The Story Behind Signority’s AI Development

The Story Behind Signority's AI Development

A challenging Ecosystem

Ontario is home to a thriving innovation ecosystem with numerous start-ups and SME’s working on cutting-edge technologies and highly focused on innovation within the Canadian industry. However, many of these innovators face severe challenges when it comes to securing funding to develop and scale their projects. As a Canadian start-up Signority, a key player in the eSignature industry, was no stranger to these challenges in 2022, when our paths crossed with the NCFDC.

 

“We’ve had plans to adopt AI technology to enhance the ease of use of our platform for some time, but funding restrictions prevented us from implementing it.”

 

Jane He, CEO and founder of Signority.

An Innovation Ally

The Northumberland Community Futures Development Corporation (NCFDC) is an independent business development corporation dedicated to providing financing and strategy for entrepreneurs based in Ontario, Canada. The NCFDC is committed to supporting local innovators by providing them with the necessary funding to help bring their ideas to life. Through their programs and services, this organization is helping to drive innovation and economic growth in Ontario and in all of Canada, as this is one of its economic centers. They achieve their ultimate goal through a range of funding options, including grants, loans, and equity investments, to help innovators take their ideas to the next level.

 

There are five ongoing programs currently run by a group of passionate and experienced staff. Their goal is to help promote economic development and job creation in the region by providing support to innovative and promising business ideas.

We support innovation and entrepreneurship as a pathway to future prosperity.”

NCFDC

 

ThriveForward_image

thriveFORWARD: The Program that Revolutionized Signority

Signority specializes in providing secure and easy-to-use eSignature solutions to businesses of all sizes. It was founded by a team of entrepreneurs who saw an opportunity to streamline the signing process and reduce paper waste. That was only the beginning. Using this type of technologies, other companies in countless industries have been able to adopt innovation as part of their day to day. 

 

After 10 years of being a key player in the eSignature ecosystem it is key to keep Signority at the forefront of its field. Technology is ever evolving and so are our customer needs. There is one concept that in recent years has become common and furthermore, a synonym of innovation, productivity, and efficacy in the SaaS world: Artificial Intelligence. 

 

AI is a rapidly growing field, and many companies are looking for ways to incorporate AI into their products and services. The goal is to use it to overcome challenges that traditional technologies are not equipped to achieve. Here at Signority, we were at this very stage. 

 

The biggest challenge for companies when adopting eSignature solutions is an ever evolving user with habits that are not easy to change related to document sending and signing processes. This could include team permission hierarchy, different tags and behavior of those tags, messages for senders, types of senders, types of documents or even a mistrust of technology. Every single one of those setups must comply with legal acts, bylaws and privacy policies depending on the document sensitivity. This can be different for each organization or team. Thanks to AI technology, Signority has approached this challenge through an innovative framework.

However, developing AI technology can be a costly and time-consuming endeavor. This is where funding from organizations like NCFDC can be a game-changer. With thriveFORWARD we were able to revolutionize eSignature usability by leveraging AI technology. This translates to more value for users and a user experience taken to the next level.

 

The thriveFORWARD fund was a key aspect of this journey, becoming the fuel to an engine that allowed us to implement fundamental AI components to our platform and revolutionize eSigning. 

 

This achievement represents a critical milestone in Signority’s history, and we’re proud to have created many highly skilled jobs in Canada. We’re grateful to the NCFDC team for helping us realize our vision of building a strong Canadian tech company.” Jane He, CEO and Founder of Signority. 

Our NCFDC Experience

We are extremely grateful for the support we received from the NCFDC. The experience we have had at Signority for applying to the thriveForward SME fund has been highly efficient and pleasant, from the very first touchpoint to receiving the grant. 

 

Entrepreneurship is a wonderful journey but not an easy one. It is filled with long hours, sleepless nights and a lot of unknowns. Frustration is the word of the day almost everyday, for the modern entrepreneur. When an organization like NCFDC truly understands your needs, it can make all the difference in the world.

 

As processes go, lengthy, and confusing explanations were expected, as with any grant request (cue frustration). This is something that would inevitably delay the application process as we got acquainted with all that was required. However, from the very first step, the online application guides were clear and provided enough detail for us to understand what was expected. 

 

Things were looking up, could this be a company that understood what we needed and had a team of people actively working towards helping us achieve our goal? We decided not to get ahead of ourselves and enjoy the clarity and easy journey they offered. 

 

Requirements, eligibility, terms, conditions, and measurement were clear and concise as well transparent and understandable. This translated to a great beginning to our customer journey with them. The site was easy to navigate and finding information was simple, which helped avoid jumping around different pages and losing track of readings. 

 

As with any grant application, as the process continued moving forward questions arose and the need for a human touch was clear. This was when NCFDC proved that they do not only provide services, they provide a whole experience for their users. The staff and consultants were great listeners, they clearly knew their craft but beyond that, they were actively focused on providing the support needed at each stage. They answered all our questions within hours and were ready and willing to provide help regarding all topics needed. Sometimes those topics were not only questions about filling up forms, but a friend who actively reminded us of where we were going. Someone who continuously provided emotional and technical support throughout a tiring journey. 

 

Grants are not easy to apply for, anyone can tell you that. From lots of forms to a myriad of deep data is required to even fit the eligibility criteria. After writing for hours and staring blankly at documents with thousands of questions and spaces that need to be filled out, it can be refreshing to talk to someone who eases that path. There is not much anyone can do to avoid all those forms, but NCFDC proved to us that there is a lot an organization can do to make that journey lighter, calmer and even unique. 

 

The reporting stage was no different. Help was always easy to get, email reminders were constant but evenly spaced, allowing our team to work on the documents with enough time in hand. Not only that but by now we had built rapport with them, we felt we could talk freely and they would listen. By now we had a deeply ingrained belief that they cared about us and understood us. 

 

This made it clear to us this organization is run by highly trained professionals with a clear understanding of their brand vision and values, as well as their goal. As users, our entire experience felt unique, easy, and streamlined. NCFDC made us feel welcome and important. They are a customer centric organization that puts their customers at the center of everything they do. When you find a company that understands your needs more than any other, it’s natural to feel grateful. This feeling is a testament to the quality of their work which reverbated inside Signority. It is important to recognize the efforts of companies like NCFDC and appreciate them. With more companies like this we could all turn the world of business and tech into an even more nurturing and fulfilling experience than it already is. 

 

Our CEO and founder, Jane He, mentioned the following when talking about the experience:  

 

As a Canadian eSignature company competing in the global market, innovation is essential for us to remain a market leader. We’ve had plans to adopt AI technology to enhance the ease of use of our platform for some time, but funding restrictions prevented us from implementing it. Thanks to the thriveFORWARD fund, we were able to develop the fundamental components necessary to build interactive document preparation and improve our platform’s functionality before documents are sent for signatures. This achievement represents a critical milestone in Signority’s history, and we’re proud to have created many highly skilled jobs in Canada. We’re grateful to the NCFDC team for helping us realize our vision of building a strong Canadian tech company.

How Business Relationships play a key role in growth

Singority_AWS_parternship_hockey-game-1.png

How Business Relationships play a key role in growth

Relationships are a key aspect of business, from relationships with employees and internal players that make sure the business runs smoothly to other external relationships that can be key to success.  These Business Relationships are often the results of deliberate efforts on both sides to understand each other’s needs, and help each other grow. The bottom line is, Business relationships are extremely important.  Whether the relationship is between individual  contacts  or a partnership between organizations, these relationships can  build trust between people and companies,  create more opportunities for business, and enhance your standing within the  industry and your community.  

 

It is clear that AWS (Amazon Web Services) still understands this.  As an organization, as big as they are, to still appreciate and recognize the value of meeting your clients face to face is impressive.  Especially after Covid when many are still nervous to go out and get back to ‘business as usual’. 

 

Signority has chosen AWS to host the Signority eSignature Solutions Platform and one of the reasons is their Shared Security Responsibility Matrix, a secure solution that helps Signority maintain high security and privacy standards. They were also chosen for the great importance they give to their Business Relationships and their client support. 

 

In our most recent contact with them as their client, they invited us to come and meet our account manager and another AWS partner, Arctic Wolf,  at an Ottawa Senators hockey game in Ottawa, Canada,  where we are based. You might have heard of this hockey team before, it is the one that movie star Ryan Reynolds wants to purchase, and rumor was circulating that Ryan was at the game that very night..

 

The timing of this invitation was perfect.  Signority is not only going through our SOC 2 TYPE 2 and CSA STAR Level 2 audits, but we had some questions on Quebec’s Law 25, An Act to Modernize Legislation Provisions Respecting the Protection of Personal Information as well as the Canadian federal government’s Protected B.  What better time to discuss some business than while enjoying a great hockey game in great company?

 

At the game (our Ottawa Senators beat the Florida Panthers 5 – 2), our team had the pleasure of meeting our AWS Account Manager Steve Blaszko and his colleagues Michaela Clarke and Gavin Harmon. 

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From left to right: Li Zeng and George Grimes, Michaela Clarke and Steve Blaszko.

We also met Geoff Blair and John Hipp of Arctic Wolf.  Another new relationship that Signority is considering expanding. A great example of what can happen when a business partner listens to your needs – they help introduce you to one of their other partners who may be able to help.

 

This memorable experience could only have happened because we enjoy a functional and nurtured Business Relationship with AWS. One in which we are both open to new conversations on how to expand our relationship and meeting new business contacts who can help improve on the high quality standards we have set for our clients.  But, above all else, our relationship is built on respect and honesty. This is how a well established relationship can play a key role in our growth, and in our entertainment as it seems. 

Geoff Blair at 2023 Hockey Game. 

Cost cutting Move to eSignatures

A Solution to Cost Cutting: Move to eSignature

The global economy has experienced a significant depreciation in recent months. Companies are now forced to cut costs where they can. The tech industry, one that has seen rapid growth in recent years, is facing mass layoffs and hiring freezes

Major companies like Apple, Google, and Meta have lost trillions of dollars amid the stock market crisis. Simply put, companies are struggling. While major enterprises are generally well-equipped to handle an economic downturn, many companies are not so fortunate. 

So, what’s the solution? While placing a freeze on hiring is certainly one way to cut costs, it’s just as important to consider trimming overhead. For most companies, the costs associated with document execution can be quite expensive. 

Some companies still go with the traditional method of printing documents, obtaining signatures, and scanning them in. Others have opted for a simpler method, such as automating documents and signing workflows using services like Docusign. 

Whatever the case may be, the above approaches are not always the most cost-effective. Fortunately, Signority offers a high value and cost-effective service (and DocuSign alternative) that saves customers both time and money.

Cutting costs with digital signing...

Signority is a cloud-based eSignature service provider that simplifies document signing without having to opt for the traditional, time-consuming print/sign/scan method. 

Signority is a great DocuSign alternative primarily due to its pricing structure. While DocuSign pricing is around $35 CAD per month per user for a standard plan, users can purchase a similar plan from Signority for just $30 CAD per month for unlimited users. Interested parties can get started with a free trial now.

With a subscription to Signority, users not only have a way to automate their document signing workflows, but they can also ensure documents are always maintained in a way that provides top-level security and confidentiality. This is made possible by storing all customer data in Canada, a country known to be a leader in security and privacy. 

In addition, Signority’s recipient controls feature adds another layer of security by allowing subscribers to restrict actions such as changing signers or viewing/downloading a document after it has already been executed. Other ways to Increase security include a multi-factor authentication option and masked text (used to hide sensitive information such as SINs/SSNs or birthdays).

...while improving the customer experience

For those considering transitioning to an e-sign service, it’s a great alternative to traditional methods and a great way to improve the customer experience. For example, due to the Covid-19 pandemic there is a hesitancy by many to travel to an office, or anywhere public, just to sign a contract.

Others simply find it inconvenient because they have used e-sign methods in the past and find them much more efficient and secure. Think about it. Less shuffling documents through multiple hands leads to better confidentiality and less room for error. No more missing documents! 

Even further, workloads have doubled for companies that have needed to implement mass layoffs. Automation with a platform like Signority is a cost-effective, fast option to ensure both customer and employee satisfaction.

Cost savings for all

Signority is not just an effective solution for small business owners; it also helps large enterprises by making document execution simple and secure.

The team at Signority understands that enterprise documentation requirements can be complex (e.g., requiring integrations with other apps). Pressure is certainly added when it comes to handling sensitive documents that require the protection of personally identifiable information (PII). The team is always keeping its eyes on any new legislation that arises related to data protection and security. It’s important that Signority customers remain confident knowing their information is safe without any violations.

So, whether you’re looking to cut costs (as many companies are) or simply need a quicker workflow to increase customer and employee satisfaction, Signority may be the best option for you. Sign-up now for a free trial today or contact one of our business professionals.

Educational Institutions Need to Implement eSignatures

Why Educational Institutions Need eSignatures

Educational Institutions Need to Implement eSignatures

In order to keep up with the ever-changing digital world, educational institutions need to implement eSignatures into their operations. Technology has had a tremendous impact on the education sector, and it’s important for schools and colleges to keep up with the latest trends. Electronic signatures are one of the many ways that institutions can modernize their processes.

Here are three reasons why eSignatures are so important for schools:

  1. Efficiency: When administration staff is bogged down with paperwork, it can significantly impact their ability to complete other tasks. eSignatures allow you to sign documents and approvals quickly and easily, without the need for a physical signature.
  2. Security: Documents signed with eSignatures are more secure than those that are not, as they cannot be tampered with or modified.
  3. Compliance: Many government agencies and organizations require electronic signatures for compliance purposes. Using eSignatures can help your school stay compliant with regulations.

Security wise eSignatures a lot more secure than paper. Paper can get lost, stolen, someone can copy it without someone knowing, and it can easily get damaged resulting in the loss of information.  The most secure signature is a Digital Signature. You can learn more about the differences between eSignatures and Digital Signature here.

To be compliant you have to follow certain guidelines and practices that your local governments or industry regulators have set up to ensure the security and safety of the documents and their signatures.

For example, some Canadian educational systems cannot have data that is stored off-site on a server that is located outside of Canada. The data also cannot go outside of Canada’s borders while in transit. This means you have to find an eSignature service like Signority

Signority guarantees your data stays safe and secure in Canada, both in transit and at rest. This means your student’s data will never travel or reside outside of Canada’s borders.

Now, let's look at efficiency.

When I think of paperwork and schools, as a parent, I think of registration forms and permission slips. Let’s use these as our use case.

Each year you have to confirm the number of students who will be returning as well as register any new students. What are some
of the issues you have probably faced when going through this process.

  •  A rush of last-minute parents coming in to register their child(ren) the week before school starts. 
  • Incomplete and missing paperwork with signatures in the wrong place.
  • Trying to get the signatures of both parents when they are divorced or separated. 

With an eSignature platform you can automate the whole process and ensure that all the information is given where it’s required. Now let’s see what the top 6 features that will help you the most.

  1. Automated workflow. With the automated workflow feature set who to send the document package to and in what order. Each recipient receives an email notifying them they have a document. You can even set up auto-reminders that go out if someone takes too long to sign.  
  2. Templates. Setting up the school registration forms as templates means you are always ready to go – all you have to do is enter the parent’s name(s) and emails. And if you need to do 2, 20, or 200 at once, use a bulk sign template to send them in less than 5 minutes! 
  3. Multi-document package. One document package can consist of the registration form health forms, the list of required supplies, and the waiver. Just upload whatever files you need in the package one at a time or using bulk select. They can even be different file formats. 
  4. Automated email reminders. Forget having to pick up the phone or send another email.  This feature allows you to determine when and how often the parents or school staff and officials will receive an automatic email reminder if they haven’t signed the document yet. This simple nudge encourages them to do their part while saving you time. 
  5. Template Link. Put a registration form on the school website so parents or students can register for an event. You can even put the registration form online for new student registrations. 
  6. Masked Tag: A masked tag will take any information entered into it, encrypt it, and conceal it from everyone in the workflow. This feature is especially useful for a student’s personal information like their health card numbers, student numbers, etc.

Having and using these six features in any eSignature platform can save you and your staff time and increase productivity.

BONUS - you help save the planet

There is one more really big benefit to using eSignatures.  Sustainability.  How much paper and printer/copier ink do you go through each year?  I encourage you to check your budget. I’m sure you will find on the paper side, it’s a lot of trees. Remember, “Today is the opportunity to build the tomorrow you want.” ~ Ken Poirot.

Finally, I would like to ask you to consider the other savings you get along with eSignatures being a green technology. You save time and money.

Consider the time it takes to: 

  • chase people for the signed documents,
  • having someone travel to deliver the document,
  • and then filing the document or scanning it back into your system.

Adopting eSignatures into your operations saves an average of $20 per document. Think about that. They save you time, money, and the environment.  But don’t take our word for it, see for yourself with this article on Financesonline.com.

If you would like to learn more about eSignatures and the features available that may help you Signority’s tutorial page is a great resource.

And to see how well an eSignature Platform would work for you then I encourage you to take advantage of our free no obligation 2-week trial.

Look for my next blog where I write about Working from Home and eSignatures

Have a great week everyone

Security Features You Need in an eSignature Platform

Security Features You Need in an eSignature Platform

Your organization has decided to start using eSignatures and you have been tasked with researching the different options available in the marketplace. The first thing you have to do is research the basic security features you need in an eSignature platform.  Then you can move on to the obvious, Price, Ease of use, Scalability, Reviews, and Features.

Why?  Because you need to ensure all your documents and data is protected. You also have to ensure the signatures can be verified.

In order to ensure the integrity and veracity of the final document and signatures you need to be able to:

  1. Secure the document and signatures
  2. Verify the signer’s identities
  3. Protect any confidential information entered
  4. Track the document and signatories
  5. Restrict access

Here are the basic security features you need in an eSignature platform:

  1. Digital Signatures
  2. Masked Text
  3. Signer Identity Verification
  4. Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA) and Single Sign On (SSO)
  5. Audit Trail
  6. Team Account Roles & Permissions

The first security feature you need is a Digital Signature.  Wait… what?  I thought eSignatures are Digital Signatures.  Aren’t they the same thing?

No, that is a common mistake many people make. And it is one that will determine the security of the document and signatures. Here are the definitions as quoted from the post eSignatures vs Digital Signatures

“An electronic signature is information in electronic form (can be sound, symbol, process, etc.) that is associated or attached to a document. This means that so long as we can demonstrate that the signature is associated with a person and that there was intent to sign, everything is legally binding and accepted (all of this can be seen in Signority’s audit trail).

 

A digital signature is actually a form of electronic signature that uses an encryption algorithm that helps validate who the signer is. It also ensures that the document cannot be tampered with, as the signature becomes invalid if the document is changed after signing. This helps prevent repudiation by the signer, making it almost impossible to deny having signed the signature. Essentially, these issues are some of the biggest challenges to electronic signatures, and digital signatures are able to help overcome these issues.”

For a much more comprehensive explanation from a cybersecurity perspective read this post about digital signatures on TechTarget.com.

Next is the Masked Tag.  This tag allows you to protect your signatory’s personally identifiable information (PII) and other confidential information. If you work in the healthcare field for example, you may ask someone for their insurance information.  You want to make sure that no one else sees this information.

Using a masked text tag will allow your signer to securely enter PII into the form where you request it.  The masked tag will conceal and encrypt the information entered once the signer has filled it out.  This means anyone who receives the document for signing after this signer will only see the title of the tag you entered, i.e.: Health Card.

Because the information is encrypted, the person who needs that information, the document sender, will have to follow very specific steps to retrieve that information securely and confidentially.

To help ensure the integrity of a signature you need a Signer Identity Verification feature. This feature will send a one-time use PIN code to the signer either by email or SMS (text message). They will need to have this code in order to access the document.  Once they have used the PIN code to access the document an action will be logged. Using this code verifies the signer received it on an account that can be traced back to them. The log, or audit trail, will document that the signer’s identity has been verified and how it was verified.

And now that you have verified your signers identity, let’s look a little closer to home.  You need to secure access to the eSignature platform. You don’t want just anyone having access to your clients, partners, and company’s information. To do this your organization can either set up Single Sign On (SSO) or a Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA) Login. These sign in methods help restrict access and lower instances of phishing and make it much more difficult for hackers.

As stated in this great explanation of SSO by TechTarget.com, “Single sign-on (SSO) is a session and user authentication service that permits a user to use one set of login credentials — for example, a name and password — to access multiple applications.” This ensures that unless someone can be verified through your companies main system, they cannot get in. The referenced article does a great job of explaining it.

If your company cannot use SSO then the application you select should, at the very least, offer MFA.  As stated at precisely.com, “Multiple factor authentication verifies a user’s identity by combining two or more of the following independent credentials:

  • Something the user knows (e.g.: password, PIN, passphrase)
  • Something the user possesses (e.g.: email account, smartphone, code-generating device)
  • Something inherent to the user (e.g.: fingerprint, iris scan, voice recognition)”

The Audit Trail is the next security feature we will review.  The Audit Trail is a document that comes with your final copy of the signed document. It can be a part of the final document or arrive as a separate document. It has three main components: the meta data, the Signers, and the History. The audit trail will show you who did what action (signing the document), the timestamp associated with the action, their IP Address, and if required any notes. A note can include the ID Authentication method and include a partial email address or phone number. An example confirming SMS ID Authentication in an Audit Trail can be seen in the image below.

 

ID Authentication Audit Trail log

Finally, you need to have the ability to set up team account roles and permissions. The ability to assign roles and permissions helps you keep your documents secure by restricting who has access to what and when. For a clearer understanding of how roles and permissions may be set up you can review the roles available in Signority. You don’t want everyone in your organization being able to view the documents sent by legal or finance, do you?

Here is a bonus feature. The Retention feature. Depending on the industry you work in your organization may be required to have a retention policy. If you are unsure whether you need a retention policy I strongly encourage you to do some research to find out.  Interdyn has a great article called Data Retention Policy 101 that reviews what a retention policy is, the questions you need to ask, and how to set one up.  I highly recommend you read this if you do not have a policy in place.

A retention feature allows you to apply your retention policy to all the documents that have been signed digitally. And a good one will allow give you ways to automate the whole process. This post gives a good overview of a retention feature and the options available within one. You will see it is easy to set up and helps you ensure compliance.

And those are the basic security features you need in an eSignature platform.

Look out for next weeks edition where I will review the differences between Adobe Signature and Signority eSignatures in the post, “Adobe vs Signority“.

Until then, have a great week and stay safe.

Security Features You Need in an eSignature Platform

Your organization has decided to start using eSignatures and you have been tasked with researching the different options available in the marketplace. The first thing you have to do is research the basic security features you need in an eSignature platform.  Then you can move on to the obvious, Price, Ease of use, Scalability, Reviews, and Features.

Why?  Because you need to ensure all your documents and data is protected. You also have to ensure the signatures can be verified.

In order to ensure the integrity and veracity of the final document and signatures you need to be able to:

  1. Secure the document and signatures
  2. Verify the signer’s identities
  3. Protect any confidential information entered
  4. Track the document and signatories
  5. Restrict access

Here are the basic security features you need in an eSignature platform:

  1. Digital Signatures
  2. Masked Text
  3. Signer Identity Verification
  4. Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA) and Single Sign On (SSO)
  5. Audit Trail
  6. Team Account Roles & Permissions

The first security feature you need is a Digital Signature.  Wait… what?  I thought eSignatures are Digital Signatures.  Aren’t they the same thing?

No, that is a common mistake many people make. And it is one that will determine the security of the document and signatures. Here are the definitions as quoted from the post eSignatures vs Digital Signatures

“An electronic signature is information in electronic form (can be sound, symbol, process, etc.) that is associated or attached to a document. This means that so long as we can demonstrate that the signature is associated with a person and that there was intent to sign, everything is legally binding and accepted (all of this can be seen in Signority’s audit trail).

 

A digital signature is actually a form of electronic signature that uses an encryption algorithm that helps validate who the signer is. It also ensures that the document cannot be tampered with, as the signature becomes invalid if the document is changed after signing. This helps prevent repudiation by the signer, making it almost impossible to deny having signed the signature. Essentially, these issues are some of the biggest challenges to electronic signatures, and digital signatures are able to help overcome these issues.”

For a much more comprehensive explanation from a cybersecurity perspective read this post about digital signatures on TechTarget.com.

Next is the Masked Tag.  This tag allows you to protect your signatory’s personally identifiable information (PII) and other confidential information. If you work in the healthcare field for example, you may ask someone for their insurance information.  You want to make sure that no one else sees this information.

Using a masked text tag will allow your signer to securely enter PII into the form where you request it.  The masked tag will conceal and encrypt the information entered once the signer has filled it out.  This means anyone who receives the document for signing after this signer will only see the title of the tag you entered, i.e.: Health Card.

Because the information is encrypted, the person who needs that information, the document sender, will have to follow very specific steps to retrieve that information securely and confidentially.

To help ensure the integrity of a signature you need a Signer Identity Verification feature. This feature will send a one-time use PIN code to the signer either by email or SMS (text message). They will need to have this code in order to access the document.  Once they have used the PIN code to access the document an action will be logged. Using this code verifies the signer received it on an account that can be traced back to them. The log, or audit trail, will document that the signer’s identity has been verified and how it was verified.

And now that you have verified your signers identity, let’s look a little closer to home.  You need to secure access to the eSignature platform. You don’t want just anyone having access to your clients, partners, and company’s information. To do this your organization can either set up Single Sign On (SSO) or a Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA) Login. These sign in methods help restrict access and lower instances of phishing and make it much more difficult for hackers.

As stated in this great explanation of SSO by TechTarget.com, “Single sign-on (SSO) is a session and user authentication service that permits a user to use one set of login credentials — for example, a name and password — to access multiple applications.” This ensures that unless someone can be verified through your companies main system, they cannot get in. The referenced article does a great job of explaining it.

If your company cannot use SSO then the application you select should, at the very least, offer MFA.  As stated at precisely.com, “Multiple factor authentication verifies a user’s identity by combining two or more of the following independent credentials:

  • Something the user knows (e.g.: password, PIN, passphrase)
  • Something the user possesses (e.g.: email account, smartphone, code-generating device)
  • Something inherent to the user (e.g.: fingerprint, iris scan, voice recognition)”

The Audit Trail is the next security feature we will review.  The Audit Trail is a document that comes with your final copy of the signed document. It can be a part of the final document or arrive as a separate document. It has three main components: the meta data, the Signers, and the History. The audit trail will show you who did what action (signing the document), the timestamp associated with the action, their IP Address, and if required any notes. A note can include the ID Authentication method and include a partial email address or phone number. An example confirming SMS ID Authentication in an Audit Trail can be seen in the image below.

 

ID Authentication Audit Trail log

Finally, you need to have the ability to set up team account roles and permissions. The ability to assign roles and permissions helps you keep your documents secure by restricting who has access to what and when. For a clearer understanding of how roles and permissions may be set up you can review the roles available in Signority. You don’t want everyone in your organization being able to view the documents sent by legal or finance, do you?

Here is a bonus feature. The Retention feature. Depending on the industry you work in your organization may be required to have a retention policy. If you are unsure whether you need a retention policy I strongly encourage you to do some research to find out.  Interdyn has a great article called Data Retention Policy 101 that reviews what a retention policy is, the questions you need to ask, and how to set one up.  I highly recommend you read this if you do not have a policy in place.

A retention feature allows you to apply your retention policy to all the documents that have been signed digitally. And a good one will allow give you ways to automate the whole process. This post gives a good overview of a retention feature and the options available within one. You will see it is easy to set up and helps you ensure compliance.

And those are the basic security features you need in an eSignature platform.

Look out for next weeks edition where I will review the differences between Adobe Signature and Signority eSignatures in the post, “Adobe vs Signority“.

Until then, have a great week and stay safe.

Security Features You Need in an eSignature Platform

Your organization has decided to start using eSignatures and you have been tasked with researching the different options available in the marketplace. The first thing you have to do is research the basic security features you need in an eSignature platform.  Then you can move on to the obvious, Price, Ease of use, Scalability, Reviews, and Features.

Why?  Because you need to ensure all your documents and data is protected. You also have to ensure the signatures can be verified.

In order to ensure the integrity and veracity of the final document and signatures you need to be able to:

  1. Secure the document and signatures
  2. Verify the signer’s identities
  3. Protect any confidential information entered
  4. Track the document and signatories
  5. Restrict access

Here are the basic security features you need in an eSignature platform:

  1. Digital Signatures
  2. Masked Text
  3. Signer Identity Verification
  4. Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA) and Single Sign On (SSO)
  5. Audit Trail
  6. Team Account Roles & Permissions

The first security feature you need is a Digital Signature.  Wait… what?  I thought eSignatures are Digital Signatures.  Aren’t they the same thing?

No, that is a common mistake many people make. And it is one that will determine the security of the document and signatures. Here are the definitions as quoted from the post eSignatures vs Digital Signatures

“An electronic signature is information in electronic form (can be sound, symbol, process, etc.) that is associated or attached to a document. This means that so long as we can demonstrate that the signature is associated with a person and that there was intent to sign, everything is legally binding and accepted (all of this can be seen in Signority’s audit trail).

 

A digital signature is actually a form of electronic signature that uses an encryption algorithm that helps validate who the signer is. It also ensures that the document cannot be tampered with, as the signature becomes invalid if the document is changed after signing. This helps prevent repudiation by the signer, making it almost impossible to deny having signed the signature. Essentially, these issues are some of the biggest challenges to electronic signatures, and digital signatures are able to help overcome these issues.”

For a much more comprehensive explanation from a cybersecurity perspective read this post about digital signatures on TechTarget.com.

Next is the Masked Tag.  This tag allows you to protect your signatory’s personally identifiable information (PII) and other confidential information. If you work in the healthcare field for example, you may ask someone for their insurance information.  You want to make sure that no one else sees this information.

Using a masked text tag will allow your signer to securely enter PII into the form where you request it.  The masked tag will conceal and encrypt the information entered once the signer has filled it out.  This means anyone who receives the document for signing after this signer will only see the title of the tag you entered, i.e.: Health Card.

Because the information is encrypted, the person who needs that information, the document sender, will have to follow very specific steps to retrieve that information securely and confidentially.

To help ensure the integrity of a signature you need a Signer Identity Verification feature. This feature will send a one-time use PIN code to the signer either by email or SMS (text message). They will need to have this code in order to access the document.  Once they have used the PIN code to access the document an action will be logged. Using this code verifies the signer received it on an account that can be traced back to them. The log, or audit trail, will document that the signer’s identity has been verified and how it was verified.

And now that you have verified your signers identity, let’s look a little closer to home.  You need to secure access to the eSignature platform. You don’t want just anyone having access to your clients, partners, and company’s information. To do this your organization can either set up Single Sign On (SSO) or a Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA) Login. These sign in methods help restrict access and lower instances of phishing and make it much more difficult for hackers.

As stated in this great explanation of SSO by TechTarget.com, “Single sign-on (SSO) is a session and user authentication service that permits a user to use one set of login credentials — for example, a name and password — to access multiple applications.” This ensures that unless someone can be verified through your companies main system, they cannot get in. The referenced article does a great job of explaining it.

If your company cannot use SSO then the application you select should, at the very least, offer MFA.  As stated at precisely.com, “Multiple factor authentication verifies a user’s identity by combining two or more of the following independent credentials:

  • Something the user knows (e.g.: password, PIN, passphrase)
  • Something the user possesses (e.g.: email account, smartphone, code-generating device)
  • Something inherent to the user (e.g.: fingerprint, iris scan, voice recognition)”

The Audit Trail is the next security feature we will review.  The Audit Trail is a document that comes with your final copy of the signed document. It can be a part of the final document or arrive as a separate document. It has three main components: the meta data, the Signers, and the History. The audit trail will show you who did what action (signing the document), the timestamp associated with the action, their IP Address, and if required any notes. A note can include the ID Authentication method and include a partial email address or phone number. An example confirming SMS ID Authentication in an Audit Trail can be seen in the image below.

 

ID Authentication Audit Trail log

Finally, you need to have the ability to set up team account roles and permissions. The ability to assign roles and permissions helps you keep your documents secure by restricting who has access to what and when. For a clearer understanding of how roles and permissions may be set up you can review the roles available in Signority. You don’t want everyone in your organization being able to view the documents sent by legal or finance, do you?

Here is a bonus feature. The Retention feature. Depending on the industry you work in your organization may be required to have a retention policy. If you are unsure whether you need a retention policy I strongly encourage you to do some research to find out.  Interdyn has a great article called Data Retention Policy 101 that reviews what a retention policy is, the questions you need to ask, and how to set one up.  I highly recommend you read this if you do not have a policy in place.

A retention feature allows you to apply your retention policy to all the documents that have been signed digitally. And a good one will allow give you ways to automate the whole process. This post gives a good overview of a retention feature and the options available within one. You will see it is easy to set up and helps you ensure compliance.

And those are the basic security features you need in an eSignature platform.

Look out for next weeks edition where I will review the differences between Adobe Signature and Signority eSignatures in the post, “Adobe vs Signority“.

Until then, have a great week and stay safe.

How eSignatures Help Healthcare Staffing

How ESignatures Help Healthcare Staffing Agencies

How eSignatures Help Healthcare Staffing

Today I’m going to tell you how eSignatures help healthcare staffing  and the top 5 features needed to reap the rewards.

If you work in healthcare staffing you know that this is one of the most paper intensive areas to work. And to keep that paperwork moving takes a lot of time and effort.

See where eSignatures will have the biggest impact.

Let’s use a typical use case; you’ve hired someone and now you have to send out the hiring package for everyone’s signatures. What are some of the issues you typically run into?

You constantly have to remind someone to sign the documents. The signatures are in the wrong place and there is missing information. Required documents or IDs aren’t attached. Or someone doesn’t receive a final copy so they can do their job.

With an eSignature platform you can automate the process and significantly reduce the issues mentioned above.

Here are the top 5 features that will help you the most.
  1. Automated workflow. This feature allows you to say who to send the document package to and in what order. Each signer receives an email letting them know they have a document to sign. This can happen all at once or in a specific order you determine.
  2. Templates. Templates allow you to save a copy of the form with predetermined signing and information.  A good eSignature platform will offer you a few template formats. Here are some examples of template formats: regular templates, template links, bulk sign templates.
  3. Multi-document package. This means that your document package should be able to consist of multiple separate documents if needed. If there is one thing that will not save you time, it is having to combine all of your documents into one pdf before getting them ready for signing.
  4. Automated email reminders. Have email reminders automatically sent out on a schedule you determine if a signer is taking too long.
  5. Viewer role. This allows you to have the final document package sent to someone who may not be part of the required signings. I.e.: you may need to send a copy to finance to set up their payroll.

Using these five features can save you and your staff time and increase productivity.  But you want to know how much time eSignatures will save you and how much productivity will go up.

Here are just three of the benefits organizations have reported on average from implementing eSignatures, as published by Financesonline.com.

You read that right, companies save on average $20 per document.  How many documents do you process through your staffing department or agency? I think that is worth a second look, don’t you?

If you would like to learn more about these features and others, Signority’s tutorial page is a great resource. And to see how easy it is to have an eSignature Platform work for you I encourage you to take advantage of Signority’s free no obligation two week trial.

If you are considering an eSignature service, let me know what kind of features you’d like to know more about in the comments section below. It just might be my next blog.

Speaking of my next blog, keep an eye out for Basic Security Features You Need in an eSignature Platform, coming next week.

How eSignatures Help Healthcare Staffing

Today I’m going to tell you how eSignatures help healthcare staffing  and the top 5 features needed to reap the rewards.

If you work in healthcare staffing you know that this is one of the most paper intensive areas to work. And to keep that paperwork moving takes a lot of time and effort.

See where eSignatures will have the biggest impact.

Let’s use a typical use case; you’ve hired someone and now you have to send out the hiring package for everyone’s signatures. What are some of the issues you typically run into?

You constantly have to remind someone to sign the documents. The signatures are in the wrong place and there is missing information. Required documents or IDs aren’t attached. Or someone doesn’t receive a final copy so they can do their job.

With an eSignature platform you can automate the process and significantly reduce the issues mentioned above.

Here are the top 5 features that will help you the most.
  1. Automated workflow. This feature allows you to say who to send the document package to and in what order. Each signer receives an email letting them know they have a document to sign. This can happen all at once or in a specific order you determine.
  2. Templates. Templates allow you to save a copy of the form with predetermined signing and information.  A good eSignature platform will offer you a few template formats. Here are some examples of template formats: regular templates, template links, bulk sign templates.
  3. Multi-document package. This means that your document package should be able to consist of multiple separate documents if needed. If there is one thing that will not save you time, it is having to combine all of your documents into one pdf before getting them ready for signing.
  4. Automated email reminders. Have email reminders automatically sent out on a schedule you determine if a signer is taking too long.
  5. Viewer role. This allows you to have the final document package sent to someone who may not be part of the required signings. I.e.: you may need to send a copy to finance to set up their payroll.

Using these five features can save you and your staff time and increase productivity.  But you want to know how much time eSignatures will save you and how much productivity will go up.

Here are just three of the benefits organizations have reported on average from implementing eSignatures, as published by Financesonline.com.

You read that right, companies save on average $20 per document.  How many documents do you process through your staffing department or agency? I think that is worth a second look, don’t you?

If you would like to learn more about these features and others, Signority’s tutorial page is a great resource. And to see how easy it is to have an eSignature Platform work for you I encourage you to take advantage of Signority’s free no obligation two week trial.

If you are considering an eSignature service, let me know what kind of features you’d like to know more about in the comments section below. It just might be my next blog.

Speaking of my next blog, keep an eye out for Basic Security Features You Need in an eSignature Platform, coming next week.