The venerable fax machine began service to corporate America in the late 1970s and quickly became the preferred method of sharing documents among different locations. However, many legal documents needed actual signatures in ink to be considered valid in a court of law. Faxed documents were generally followed up with an overnight mailing of the original document. Now DocuSign is changing how documents are signed and stored.
Fax Machines Slowly Die Off
Anyone who belongs to a network such as Music Express or Empire CLS remembers the day when farmed-in orders arrived by fax. You would review the order, quickly sign an acceptance signature line, and fax it back. From the 1980s to as recently as five years ago, fax machines were a normal part of our daily business. Confirmations of new reservations would be faxed to clients to acknowledge their orders and clients also were expected to sign on their end and fax the document back. The document would then be placed in a filing cabinet and held there “just in case,” and likely never touched again unless an issue developed.
PDF Documents Evolve
When the industry first began using automated reservation software in the 1990s, the ability to fax confirmations became a standard feature of programs where the document could be sent via computer instead of a fax machine. Computers used modems to accomplish the same transmission. As technology improved, programs replaced the fax feature with PDF (Portable Document Format) documents that could be emailed instead. Soon, fax machines became idle and rarely used as PDF documents were printed out, signed and scanned into a new PDF document and sent back with a required signature. DocuSign eliminates the need to print a document for signing and makes it much more reliable in many ways.
App For That
DocuSign services are offered by subscription or as an app. In fact, the Apple Store ranked DocuSign as the second most downloaded productivity app in 2011. DocuSign signatures and documents are encrypted to bank level security.
DocuSign emails a recipient an electronic document requesting review of a document. Each party agrees to complete business electronically, review the document, and apply a signature. Signatures may be added from a one-time stored copy of a signature or one generated through the DocuSign software recognized as a legal signature in 188 countries. It can be used on a computer or a mobile device running Apple IOS, Google Android or Windows Phone operating systems, meaning a document can be signed from anywhere.
A saved signature in DocuSign can be applied to PDFs, word processing documents and images. To complete a document, participants apply their signatures and send finished documents to cloud storage for later review.
Who Uses It?
Big companies, government agencies, mortgage companies, attorneys and familiar names such as PayPal and Google Drive are using it. Ninety percent of all Fortune 500 companies are users, according to a July 2012 Business Insider report. One of the biggest users since 2013 is the Internal Revenue Service who began allowing taxpayers to request documents from the IRS using template forms for common requests such as Form 4506-T, a Request for Transcript of Tax Returns.
Recognized in Court?
With a presence in 188 countries, DocuSign meets statutes and regulations worldwide with compliance and enforceability. Authentication of the person signing the document is conclusively established through a variety of methods, and an audit trail shows who viewed and signed the document on any specific date. E-signatures are recognized by the U.S. Food & Drug Administration, Federal Trade Commission and Internal Revenue Service as binding and legal signatures. DocuSign is so confident in its legality it claims on its website that it will go to court with you if ever needed. An electronic signature indicates intent to agree to or approve the contents of a document. It refers to a specific technology that enables users to ensure the authenticity of the signer and to trust that a signature is valid through the use of validation technology.
Proving Who Signed
DocuSign verifies who receives and provides an e-signature using many different methods. The easiest one is having a DocuSign account. You can open one by signing or initiating your first document through DocuSign.
Further identification is established through methods such as an access code, sending a code as an SMS message to your cell phone, logging in through social media, and IP addresses of devices used. Using this technology, DocuSign can establish a complete chain of custody record of when the document was sent to a recipient, opened, signed, sent back to you, and opened and reviewed. This information and the document itself are stored on a cloud accessible by either party anywhere, anytime.
Forms And Templates
From reservation confirmations to farm-out orders, the limousine industry has a ton of documents used in daily business. DocuSign gives you the ability to upload your forms on a one-time basis so users within your office merely fill in the blanks and email the documents for an immediate signature. Remember, once a recipient has received a single document from you and filed an electronic signature with DocuSign, the process is smooth in subsequent transactions. A document can be sent, signed and returned within a minute. You can send quotes with an acceptance signature panel. You can drop and drag lines for initials or signature date insertions and even multiple signatures. DocuSign also offers a myriad of pre-designs ranging from purchase orders to sales contracts, employment offers and non-disclosure agreements you can send to chauffeurs and other employees for signature. You can send your ride contract to a client complete with your logo and have them sign it before the ride ever begins.
Saving Paper And Space
One of the best advantages to using DocuSign is it avoids the need to print a legal document. While this may take some getting used to, there are huge cost savings in paper, printer ink and toner, file folders, filing cabinets, bankers boxes and even the labor involved in document processing. It promotes your company as one committed to a “paperless company” and being sensitive to the environment. Printing is becoming obsolete as documents stored on your own server or the DocuSign cloud are available and ready anytime.
For starters, you can get a month free just for trying it out. If you decide you like it, pricing plans start for as little as $20 a month for business use and go up to $125 a month for more bells and whistles. The $20 a month plan is sufficient (paid annually) for most people as it allows unlimited documents and branding with your logo. The “power user plan” is more for real estate agents, title companies and attorneys, and allow users to sign documents from your own website. You can get started now at DocuSign.net.
A 3-Step Process
Using DocuSign takes three easy steps.
1. First, upload your document you need signed by using a PDF document, a Word document or similar.
2. Second, enter the email addresses of your recipients and their names on signature lines.
3. Third, use the drag and drop signature lines, initial lines and date lines that provide easy to understand directions such as, “SIGN HERE” or “INITIAL HERE.”
Once your document is ready, DocuSign will email it to your recipient(s) and you will be notified once it is signed.