From XU Magazine, 
Issue 18

How e-signing can simplify your practice processes

When was the last time you received a contract, or letter of agreement, and thought to yourself, ‘I cannot wait to print this and sign it’? In the wake of life (and business) becoming increasingly online, e-signatures, or online document signing, are becoming a much wider part of the technology ecosystem…
This article originated from the Xero blog. The XU Hub is an independent news and media platform - for Xero users, by Xero users. Any content, imagery and associated links below are directly from Xero and not produced by the XU Hub.
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Earlier this month, SuiteFiles launched our very own document signing functionality into the platform. The biggest reason for this was the sheer number of people asking for it, and the fact that other online signing systems were a challenge to integrate, but the bigger question was why do we need to sign online at all? And how does it work?

1. It is quick and easy

Signing a document online should be a simple and straightforward process. This was our number one focus when designing this new feature within SuiteFiles. It takes less than a minute to set up a document for signing and to send it through to your recipients. They are automatically notified by email, and reminder emails are built into the process. Online signatures negate the issues created by doing business on a national or even global scale, making remote signing and document authentication simple.

2. E-signatures bring us another step closer to the paperless office

Physical files are easier to lose, they do not automatically back up, they are difficult to quickly flick through to find what you are looking for, and for most accounting practices, they complicate everything by not easily integrating into the Cloud systems you are using. E-signatures remove the need to print, sign, scan and re-upload a document, all of this is done online, without a single paper file being created.

3. They help automate a number the signature request and receipt process

In the case of our own document signing, as well as in the case of many others, e-signatures make requesting and receiving signatures more automated. Simple select the document you want to sign, select the contacts you wish to send them to (in our case this is done from your XPM (Xero Practice Manager) contacts, so it is harder to select the wrong recipient) type a message and hit the button. This process removes any manual emails you will need to send, and you will also be notified when everyone has signed your document and it is ready for whatever the next step is.

4. E-signatures create a single document and one source of truth for the signed version

No matter whether a document needs to be signed by one person or 100, e-signatures store all those signatures on the same document and version in the same location. The minimise the risk of previously email versions being printed and signed in error, and avoid people needing to physically pass a printed version to the next person for their signature. The signed version is held securely online, in our case within your existing cloud file structure, meaning there is no risk of uploading into the wrong place or the wrong version.

5. They are faster for people to action, and save everyone valuable time

Without the need to print, fill out, sign and re-upload, it is faster for both the recipient and the requester to sign digitally. Especially if your practice
is sending out hundreds of documents for signing at any one point in time, these time savings quickly add up. This point is even more relevant if you are working with clients who are not in your immediate vicinity, e- signatures do not require a courier or passing between multiple locations. SuiteFiles also allows for users to be prompted if they have not signed by a set date, and the document is due to be signed.

6. Online signing is secure and improves document traceability

Paper files can be lost, stolen, accidentally destroyed by coffee or puppies and are subject to a number of others ‘threats’. An e-signature means that the document is stored securely online, they record all the required evidence about when a document was signed and leave a unique electronic mark for each user. Not to mention that is almost impossible to lose a document that securely stored in the Cloud. In the age of fingerprint recognition and Face ID, the idea of just scribbling a name seems almost antiquated.

7. Smooth processes make for happy people

The more effective the process, the happier those on the receiving end of it are, and the more likely it is they will complete it quickly. No-one wants to be sitting around waiting for a document to be signed so they can get on with their job. But on the flipside, no-one wants to have to find a printer, print  a document, sign it, and then email, or worse, courier it back. If you make this process a simple, online, five minute affair instead of a Lord of the Rings length saga, it is much more likely your document will come back signing correctly and on time.

There are enough time-consuming processes in the world of accounting, adding a physical signature to the end of them is not benefitting anyone. If you can incorporate e-signing into your practice, you will remove a few convoluted processes, and save a bunch of time (and therefore money) in the process.

Why leave it there?

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