In this article, we review the evolution of electronic signatures and discuss the advantages of implementing an integrated e-signature NetSuite tool as part of your set-up.
There is a lot of shared ground between the topic of electronic signatures and our previous article regarding NetSuite document management, namely efficiency and accessibility. However, signatures introduce one further level of complexity by requiring an action on the document (often from someone outside of your organisation) as opposed to simply uploading or viewing it.
With this in mind, we look at:
- What Are Electronic Signatures?
- What Advantages do Electronic Signatures Offer NetSuite Users?
- What Types of Documents Should You Be Managing in NetSuite?
- What Are the Options Available for Electronic Signatures in NetSuite?
(If you like what you read and want to take a deeper dive, follow the link to download our white paper.)
What Are Electronic Signatures?
Electronic signatures (e-Signatures) enable people to securely and legally sign documents electronically, as opposed to using a traditional wet signature.
Using a secure unique link , users can access, view and sign documents with a legally binding digital signature, all within a few clicks from their email inbox or dedicated app.
This introduces a number of efficiencies in both the creation and completion of the document, and (in our opinion) most importantly, it ensures all stakeholders are instantly notified when the document is completed whilst also providing a full digital audit trail of who has accessed, interacted with, and amended or completed the document.
So, things get signed quicker, there is less risk for all parties, and in the event of any issue – you can quickly and easily see everything which led to the document being signed.
What Advantages do Electronic Signatures Offer NetSuite Users?
In our experience, businesses normally invest in NetSuite to improve efficiency and visibility of critical processes throughout their organisation by managing as many functions as possible in one unified solution.
So, the concept of e-signatures aligns perfectly with the core motivations to implement NetSuite.
Documents which require signatures (such as contracts, confirmations, and invoices) can be created in NetSuite based on information that has already been added to the system. This makes creating a document in NetSuite simple for users, ensures consistency throughout your business, and gives a clear roadmap of where it has come from and the actions that have taken place with that prospect, customer, vendor, or employee prior to the document being created.
However, at the final stage, without an integrated e-signature tool for NetSuite, the document is removed from NetSuite and sent for signature via another tool or process.
This means that, despite everything else being not only visible, but actually created and managed in NetSuite, there is no visibility of the process at the most important step – getting the document signed – within NetSuite.
At best, users will be required to export a PDF to a third-party tool and re-upload the completed document once signed. If there has been any delay, query, or discussion from the signatory during the process – it’s likely not visible in NetSuite.
So, when considering an e-signature tool for NetSuite, our advice would be to investigate one which completely integrates to NetSuite (like ours, which we cover in more detail in the final section after we look at the types of documents you can manage and sign in NetSuite).
What Documents can you e-Sign in NetSuite?
The short answer is essentially any document.
In terms of core functionality, an e-signature tool simply applies an additional layer to a pre-defined document template which allows administrators to define where actions and signatures are required on the document. So, as long as you can produce the document, it can be submitted for e-signature.
The most common areas we see businesses utilising e-signatures in NetSuite are:
This is probably the most obvious and most straightforward application of e-signature technology. It is generally the point of a sales cycle to obtain a signed order. Once a sale is agreed, a sales order confirmation can be produced for signing by the prospect/customer, along with any necessary contracts and related paperwork.
Most businesses using NetSuite do so as a financial system first. The application of electronic signatures for finance in NetSuite has two perspectives.
Firstly, similarly to the above, there is the actual sending and completion of documents.
In our experience this is probably minimal from the finance side, as they are normally the ones within NetSuite who will enact the next step once a document is signed (e.g., invoicing).
That being said, it is not unusual for internal authorisations on transactions - such as purchase orders and vendor bills - to require a signature.
Secondly, as covered in our NetSuite Document Management article, regardless of what documents pass through your business, they probably have some relevance or impact on the finance team.
So, when discussing the application of e-signatures in NetSuite, it is worth looking beyond the task of signing to understand the efficiencies (both internal and external) gained by having complete visibility of a document’s life history against the corresponding transaction.
One of the most document - and signature-heavy functions of a business. From the aforementioned sales order confirmation and contracts, through to full statements of work, right down to daily timesheets, almost everything in a project is required to be documented and verified.
Given a large proportion of NetSuite’s global customer base sits within professional services, technology and SaaS, there is a large requirement for documents to be easily accessible from within projects.
Similar to projects, HR is a document-heavy business function. From employee contracts to training, appraisals, and development plans there is an ever-increasing number of documents required to be produced, shared, signed, and securely stored for each employee.
Whether you use NetSuite to proactively manage your HR, or you’re just utilising employee records as a centralised repository, if you have a document that needs a signature, and to be stored securely, an integrated e-signature tool could both reduce the time taken to obtain a signature whilst also removing the risk of documents accidentally being exposed to external threats.
Click to read our case study of Soctim’s NetSuite HR e-signature project and learn how they utilised signature templates to guarantee consistency in processing whilst significantly streamlining their onboarding process for new employees.