e-Signature – A Not So Recent Revolution

Dictionary.com defines an electronic signature as “electronic proof of a person's identity” or “a technology that allows a person to electronically affix a signature or its equivalent to an electronic document.” By comparison, a signature is a “stylized script associated with a person”. Increasingly, in commerce and the law, a signature and an e-signature are equivalent. But you probably already knew this.

But did you know that the concept of an e-signature has been around since as far back as the mid-19th century? That’s correct; the concept itself is not new. Common law jurisdictions having been recognizing telegraph signatures as far back as the mid-1800’s and more recently, faxed signatures since the 1980s.

Today, millions of e-signatures are affixed to electronic documents every day, in almost every industry. If you’ve bought a house, purchased insurance, applied for a loan, or even paid your taxes online, in the last 10 years you’ve most likely experienced an e-Signature process. Not surprisingly, e-Signature like many other technology advances, have been adopted very slowly in the construction industry. Similar to enterprise software adoption, very few organizations currently use e-Signature. Some have begun exploring it, and many are inexplicitly against it. But that’s changing quickly.

Why the resistance? Perhaps it’s a fear of change, or maybe it’s the perceived legal risk, a lack of understanding, or even simply indifference to doing things better, the construction industry needs to catch up and begin using online e-Signature capabilities.  

Think through this scenario with me…

A construction owner manually processes and signs 1,500 documents a year.
Each document takes 20 days to review, approve, sign, and submit.
The final process takes 10 days to complete and close.
If we assume that the printing, routing, and signature steps make up 70% of the total processing time, this equates to 21 days to get the signature approvals done! Image the impact you could have by implementing a system that supports electronic routing and e-signature capabilities, not to mention the trees that can be saved!

e-Builder Enterprise w/e-Signature streamlines document processing, eliminates printing costs, and creates a legally-binding digital signature. DocuSign is pre-integrated with e-Builder Enterprise to enable any PDF documents to be electronically signed as part of a workflow process.

 

 

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