What is an Audit Trail?

An audit trail can be the deciding factor between a valid and invalid electronic signature document.

You may be familiar with the difference between electronic signatures and digital signatures, in case you’re not, 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 as long one can demonstrate that the signature is associated with a person and that there was intent to sign, everything is legally binding and accepted.

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.  You can read about the differences between electronic signatures vs. digital signatures here.

Now that we have covered the basics, let’s get to what an audit trail is and why it plays an integral part in the process of validating of a document.

Technopedia, the IT education site defines an audit trail, in the context of information technology, “as a chain of evidence in the form of hard or electronic business transactions or communications resulting from business processes, functions or programming executions.”
In other words, an audit trail is a detailed list of critical data points, pertaining to the transaction, that are recorded and reported. These data points help verify the validity of the transaction.

Below is a list of important components we display in Signority’s audit trail:

  • Unique Document Title
  • Secured seal (Digital Signatures)
  • Email Address Of Signers And Viewers
  • The IP address of the involved parties
  • Documents viewed by each signer
  • Signers consent to terms of service
  • User authentication: SMS and Email
  • Signature creation (by each signer)
  • Party agreement to / acknowledgement of document
  • Document downloads after signing
  • Signer’s Status
  • GUID (or ‘Globally Unique Identifier’)

For the sake of avoiding any form of confusion, let’s go over what these components mean and what value they add to the entire electronic signature validation process.

Unique Document Title

Unique Document Title

A unique document title is the unique file name of the document that was originally created by the document creator. The unique document name can be found in the first page of Signority’s audit trail.

Secured Seal (Digital Signature)

The “Secured with Digital Encryption” image on the audit trail indicates that the document has been digitally signed by Signority to ensure document integrity. This means that if the signed document was changed, edit, or tampered with in any way, the digital signature on the document would break and be considered invalid.

Email Addresses of Signers and Viewers

The audit trail records and displays the email addresses of all parties involved, which can be either signer or viewer.-

  • Signer: Signers are users who are required to sign a particular document. A signer could be a primary signer or a witness.        
  • Viewer: A viewer is a user with view-only capabilities.

The IP Address of involved parties

According to IP Location, an IP address or Internet Protocol is “A unique address that computing devices such as personal computers, tablets, and smartphones use to identify itself and communicate with other devices in the IP network.”

In terms of Signority’s audit trail, the IP address associated with a particular signer or viewer, at the time of viewing the document is recorded and reported — adding an extra layer of validity to electronic signature documents.

Documents viewed by each Signer

The Documents viewed by the signer or viewer is displayed in the name section in the Audit trail. The audit trail also displays the exact time the document was viewed.

GUID (Globally Unique Identifier)

GUID’s of Globally Unique Identifiers, are defined by BetterExplained as “Large, enormous numbers that are nearly guaranteed to be unique.”

They usually look like this: fa06cc7a-8a32-44c2-9e4d-2192818ab076

At Signority, every document created is assigned a Globally Unique Identifier and can be viewed in the audit trail.

Signers’ Consent to Terms of Service

Signers consent to terms of service refers to the signer or viewer agreeing to abide to the Signority terms of service in order to use services provided by Signority.

User Authentication

Verifying the identity of a user before granting access to secured information is the main intention of the User Authentication feature.
With Signority there are two additional methods that can used to verify signers and viewers — i.e. SMS and email — when email and /or SMS password authentication is turned on by the user, Signority sends a randomly generated unique code to the recipient. The code is required to access the document.

The type of user authentication used is displayed in the “Authentication” section of the Signority’s Audit Trail.

Signature Creation (by each signer)

The Signature Creation section is a critical component of the audit trail, it is the original signature of the required parties.
At Signority and most other eSignature providers, a party’s signature can be created by:

  1. Using a touch pad/screen or mouse
  2. Typing their signature using a keyboard
  3. Uploading a scanned copy of their signature

Document downloads after signing

Once the document is finalized by all of the signers, all parties involved are notified via email with an attached copy of the finalized document for safe keeping. In addition, the audit trail continues to track document downloads after signing and is updated live.

Signer’s Status

The signer’s status reflects the final action taken by all required signers, the status can be: “Rejected”, “Waiting to Open”, “In Progress”, “Finalized and “Viewed” — depending on the action taken by the signer.

Prefillable tags

Prefillable tags are tags that the sender can fill in before sending out a document for signing. Note that signers cannot edit the information entered by the sender.

Prefillable Text

Prefillable text tags are tags that a sender can fill out with text before sending out a document for signing.

Prefillable Number

Prefillable number tags are tags that a sender can fill out with any numerical value before sending out a document for signing.

Cancelling documents

If you have a document out for signing that is In Progress that you would like to cancel, Signority’s cancel feature lets you do that. To access the feature, login to your Signority account. Then navigate to Documents and locate the document you would like to cancel. Select the document by clicking on the checkbox next to its name. Then at the top of the page, locate the Cancel Signing button. After clicking on this button, a dialog will popup on your screen. Here, you can choose the type of cancellation that you would like to perform. There are three choices:

  1. Cancel & Send email
  2. Cancel & No email
  3. Resend Signing Request

Cancel & Send email

This will cancel the document’s signing workflow. To use this option, you must input a cancellation reason. All recipients will receive an email notification that the document signing has been cancelled containing the cancellation reason. The document status will be changed to “Cancelled”, and recipient editing access to the document will be removed. The cancellation reason will be included in the audit trail of the cancelled document.

Cancel & No email

This will also cancel the document’s signing workflow, but will not notify the recipients of the cancellation. Recipient access of the document will still be removed, and the document’s status will be changed to “Cancelled”.

Resend Signing Request

This will cancel the current document signing workflow, removing recipient access to it. However, it will immediately create a copy of the document containing all the tags and resend the signing request from the beginning of the workflow.

If you have any questions, you can email us at support@signority.com, or call our toll-free at 1-833-222-1088.

Document Retention

Signority’s document retention feature lets you apply your organization’s data retention policies to all your eSign documents. On Enterprise plans, if you are an admin, you can edit your team’s document retention policy from under Branding. As an individual user, if your admin has allowed users to create their own retention policies, then under My Account -> Profile Settings -> Document Retention. There are three types of document retention policies you can define.

  1. Retain only
  2. Retain and purge
  3. Purge only

Retention period

This is the number of days for which a finalized document should be retained, or the number of days before a finalized document should be purged. In the screenshot above, the retention period 365 days, meaning that all finalized documents will be retained or purged 365 days after the day the document is finalized.

Retain only

This option disables documents from being deleted from Signority for the number of days defined under Retention period. This retention policy ensures that Signority keeps all signed documents in your Signority accounts for a period of time.

Retain and purge

This option keeps users from deleting finalized documents from Signority for the number of days defined under Retention period. In our example, that period of time is 365 days. So 365 days after a document is finalized, Signority will move the finalized document to the Purge queue. 14 days after a document enters the Purge queue, Signority permanently deletes the document. During this 14 day period, you can download the document and/or save a copy if needed.

Purge only

Under this option, a finalized document is deleted after the number of days defined under Retention period. For example, if the retention period defined is 365 days, then 365 days after a document is finalized, the document will be moved to the Purge queue. 14 days after the document enters the Purge queue, Signority permanently deletes the document. Note that before the document enters the Purge queue, the user can still delete the document if needed.

Purge Queue

The Purge queue contains a list of finalized documents that are to be purged by the system. Finalized documents get moved to the Purge folder under the Retain and purge and Purge only retention policy, if they have been in the Completed status for longer than the defined retention period. Once moved to the Purge folder, Signority will automatically permanently delete the document after 14 days.

Saving documents to the cloud

If you want a copy of all signed documents saved to your own cloud storage platform, the “Save finalized documents to the cloud before purging” option lets you do that. This ensures that Signority uploads a copy of all signed documents to a cloud storage platform of your choice. Before turning on this option, you must first set up integration with a storage solution. You can do this by going to My Account -> Integration.

Lock document retention settings

Leaving the “Enable user to set document retention” checkbox unchecked removes access to document retention settings for individual users. If this option is on, then users can go to My Account -> Profile Settings -> Document Retention to set up a custom retention policy.

Email Notifications

Seven days and three days before Signority deletes a document permanently, you will receive an email notifying you that Signority will purge the document. Before Signority purges a document, you have the option of downloading the document, or disabling the retention policy if needed.

Important notes

Increasing the number of days in the retention policy

If you increase the number of days in the retention policy, any documents that are in the Purge queue will have their deletion date extended. If the increase is greater than the number of days that a document has been in the Purge queue, then Signority will remove the document from the Purge queue, and update its expiry date. For example, suppose. today is November 1, 2021. There is currently a document that has been in the Purge queue for four days, meaning that in 10 days, on November 10, 2021, the document will be deleted permanently. If you increase the retention period by 16 days, the document will be removed from the Purge queue. It will be moved back to the Purge queue in 12 days on November 12, 2021. Signority will delete the document permanently 14 days after this, on November 26, 2021.

Decreasing the number of days in the retention policy

If a user shortens the retention period by X number of days, then any signed documents not yet in the Purge queue will have their expiry date shortened by the same X number of days. If the updated expiry date for a finalized document has already passed, the document will be placed in the Purge queue, where Signority will permanently delete them after 14 days. However, for documents that are already in the Purge queue, shortening the retention period does not change how much longer a document will stay in the Purge queue before being permanently deleted.

Turning off the retention policy

If you turn off the retention policy for your account or team, then all documents in the Purge queue will be removed from the Purge queue, and all signed documents will be displayed and accessible as usual. All documents will continue to remain in your Signority account until explicitly deleted.

If you have any questions, you can email us at support@signority.com, or call our toll-free at 1-833-222-1088.

Setting up SFTP for custom document storage

With a Signority Team plan, you can set up your custom SFTP to automatically download signed documents to your SFTP server. Note that only super admins and billing admins are able to set up SFTP settings.

To start, sign into your Signority account, and go to “My Account”, then “Profile Settings”. Then click to the “Integration” tab, and click on “Activate” next to the SFTP line.

In the window that pops up, enter in the SFTP information and click “OK”.

If all the information you entered was correct, you should see a PDF file titled “Welcome_to_SFTP” appear in the destination folder on the SFTP server. From now on, all the signed documents from your team will be saved to this destination folder automatically.

To disable the SFTP integration, simply click on “deactivate” next to the “SFTP” line in the Integration settings.

If you have any questions, feel free to reach out to support@signority.com.

Signority Formulas

Formulas allow you to automatically populate a tag with a value based on the values of other tags in a Signority Package. Formulas are limited to Prefillable tags, which are tags that can be filled out by the Signority Package sender prior to sending out the document for signing, as well as Text tags.

To set up a formula in a Signority Package, first create a new Document or Regular Template. Then upload the files that will be part of the Document or Regular Template. Once the files have been uploaded, add the necessary tags and Prefillable tags for the document.

Now locate the Prefillable tag or Text tag that you would like to create a formula for. Select the tag, and click on the gear icon. In the window that pops up, locate the line called “Saved Conditions” and click on the ellipsis button. A new popup window will appear. This is where you will build your formula.

Conditional Formula

To build a conditional formula, select the “Conditional” option from the list of formulas.

Then select the tag that will be used for the condition. After that select a comparison operator and a value to compare the tag’s value to. Finally, enter in the text value that the tag should take on if the condition is met. At the end, you will have something that looks like the following.

This conditional formula says: if the tag named “Cost 1” is greater than 1000, then set the tag to contain the text “CEO Approval”.

Once you’ve created the condition, make sure to click the “+Add” button to save the condition. Then when you’ve finished adding all the necessary conditions, hit “Save”.

Copy Formula

The Copy formula allows a tag to take on the value of another tag. To set it up, simply choose the “Copy” option from the list of formulas. Then choose the name of the tag you wish to copy. When you’re done, hit “Save“.

Sum Formula

The Sum formula allows a tag to take the value of the sum of the values of multiple tags. To create a sum formula, choose the “Sum” option from the list of formulas. Then choose the tags to be included in the sum. Use Shift + Click to select a range, and Ctrl + Click (⌘Cmd + Click on Mac) to select a single tag in addition to other already selected tags. Finally, hit “Save” to save your sum formula.

This feature is actively being enhanced. Stay tuned for more formulas in the future!