Traditionally contracts have always been signed with a pen, or very occasionally a quill. There is something solid and reassuring about ink on a page – it finalises a deal and makes it seem more permanent somehow.
The trouble is that this takes a whole lot of time. To get those signatures on paper you need multiple copies and you either need to post them out or fax them through. Both options run the risk of the copies getting lost or damaged, which can make it more difficult to re-negotiate terms when the time comes.
In the modern, connected world this is something should be a thing of the past. With the software now available, in which someone can access and edit a shared document at the same time as someone else anywhere in the world, there is no need for contracts to be printed off and signed.
I spoke to the head of procurement at a large technology business recently who told me the function is going through a major transformation, of which a very small part was implementing e-sign. This is a feature of many software programmes in which a digital signature can be used to sign off a contract.
It was, the procurement chief said, something that had never really been considered and the head of procurement thought it would be a bit of a pain to do amid everything else that was going on.
Regardless, the procurement head gave one team member a couple of weeks to come up with a change-management plan and get suppliers on board. That person came back after a few weeks and, to the head of procurement’s surprise, said the whole thing had been done and e-sign was now being used.
Better than this though, the team found e-sign saved two or three days from a typical 20-day contracting cycle, which meant they could work on other aspects of the transformation and value-add efforts.
The head of procurement, while speaking to some other CPOs about whether they were using this technology, was surprised and interested to learn around 80% of them were.
With everyone’s time at a premium, something as simple as this that can make a massive difference to efficiency and so should be top of everyone’s to do list.