In this article, we review the evolution of electronic signatures and discuss the advantages of implementing an integrated e-signature tool as part of your NetSuite set-up.
There is a lot of shared ground between the topic of electronic signatures and our previous article regarding document management for NetSuite, 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:
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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.
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).
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.
As standard, NetSuite does not offer electronic signature functionality.
This gives NetSuite users two options to manage electronic signatures: either outside of NetSuite which, as we’ve discussed creates a break in the process which can lead to a lack of visibility and frustration for staff and customers alike. Or by using an integrated SuiteApp, such as Workiro, which can manage the process whilst ensuring complete visibility within the corresponding NetSuite records.
Workiro is a work management tool built for NetSuite that helps your employees work more effectively. Workiro provides a cloud-based repository that integrates with NetSuite to allow users to manage documents, contracts, emails and more, directly within NetSuite. One of the key features of the Workiro app is electronic signatures.
The Workiro app gives NetSuite users the ability to create one-click and digital wet signature requests.
These documents can be easily created from NetSuite templates (order confirmations etc.), or alternatively and perhaps more excitingly, from Microsoft Word Documents which can be easily linked to NetSuite transactions via a simple interface from within the document.
At the point of applying the signature request, all you have to do is also select the NetSuite records you want to associate with the document - Workiro does the rest and sends a secure link to the recipients to complete.
As soon as the link is sent to your customer or vendor, the document’s journey is fully visible within the Workiro tab in NetSuite, with read receipts, automatic reminders, and the ability to nudge signers as standard.
Unlike other e-Signature tools, there is no limit or additional cost incurred on the number of signatures that you can request and store in Workiro. So, regardless of whether your team send out quotes every day or once a month, Workiro provides a perfect solution at a fixed price to manage electronic signatures in NetSuite.
On top of that, Workiro can also give secure access to view and process signatures for employees within your organisation, or customers, vendors, and partners that may not have a NetSuite license. This means that they can be kept in the loop and even participate, via a secure chat thread, in the progress of getting important documents signed, both accelerating the process and improving visibility whilst ensuring nothing slips through the net.
Once the document is signed, users can tag and store the document within the Workiro tab in NetSuite meaning it is accessible to everyone. To hear more about storing documents, you can read our previous blog on Document Management in NetSuite here.
In short, electronic signatures are just one part of the document journey. Whilst using any e-signature solution will improve efficiency, managing it outside of NetSuite can create frustration for the people in your business.
Workiro solves the key challenges of electronic signatures for NetSuite by giving your team the ability to easily create one-off or templated signature requests directly from NetSuite, or from Word with an in-built option to attach the document to NetSuite records with a single click.
Wherever your team are working, they can quickly provide approved, branded documents to your signatories and track the progress of getting the document signed every step of the way. Workiro then stores these documents securely, meaning all the right people can access them when needed.
As well as electronic signatures, our solution provides document management, Outlook integration, a native chat feature, and approvals as standard. To find out more, book a full demo of Workiro and we will be in touch.