Digital Signatures for Document Workflow and SharePoint

As business-critical processes continue to make their way onto
SharePoint, they create an increasingly prevalent need for secure,
legally-enforceable, and manageable automated signature capability.
This is due in part by the fact that, without a digital signing
capability within SharePoint, paper is introduced into otherwise
automated processes each time the need for a signature
authorization arises, thus creating the need to print, manually
route, track, and archive paper documents. In addition to
increasing organizational costs and inducing process delays, this
reliance on paper hinders the enhanced efficiency and collaboration
companies seek to achieve via SharePoint.

While there are digital signature solutions out there that offer
quick, seamless integration with SharePoint and a low total cost of
ownership, it’s natural for organizations that haven’t yet invested
in signature automation to wonder what the real benefits of doing
so would be. Addressing this concern, AIIM-a leading authority in
the field of document management and workflow automation-conducted
a first-of-its-kind research that surveyed both digital signature
users and non-users and reports on the perceived and actual
benefits of digital signatures in SharePoint. The study,
Digital Signatures for Document Management in SharePoint, which
is available for free download, explores the impact of signature
authorizations on business processes across industries by examining
such topics as: the number of business processes or documents
require formal signatures, the amount of time the need for a
signature approval adds to a workflow, and the number of documents
are printed solely for the purpose of obtaining signature
approvals. Here are some results:

Q: Considering the documents that are printed out as
part of your formal approval processes, what proportion would you
say are printed for the purpose of adding one or more
(Respondents: 290 non-digital signature


 Document Workflow

The AIIM study found that in 42% of organizations without a
digital signature solution, three-quarters or more of printed
documents are printed solely for the purpose of obtaining
signatures. Considering the price of paper and of routing documents
to the appropriate signers, and the time it takes for employees to
fulfill this process, there is a heavy burden created by
paper-based signatures which digital signatures in SharePoint can

Q: On average, how much time would you
say is added to the end-to-end process as a result of a physical
(Respondents: 196 non-digital signature

Document Workflow

For 68% of respondents, at least one day is added to process
times solely because of the need to obtain paper-based
authorizations. For 23% of respondents, the added time is an entire
week on average.


Here are some of the key findings from AIIM’s study:

  • Speeding up the approval process and saving staff time are
    considered to be the biggest benefits by those who have implemented
    a digital signature solution.
  • 63% of digital signature users achieved ROI in 12 months or
  • On average, 3.5 additional photocopies or fax copies of process
    documents are produced just to collect signatures.
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