5 questions to ask yourself before implementing an e-signature solution
If you are thinking to implement an e-signature solution at organisational level, you must have plenty of questions. Below, we have summed up five of the most common ones to guide and offer you some “food for thought”.
1. What are your business sector requirements and best practices?
This is a rather general question, but it implies you have an in-depth look at your business market, even at what your competitors do. It encourages you to scrutinise the current best practices and identify future trends so that your electronic signature solution can match both today’s and tomorrow’s business requirements.
2. What type of documents should be signed electronically?
Besides keeping an eye on market trends and practices, it is equally important to take a look inside your own organisation. Together with your Risk, Compliance and Legal departments start by carrying out an internal audit of your procedures and documents aiming to analyse which ones could and should be digitised and to what extent. This is also a good opportunity to assess which levels of e-signatures are suited for which type of documents and to identify those key persons, who will sign these documents on behalf of your company. You should also take into account that you may need to equip these selected signers with a digital identity and with the appropriate information needed to sign electronically.
3. Does the electronic signature solution allow you to sign all the types of documents you need in full compliance with the current legislation?
During your internal audit, you may have discovered that you need different types and levels of electronic signature, so you should also inquire if your chosen provider is able and authorised to supply all these services. Ideally, you find a trusted service provider that can “do-it-all”. You would thus avoid working with multiple providers and implement different systems in the long term. As a reminder, only the eIDAS qualified trust services providers are authorised to provide qualified trust services such as: the qualified electronic signature, the qualified electronic seal, the qualified timestamping. The EU Trusted List is the best source to check whether your chosen e-signature provider is allowed to provide the qualified level.
4. Is the e-signature solution compatible with other applications and systems (build-in or not)?
You can now finally have to look at the e-signature solutions and test its functionalities and features. You should also ask your IT teams to support you and ask more technical questions to the provider. One of the most important features of an e-signature solution is the capacity to integrate easily and leverage your organisation’s current applications (developed in-house or provided by other service providers) such as: Microsoft Azure, Sharepoint etc. Interoperability is key to secure exchanges and ensure your workflows will run smoothly.
5. Does the solution provide e-signature validation or long-term preservation services?
When implementing an electronic solution, businesses should focus also on the services needed to strengthen and complete an electronic signature. We refer here not only to timestamping and electronic seal, but also to e-signature validation and long-term preservation. The validation service will enable you to check the e-signature validity regardless its issuers. The long-term preservation service will help you increase the validity period of an e-signature. These services are relatively new and not well understood, so few trust service providers are able to provide them.
Integrating a new digital solution is a team work where multiple internal teams, bringing different expertise, discuss and exchange in order to ensure a successful outcome. It also requires a close, truthful partnership with the trust service provider which can and should be able to advise you and present solutions that cover all aspects and possible scenarios around electronic signing.
LuxTrust is a Qualified Trust Service Provider on the EU Trusted List authorised to provide the entire suite of eIDAS qualified services. They are available via our eIDAS trust service hub COSI, a modular platform that lets you implement the best e-signature solutions suited to your business needs. Should you wish to discuss with our experts, contact us here.