By Anthony J. Lockwood
Dear Desktop Engineering Reader:
With the reaction I got, you would have thought I had on a tutu. We had to blow the socks out of the $900 loafers the suits from NY wore by coming up with 10 money-savings tips for our office. One of my recommendations — also a time, which equals money, saver — was to change the process so that the ad coordinators e-mailed digitally signed insertion orders to advertisers for their signature rather than print out, sign, fax, then log the form. Technology could do it in a click. Let the client fax the form back or sign it digitally. “Digitally signed” at that hi-tech publishing company did not compute.
It’s a pity, but a lot hi-tech outfits even today slow their process because digital signatures are not used. Reasons range from regulatory audit concerns (certification/security of the signatures), software expense, and senior management that does not see the need for the technology. Look, stopping the process for physical sign-offs around the office and between locations is not saving a penny. It’s burning dollars. The expense grows exponentially with the number of pages and signatories. So, ask yourself: You’ve digitized design, analysis, prototyping, collaboration, document management, lifecycles, and even your telephone receptionist, but you demand ink for sign-offs? What’s with that?
If you dig into it, few if any objections to digital sign-offs beyond inertia seem to withstand scrutiny. Buttressing my point is a report I caged from a contact at ARX (Algorithmic Research) called “Digital Signatures for Document Workflow and SharePoint.” ARX is considered among the leaders in digital signature solutions from the desktop on up to the mega servers used in engineering, life sciences, healthcare, government, and cloud services. The report is partially underwritten by ARX and by AIIM, a non-profit content management industry think tank.
This is a thorough bit of straightforward work based upon research data. It covers everything from the basics of digital signature technology to the business drivers and features to ROI (return on investment). Responses are from users of digital signature software, those who plan to implement it, and those with no plans. One of my favorite findings: 40% of non-users interrupt at least half of their electronic document workflows for physical sign offs. For 23% of them, this averages out to a process delay of a week or more.
While this 16-page report is over a year old, I’m certain that the findings have changed little. Read this if you’re thinking about digital signature technology or confronting blank stares when you mention it. Can’t recommend it enough. And hit this link to ARX website. They have lots of videos and other resources that make the case for digital signature technology.
Thanks, Pal. — Lockwood
Anthony J. Lockwood
Editor at Large, Desktop Engineering