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In business, signed agreements are essential. They act as the backbone of any professional relationship. They protect your interests, set clear terms, and prevent misunderstandings. Without them, you might face disputes and confusion that can cost you time and money.

Printing, signing, scanning, and sending documents back and forth can take days. It's time-consuming and not very efficient. This is where electronic signatures (eSignatures) come into play. They are becoming incredibly popular because they offer a faster, more secure, and convenient way to sign documents. You can sign from anywhere, anytime, which is a game-changer for busy professionals like you.

What is an eSignature or digital signature?

An electronic signature, or eSignature, is a digital way to sign documents. It's just like a handwritten signature but done on a computer or mobile device. With eSignatures, you can sign documents electronically, making the process faster and more convenient.

You don't have to print the document, sign it by hand, scan it, and then email it back. Instead, you can open the document on your device, add your eSignature, and send it off in minutes. It’s as simple as clicking a few buttons.

eSignatures can include:

  • A simple typed name
  • An image of your handwritten signature
  • A unique identifier, like a PIN or code

These options make it easy to sign documents quickly and securely. Plus, eSignatures are legally binding, just like traditional signatures.

Also read: A Quick Introduction to eSignatures

Difference between eSignatures and digital signatures

While eSignatures and digital signatures might sound similar, they are not the same. Here’s how they differ:

  • eSignatures: These show agreement to the terms of a document. They can be as simple as typing your name or inserting a scanned image of your signature. eSignatures are all about convenience and speed.
  • Digital signatures: These provide extra security. They use cryptographic technology to verify the identity of the signer and ensure the document hasn’t been altered. Digital signatures offer a higher level of security and are often used for sensitive or legally significant documents.
Also read: Types Of Electronic Signatures And Which To Use

What is a signed agreement?

As an in-house legal team, you understand the critical role signed agreements play. But let's break it down. A signed agreement is a document where two or more parties put their signatures to show they agree to a set of terms and conditions. This act of signing indicates that everyone agrees to the terms outlined. It could be anything from a business contract to a lease agreement.

Importance and legally binding nature of signed agreements

Signed agreements are essential because they are legally binding. Once you sign an agreement, you are legally obligated to fulfill its terms. If any party doesn't meet their obligations, the other party can take legal action. This adds a layer of security and assurance for everyone involved.

Examples of commonly signed agreements in business

Signed agreements come in various forms. Here are some common examples you might deal with:

  • Employment contracts: These define the relationship between employer and employee, including job responsibilities and compensation
  • Non-disclosure agreements (NDAs): These protect confidential information shared between parties
  • Vendor agreements: These outline terms for purchasing goods or services from a supplier
  • Lease agreements: These set the terms for renting property or equipment
  • Partnership agreements: These detail the roles, responsibilities, and profit-sharing among business partners
Also read: Getting Digital Contracts Signed: Everything You Need to Know

Why you can't afford to skip signed agreements

Let's talk about why signed agreements are so crucial:

Legal binding and enforceability

When you sign an agreement, it becomes legally enforceable. If someone doesn't hold up their end of the deal, you can take legal action. This legal backing gives you security and accountability. Without it, you’re left without a clear path to resolve issues.

Also read: Are Electronic Signatures Legal?

Clarity and mutual understanding between parties

A signed agreement ensures everyone knows their obligations. It spells out the details in black and white, reducing the chances of misunderstandings. This clarity keeps business relationships smooth and ensures everyone is on the same page. No more "he said, she said" arguments.

Protection against disputes

Disputes happen, but a signed agreement can protect you. When disagreements arise, you can refer back to the document to resolve the issue. It’s a solid reference point that clearly states what was agreed upon, helping to settle conflicts quickly and fairly. This means fewer headaches and more focus on your work.

Also read: Finding Common Ground: How to Resolve Contract Disputes

In short, skipping signed agreements is a risk you don’t want to take. They provide legal protection, clear communication, and a safeguard against disputes. Always make sure you have a signed agreement in place to keep things running smoothly.

Step-by-step process for eSigning documents

Step 1: Choose your eSign software

First things first, you need the right tool for the job. There are several eSign software options out there, each with unique features. Popular choices include Spotdraft, DocuSign, Adobe Acrobat Sign, and SignNow. Think about what features you need, like document templates, security measures, and how well it integrates with other tools you use. Many of these services offer free trials, so you can test them out before making a decision​​.

Also read: The 11 Best Electronic Signature Software Platforms for 2023

Step 2: Create an account

Got your software picked out? Great! Now it’s time to create an account. Head to the website of your chosen eSign tool and sign up. You'll typically need to provide your name, email, and a few other details. Most platforms will walk you through the setup process step-by-step. Don't worry; it’s usually quick and straightforward. Plus, many of these tools offer free trials, so you can get a feel for how everything works without committing right away​.

Step 3: Upload your document

Next, you need to upload the document you want signed. This could be a PDF, Word document, or another supported file type. Simply drag and drop your file into the upload area or select it from your computer, cloud storage, or even your email. The software will then process the document and prepare it for the next steps. It's as easy as uploading a photo to social media​​.

Step 4: Add signers

Now it’s time to add the people who need to sign the document. Enter their names and email addresses. If you have multiple signers, you can set the order in which they need to sign. This ensures that the document is signed in a specific sequence, which can be important for more formal agreements. Some tools even let you send reminder emails to those who haven’t signed yet​​.

Step 5: Add signature fields

Here’s where you get to play a bit of digital organizer. Drag and drop signature fields to the appropriate places in your document. If you need other information like dates or initials, you can add those fields too. The interface is usually very intuitive, so you’ll feel like a pro in no time. This step ensures that every signer knows exactly where to sign and what information to provide​.

Step 6: Send the document

Once everything looks good, it’s time to send the document out for signatures. Click the send button, and the software will email a link to each signer. They’ll receive an email with instructions on how to access and sign the document. The best part is, signers can use any device – desktop, tablet, or smartphone – to sign the document​​.

Step 7: Sign the document

When the signers receive their email, they click on the link to open the document. They can sign using a mouse, finger, or stylus. Some platforms also allow uploading a scanned image of a handwritten signature, which can add an extra layer of authenticity. Signers follow the instructions to add their signatures and any other required information. Once done, they submit the document, and it's automatically routed to the next signer if there are multiple signers involved​.

Step 8: Track document status

As the document owner, you can track its status in real-time. Most eSign tools provide a dashboard where you can see who has signed and who hasn’t. If someone’s taking a bit too long, you can send them a gentle reminder. This feature helps keep the process moving smoothly and ensures you stay on top of your important documents​.

Step 9: Finalize the document

Once all signers have completed their part, the document is finalized. A copy of the signed document is usually sent to all parties via email, and it’s stored securely in your eSign software account. This way, you have a permanent, easily accessible record of the agreement. It’s a hassle-free way to ensure everything is documented and stored safely​.

Also read: Contract Signing Unveiled: A Step-By-Step Guide

Best practices for getting an agreement eSigned

“We can and should do better by the business with contracts. If you agree with me that the highest and best value the legal department can provide is getting good contracts done faster, then in-house lawyers are likely not devoting enough time to making their contracts easier to sign.”

~Sterling Miller, CEO & Senior Counsel, Hilgers Graben PLLC

Ten Things: Making Contracts Easier to Sign

There are a few key practices that can make the  agreement signing process smoother and more effective. Here’s a guide to help you get it right.

1. Choose the right eSign tool

Picking the right eSign software is your first step. Look for one that’s easy to use, secure, and integrates well with other tools you use. Popular choices include Spotdraft, Adobe Acrobat Sign, and SignNow.

2. Ensure document accuracy

Before you send the document for signatures, double-check everything. Make sure there are no errors, typos, or unclear terms. Accurate documents prevent confusion and delays.

3. Use templates for consistency

“The absence of contract templates leads to non-standardisation and makes contracts prone to errors. The legal team, therefore, is required to delve deep into contracts and proofread all clauses with a fine-tooth comb to identify and rectify the simplest of human errors.” 

~Igor Poroger, Director of Legal, EMEA, Vectra AI

How CLMs Empower Legal Teams in B2B SaaS Companies

Templates are your friend. They save you time and ensure that all your documents follow a consistent format. This not only looks professional but also ensures you don’t miss any important details.

4. Add clear instructions

Make it easy for the signers. Add clear instructions on where to sign and what information they need to provide. Visual cues or guidance text can be very helpful. This ensures that everyone knows what to do and where to do it.

5. Set signing order

If multiple people need to sign, set a specific signing order. This ensures that each person signs in the correct sequence, which can be crucial for hierarchical approvals.

6. Send reminders

People get busy and sometimes forget to sign documents. Use the reminder feature in your eSign tool to nudge them. Most eSign tools can automatically send reminders to those who haven't signed yet. This helps keep the process moving.

7. Verify signer identity

Security is key. Verify the identity of your signers to prevent fraud. Methods like email verification or two-factor authentication add an extra layer of security.

8. Use Audit Trails

Audit trails track every action taken on a document. They provide a detailed log of who signed, when, and where. This is useful for legal verification and internal audits. It also helps in maintaining transparency and accountability.

How to sign documents digitally using SpotDraft

SpotDraft streamlines the digital signing process, making it quick and secure. Here’s a concise guide to help you get started:

Step 1: Create an account

Sign up for a SpotDraft account if you don't have one. Log in if you already do

Step 2: Upload your document

Click on “+ New” and select “Send for signature”

Upload your document. SpotDraft supports various formats like PDF, DOC, and DOCX

Also read: How do I upload and prepare a contract for signing using SpotDraft Sign?

Step 3: Prepare the document

Drag and drop signature fields and other necessary fields (dates, initials) to the correct places in your document

Step 4: Add signers

Enter the names and email addresses of all signers. SpotDraft allows you to specify the signing order and add multiple signatories

Step 5: Send for signature

Send the document to the signers via email. They receive a link to access and sign the document from any device

Step 6: Sign the document

Signers can review the document and sign using a mouse, finger, or stylus. SpotDraft supports uploading scanned images of handwritten signatures for authenticity

Step 7: Track the status

Monitor the document's status through your SpotDraft dashboard. You can see who has signed and send reminders if needed

Step 8: Finalize and store

Once all signers have completed their parts, the document is finalized and securely stored. Download the signed document anytime from your SpotDraft account​​.

Also read: Instantly send your SpotDraft contracts for signatures via Adobe Sign!

Advantages of using SpotDraft

  • Unlimited eSignatures: SpotDraft offers unlimited eSignatures, making it ideal for businesses that manage a high volume of contracts without additional costs​​
  • Security: Every document is encrypted end-to-end, ensuring that sensitive data remains secure throughout the signing process​
  • Legally binding: SpotDraft’s eSignatures comply with major regulations, including ESIGN in the USA, eIDAS in Europe, and ECA in the UK, ensuring global legal recognition​
Also read: SpotDraft E-Signature Compliance
  • Audit trails: Comprehensive audit trails log every action taken on a document, including timestamps, user details, and IP addresses, ensuring transparency and accountability​
  • Multiple signatures and custom workflows: Add multiple signatories to a contract and set customized workflows to collect signatures from different parties at the right time​
  • Seamless mobile signing: SpotDraft supports mobile signing, allowing users to sign documents from anywhere, ensuring business operations continue smoothly​​
Also read: Signing Contracts on Your Mobile with SpotDraft eSigning

How Integrates with SpotDraft's eSigning

When you use SpotDraft’s digital signing feature with VerifAI, the integration streamlines the entire process. Here’s how it works:

  • Pre-signature review: Before sending a document for signature, VerifAI reviews the contract for legal compliance and potential risks. This ensures that only clean, compliant documents are sent for signature
  • Real-time feedback: As signers interact with the document, VerifAI provides real-time feedback and suggestions, helping to maintain compliance and reduce legal risks​
  • Post-signature analysis: After the document is signed, VerifAI continues to analyze the contract, ensuring that all terms are executed as intended and that no compliance issues arise

Try VerifAI!

Also read: Optimize your Signing Process with Advanced eSignatures
Try VerifAI: AI Powered Contract Review Tool

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