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E-signatures make agreement processing 80 percent faster: PASA speaks with DocuSign ANZ VP Nick Slater

The NSW Government is “going digital” with signatures for procurement contracts. 

From the new financial year all procurements more than $150,000 will require digital signatures through the buy.nsw Supplier Hub. 

NSW Minister for Customer Service and Digital Government Victor Dominello said it was time for government follow the many businesses already using digital signatures. 

In the procurement profession, speed and efficiency in known to be key and the acceleration of digital transformation has broadened the spotlight for procurement automation technologies such as e-signatures since the pandemic. 

PASA spoke with Nick Slater, ANZ Regional Vice-President at DocuSign on all things e-signatures from cost impacts to savings of up to $36 per agreements and meeting Environment Social and Corporate Governance ESG targets. 

What impacts are you seeing with e-signatures being rolled out across ANZ? 

The impacts of e-signatures and digitisation as a whole are huge for businesses. When it comes to productivity, it cuts out printing, scanning, faxing, mailing, and everything else that is required when using paper. It also enhances the experience for your employees, because it means that they do not have to sift through piles of paper, trying to find the right place to sign. As for the customer, it gives back valuable time in the deal-making process and streamlines the process to keep it simple and easy for everyone involved.

The pandemic changed everything in terms of digitising businesses. Companies needed ways for deals to be done remotely, as everything was shifting from in-person to online. One such business that comes to mind is Sydney Sotheby’s International Realty. They needed to shift their contract process so that deals could be finalised remotely, but this was part of a bigger plan to simplify the home buying experience for their customers.

Sotheby’s implemented DocuSign as a way to simplify the user experience. This is because houses were selling much faster, and a lot more buyers were putting down deals from different states. The Managing Director of the company, Micheal Pallier said the speed of digitising the contracts meant that his buyers now spent more time deciding on golf clubs than signing away their house. This is a testament to how much time digital tools like e-signatures can save.

How do you think e-signatures can benefit procurement professionals? 

Electronic signatures make procurement processes much faster and more efficient. Our research shows that agreements can be turned around 80% faster than paper-based processes, whilst also providing an audit trail of its status.

When talking about the economic benefit specifically, our research shows that the average cost saving is $36 per agreement. As well as the financial savings,  the environmental impact of adopting e-signatures and going paperless is much more than people anticipate. The average Australian uses 50kg of paper per year – so going digital is something that should be done sooner, rather than later.

Another important benefit for procurement professionals is the increase of security and trust with their agreements. Along with an Australia-based data centre, DocuSign completed an independent assessment of DocuSign eSignature as part of the Infosec Registered Assessors Program (IRAP) at the ‘Protected Level’. This means that DocuSign eSignature has been evaluated against a comprehensive list of over 800 security controls to ensure critical data is protected. The assessment allows procurement professionals to confidently use the eSignature solution with their sensitive documents and data.

What do you think is coming next with the evolution of this technology for contracts and e-signatures? 

DocuSign’s vision has always been to digitise paper agreements and, ultimately, make them smart. Having been one of the earliest participants in the field, we’re continually investing in smart contract technology to bring new innovations – one such is our Insights product. 

By drawing on a proven combination of AI technologies – including natural language processing, machine learning, latent semantic indexing, OCR and rules-based logic – DocuSign Insight manages and analyses all agreements across your business, delivering rich insights your teams can take action on. 

It works by creating a searchable index of all agreements across your business, whether from one or more DocuSign instances, enterprise systems like Dropbox and Sharepoint, and even file repositories. PDFs and image files are searchable, too. 

Then, to identify agreements that matter, you can filter agreements and apply advanced keyword searches. The engine also enables you to surface risks and opportunities, leveraging pre-built concepts common to contracts. 

All the insights are clearly visible via a customised reporting dashboard, delivering the critical knowledge you need to manage all the agreements on which you’ve built your business. 

What tips would you give procurement professionals who want to drive e-signatures into their business? 

There may be a perception that digital transformation is a long and arduous project, but in reality, getting started with electronic signatures is easy and a quick tool to implement to save you time and show value instantly for your business. Making small steps to the digitisation of your business will reap environmental and economic benefits – so it is something to get started on sooner rather than later.

Platforms like DocuSign make the process straightforward and simple. We also understand the importance of security when it comes to classified documents,  as security and trust are intrinsically linked to organisational productivity in a digital-first world. DocuSign ensures that the entire transaction is safe and secure.

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