Monday, July 28, 2014

Making it happen – Five Steps to Ensure your eSignature Project is Successful

Trying to make meaningful changes to the way in which people work usually results in resistance. Whatever the type or source, you will need to overcome this resistance in order to achieve success with your eSignature and Digital Transaction Management projects.

Whether the push-back is explicit (“our legal department will never will never accept this…”) or implicit (“I don't really want to change the way I work, so I won't”), here are five pointers on how to ensure adoption and achieve value:

1. Get buy-in from your legal team
I have long since ceased to be surprised when, long after an organisation has done their due diligence and the lawyers have given the go-ahead for an eSignature project, a stakeholder assures me that there’s no way that legal/risk/compliance will let it happen. It's good that senior people consider legal implications when doing business; unfortunately (but understandably) their grasp of the issues often falls short of that of their specialist colleagues.

Involve your legal team from the beginning; once they're satisfied, ensure that their opinion is communicated to the relevant stakeholders.
Moreover, help your legal team understand what life would be like for them if the risks implicit in executing contracts on paper went away; a Chief Legal Officer can make a powerful Executive Sponsor.
Engaging Professional Services is an effective way of closing the gap between the potential value of your investment and the value that you’re actually realising. Find a vendor with the relevant expertise and make use of it; don’t try to re-invent the wheel.

2. Identify the people who can make the project happen.
Getting buy-in from someone who has enough clout to mandate that people change their processes for the better is essential. With Cloud applications, Executive Sponsors are often on the business side rather than the IT side. If your exec board wants to see greater compliance, reduce cost or have contracts completed quicker, use metrics such as cost savings, turn-around-time and volume to show them exactly how you’ll help them achieve their objectives.

3. Get the security stuff out of the way
Security people, like lawyers, speak their own language. The only way to reassure a security specialist is to let another security specialist do it for you. Get your security team to talk directly to the vendor as soon as possible.

4. Nominate a champion
Once you’ve got the go-ahead, nominate someone to be responsible for driving your Digital Transformation forward. Making their performance ratings dependent on achieving measurable results often helps…

5. Professional Services can help ensure adoption
Cloud deployments differ from many traditional IT projects in that in the Cloud, value is delivered in multiples of one transaction. The more transactions, the greater the value realised.

The technology itself is only one element that governs adoption; how well the application is integrated into the users’ way of working and how you build your DTM program to deploy more use cases are all important factors.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Assumed watertight - Taking the Guesswork out of Contract Execution with eSignature

If you regularly work with contracts, the chances are you routinely do business on the basis of assumptions. There is a better way.

There is an interesting story of how David Geffen, the multimillionaire driving force behind Geffen Records and DreamWorks, got his first break. He was given a job at William Morris, a showbiz agency, on the basis of being a recent graduate of UCLA. The company duly wrote to the university to confirm that the applicant was a bona fide graduate. This left Geffen with a problem: he wasn’t. Undeterred, Geffen used his position in the company’s mailroom to intercept the letter from the university and alter it. The company got their confirmation, and a few years later Geffen was managing Crosby, Stills and Nash.

When executing paper documents, we make assumptions that any signatures are authentic and that the document is unaltered. We make these assumptions because we have to: most of the time, we’re not in a position to witness the signature of the document, nor do we have specimen signatures for comparison.

In the majority of cases, no authentication of the signatures (or, indeed of the integrity of the document) is ever carried out until something goes wrong in the process, often when someone says “that’s not what I signed” or “that’s not my signature.” When that happens, of course, the damage has already been done.

Electronic signatures allow you to secure your document and authenticate signatories before they sign. It is therefore possible to initiate and complete your transactions without leaving the digital world. 

Transacting in the Cloud, of course, requires you to entrust sensitive data to another organisation. Ten years ago, this might have seemed unthinkable, but particularly with the success of, there has been a realisation that a secure vendor infrastructure combined with sound internal security policies can make the Cloud the preferred option.

Standards such as ISO 27001 and SSAE 16 allow like-for-like comparison of vendors and show that all are not created equal. Your choice should be based not only on your own organisation’s security requirements but on the vendor’s ability to allow for authentication methods that are suitable for the type of transaction and help streamline the process rather than hinder it.

Thousands of businesses have come to the conclusion that not only are they not introducing risk by transacting in the Cloud, they are, in fact, reducing it.

Now, organisations have to answer a different set of questions:  “what competitive advantages can digital transactions bring to my business?” and “in the face of increasing competition, can I afford not to do this?”

A Recidivist Insider

For well over ten years, I have been a recidivist insider.

During this time I have had the privilege of being invited to work within dozens of businesses, accompanying them on their journeys towards realising value from their Cloud projects. From overcoming initial reservations to creating business cases and making projects happen, I’ve tagged along for the ride.

Since 2010 I have been involved with all things transaction-based, and for some time led a cloud company whose product handled the deposit of paper cheques (or checks!) for US financial institutions. When I arrived on the scene people thought the idea was so risky as to be unworkable. Four years later, almost every US financial institution offers the facility.

eSignature (within the broader context of Digital Transaction Management) has mirrored Remote Deposit Capture in that it has accelerated from a standing start to the point where it has become inevitable. The big difference is that eSignature is a global phenomenon.

In early 2013 I joined DocuSign, where I support the implementation of eSignature and Digital Transaction Management programs across EMEA.

At each stage in my journey through the Cloud, the fundamental requirement has remained the same: “help me to transact business digitally in a way that makes sense to me, keep my data secure and provide a reliable service”.

I can’t claim to be vendor-neutral, but I do intend that this blog should address some common issues that will be faced by organisations regardless of vendor.

I want to help non-technical stakeholders to understand the concepts that will help them envision what their business would look like in a paperless world, and understand how to begin the transition to a fully digital workplace.

The bleeding edge has long since passed. Cloud, eSignature and Digital Transaction technology has been tried and tested. I’m here to tell you how others have made it work for them, and how you can make it work for your organisation.