The Speed and Efficiency of E-Signatures in Procurement!

E-Signatures

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E-Signatures article and permission to publish here provided by Mariana Wilona.

In the procurement profession, speed and efficiency are key. There is just too much time and money that can be wasted on a daily basis while signing paper documents. From formatting and printing off forms, scanning, signing to reformatting again before hitting the send button.

For a one-off, that doesn’t sound too bad. However, when the process has to be repeated over hundreds to thousands of times, it can become a cumbersome process and an expensive investment. Electronic signature platforms allow you to sign multiple documents within seconds, on the go.

Why Speed and Efficiency are Crucial in Procurement?

Procurement teams are always on the hunt for better ways to boost the speed of their processes. They do so by getting rid of inefficient activities and processes. This is because such activities end up introducing delays, which in turn impact their workflow negatively.

More so, these delays could result in penalties for late contracts. In the end, your business could suffer from higher costs, lost opportunities and compliance risk. In that case, electronic signature options can come in to help you avoid these delays and streamline your processes.

Not only is the process of looking for signatures tedious but it can also lead to major delays. This particularly comes into play during a contract management process. Contracts are the key elements of solidifying ties between businesses, vendors, partners and clients. Before the execution of these contracts, signatures have to be appended on agreements and other documents.

The use of electronic signatures in automation shortens the time spent in sourcing signatures and hastens the whole process. Note; contract management is the foremost area where electronic signatures are used. This is because it forms the basis of supplier management, purchase and sourcing processes of procurement.

Customer contracts are also key beneficiaries of e-signatures, given that this is what seals relationships between your department and customers. In that case, if your business is looking to speed up processes and achieve efficiency, electronic signatures will truly benefit you. Digital solutions not only help businesses operate efficiently but also prevent the mismanagement of documents, reports and shipments.

Procurement Automation

Most companies are reluctant in the transitioning of their physical signatures to online signing. Besides the time saved by electronic signing, there are many other benefits that come with it. E-signing makes it easy for your clients to sign contracts anywhere, any time. You are also able to track workflow and forward reminders. This will allow your business to register a measurable boost in document activity and productivity. It will, in turn, impact your business bottom-line.

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In procurement, there are endless documents that require your attention. There is a workflow that focuses on SOWs, REP sign-offs, purchase orders, supplier compliance among others. By using the best electronic signature software, with e-signing your team can focus on other activities and spend less time tracking the signature process, while you get the guarantee of data protection and security. Printing documents and making delivery arrangements creates delays and wastes too much time.

Documents, such as contract documents and evaluation reports are signed electronically without scanning, emailing or photocopying. E-signatures promise reliability, security and authenticity. The following are some of the added benefits of an electronic signature in procurement:

• Cost saving

• Simplified processes

• Compliance

• Quick signing of contracts

In procurement, every process relies on approval and documentation. From quotation requests, purchase requisition to purchase orders and contracts, each procurement step must be read clearly, approved and properly filed before getting to the supply chain.

If in any of these steps a delay is experienced when fetching signatures, the whole process will get into a major halt. Frequent delays will ultimately interfere with your company’s ability to deliver and compete. Even when different teams have to work remotely, with the help of e-signatures, documents can be easily sent and tracked without holding up the approval process.

With the different levels of approval needed in procurement, businesses can enjoy the benefit of verification evidence normally embedded in the e-signs. The evidence is often inclusive of the status of the signer, identity, as well as, the time of signing.

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It is also worth noting that procurement documents have to be legally binding and must observe compliance. Advanced electronic signatures can provide a unique basis of certification, giving the assurance of user authenticity and identity. This means that in some cases, they can be legally used as evidence in a court of law. While different countries present varying statutory requirements, be sure to verify that the signature you are using offers digital certificates.

Electronic Signatures are Different from Digital Signatures

Among many prospective buyers, there has been notable consistency in confusion around electronic signatures. Many do not understand what these constitute. The confusion stems from the terms digital and electronic signatures.

While all digital signatures are considered electronic, not every e-signature is digital. Digital signatures, particularly Public Key Infrastructure (PKI), rely on cryptographic processes in decoding and encoding data. E-signatures are the digital version of physical signatures.

The best implementation method of e-signatures will vary from one business to another. If your company has low risk tolerance, you might want to use them just for low-risk documents. With the right implementation, the signatures will streamline your workflow and result in great savings.

It is crucial that you set solid rules for periods in which the e-signatures should be used and how they should be implemented. As soon as this framework is set on the ground rolling, your procurement challenges will be smoothened.

Originally written for Supply Chain Game Changer and published on June 18, 2021.

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