences quickly.

Integrating third-party eSignature services into organizational workflows can prevent time-pressed developers from having to reinvent the wheel. However, adapting eSignature services to the organization’s needs requires developing and maintaining custom connectors based on the provider’s APIs. When time is of the essence, traditional coding methods often slow this process down.

Enter modern development solutions.

A modern application development platform can empower developers to quickly integrate eSignature services into business workflows. OutSystems, for example, is a visual full-stack platform that allows developers to work on all the layers of an application; from the front-end and logic layers to the back-end business process and data layers. It also allows developers to extend the platform capabilities with any kind of integration, including REST, SOAP, cloud services, enterprise systems, databases, and the over 3300 ready-to-use connectors that can give developers a quick start in integrating with various providers in a secure, scalable manner—including eSignature components. 

How to Easily Add an E-Signature to Your Apps: Introducing the DocuSign API Component

The DocuSign API component is available on the OutSystems Forge, and it allows you to create, manage, and send eSignatures using one of the most popular eSignature tools out there: DocuSign.

This connector allows applications to use DocuSign API to retrieve user information, send envelopes with documents for signature, and get envelope status. To see how easily you can add DocuSign services to  your mobile apps take a look at my demo in my recent TechTalk

Beyond eSignatures: Empowering Digital Transformation

In order to leapfrog the competition, organizations must have the capability to innovate through software, producing applications that are unique to the business and can continuously adapt along with the organization. A modern application development platform offering a visual, full-stack development experience empowers organizations to quickly react to changes in the market and deliver rich, engaging experiences in a timely manner.

Integrating eSignatures is a key step on the journey toward digitalization. By enabling developers to build custom software that can be changed with agility to keep pace with ever-changing business needs, OutSystems can help organizations achieve their digital transformation goals.

Want to learn more about how OutSystems streamlines eSignature integration? View the on-demand webinar “From Paper-Based to Digital: The Ins and Outs of eSignatures” for a demo.