Documents drive nearly every business process. From the contracts that spell out client expectations to invoices, purchase orders, and receipts, there is a trail of records intended to ensure operations run smoothly. Most forms and documents can now be prepared and stored in a digital format, creating a streamlined approach to archiving and retrieving information. However, many organizations continue to rely on a manual document workflow. Unfortunately, the traditional manual method presents significant obstacles to accurate, efficient document processing.
The Challenges of Manual Document Workflows
Though businesses have fully adapted to the use of electronic communications tools, like instant messaging and email, many people still create and manage business documents through an outdated manual document workflow. This method requires staff members to expend the time required to draft customized versions of even the most routine documents.
When these paper documents require review and/or approval from multiple parties, delays and errors are common. Signers pass physical documents back and forth throughout the office, increasing the likelihood of misplacing items. In situations where changes or corrections are necessary, the time required to complete the entire approval process manually is substantially longer as compared to more efficient digital workflows.
Determining the status of approvals in complex business transactions presents a significant challenge – especially when they involve multiple stakeholders. Tracking the location of physical documents is particularly difficult, and the unexpected absence of a key stakeholder can derail the entire process. Organizations are turning to digital document workflow and e-signature technology to simplify and speed these processes.
The Benefits of Integrating E-Signatures into Your Document Workflows
Transitioning to a digital document workflow that relies on e-signatures streamlines the entire operation. Combining the ease of e-signatures with the power of dedicated Business Process Management (BPM) platforms can result in the following benefits for your document workflows:
Embedding of Digital and Electronic Signatures in Complex Processes
While a lot of e-signature solutions come with workflow capabilities, they simply cannot support complex, highly customized processes. BPM software allows you to easily embed digital signatures and electronic signatures (what is the difference) in highly customized workflows, wrapping the all capabilities of an advanced BPM platform and benefits of e-signatures into your processes. Since highly customized workflows are, by their very nature, highly complex processes, this feature offers substantial benefits.
The more complex a process is, the more complicated the background code. Highly-capable BPM platforms integrate digital signatures into workflows by configuring a connector on top of your process. This means there is no need to touch the source code or risk adding errors by changing the process.
Integrating e-signatures into your workflows also allows you to automatically track documents in complex processes. On top of your BPM platform’s email notification and document management capabilities, digital signature integrations add the ability to automatically track documents and create audit trails from the e-signature platform. This way, you always know the status of critical documents – even when workflows are complex.
Automation of Contract Generation and Execution
The addition of digital signatures offers you the ability to automate contract generation and execution, even using physical document templates. You can create templates or upload physical documents using an e-signature platform, then add signatures and additional fields to the document, so users can fill out forms digitally. By integrating e-signatures into your BPM platform, you can incorporate templates from your e-signature platform in your processes. This allows you to automatically generate contracts and route them to the appropriate stakeholders by configuring the appropriate routing rules in your BPM platform.
After setting up the routing conditions, you can then automate processes end-to-end, increasing efficiency and accuracy. One of the most popular features available in BPM software is the automatic notification system. You are able to program the system to alert you when contracts are executed so that you always have up-to-date information on the status of each outstanding item. Paired with the notification capabilities of e-signature platforms, you not only know the status of your document but the status of your entire workflow as a whole.
Reduction of Contract Review Times
Manual document processes put critical documents in the hands of one stakeholder at a time. BPM software offers far more transparency. These platforms provide a centralized location where all stakeholders can submit and review information at any time, from anywhere.
Processes feature programmable routing rules and conditions that send contracts to the appropriate parties at a predetermined point in the process. This dramatically reduces the length of time required to complete document processing. Field validations set through e-signature platforms to ensure signers enter the correct information and minimize errors. You can also designate required fields to prevent signers from submitting incomplete information.
Improved Accountability, Traceability, and Compliance of Contracts and Legal Documents
Staying well within regulatory boundaries is a high priority for your business, and quality document management processes are critical for achieving this goal. Through the use of digital document workflows and e-signatures, you immediately improve accountability, traceability, and compliance of contracts and legal documents.
Both BPM and e-signature platforms provide an automatic digital audit trail, giving visibility into processes for auditors and third parties. Assign fields to specific signers to further increase visibility and pinpoint the source of errors and omissions. Designation of required fields and field validations help your organization avoid non-compliance due to incomplete or incorrect information.
Automatic notifications set in your BPM platform remind signers and stakeholders when contracts are due or have been executed. They also ensure you create a process where missed submission deadlines and expiration of documents only occur under exceptional circumstances. The most innovative BPM solutions offer transparency into any remaining process inefficiencies by monitoring key performance indicators (KPIs). Reporting tools display data on the performance of workflows so that users can identify issues and continuously improve document workflows.
After an organization has made the transition to electronic document processes, integrating e-signatures is the final step for maximum efficiency. Through the use of e-signature technology, you can track documents throughout their journey to take the uncertainty out of contracts. Use alerts to ensure fast notification of changes in document status. Customize e-signature fields to verify that signers enter information completely and accurately. With e-signature integrations, your documents get approved the first time. ProcessMaker offers integrations with two leading e-signature platforms, DocuSign and Adobe Sign. To increase the speed of your document workflow with e-signature integrations, contact the experts at ProcessMaker.