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In our Digital Signature ROI series, we’ve been describing all of the dramatic ways digital signatures can change the nature of your business and deliver amazing returns. For the next few entries, we're going to talk about the efficiencies, time savings and other process improvements that can be gained with electronic signatures. (Check out the first post here.)

For decades, we’ve been promised the paperless office and all the dramatic changes that the lack of paper would produce - no filing cabinets, no folders, no overflowing mailboxes, and no overnight mail. Word processors, then computers, then the internet, and now mobile devices all were supposed to have made our lives simpler by allowing us to generate and review documents on a screen as opposed to on paper. 

Forty-five years ago, Jim Henson (yeah, the Muppets guy…may he rest in peace) was hired to create a film entitled the “Paperwork Explosion,” promoting IBM’s early word processing and dictation systems. Check out the trippy, experimental video below.

So what happened?   More than four decades ago, countless folks in this video said (in disturbingly repetitive fashion): “There’s more paper than ever. There always seemed to be enough time and people to do the paperwork.”

Yet even today, there’s more paper than ever! The Minnesota Office of Environmental Assistance reported that the average office worker uses over 10,000 pieces of copy paper each year, and that the costs of using paper in the office are up to 31 times higher than the cost of just purchasing the paper!

But you’re saying, “Hey, that’s why we purchased a contract management system and subscribe to that online forms service.” And yes, you’re likely more efficient than you were when all of those documents were manually generated, copied, and handled.

However, just because you’re generating electronic documents, and are having users fill out electronic forms on the web, it doesn’t mean you’ve hit the pinnacle of efficiency. Why? Because you still need signatures! Signatures and approvals are an essential part of modern business. In fact, businesses report that a majority of their processes require signatures.

The Association for Information and Image Management (AIIM) surveyed businesses regarding their signature practices and found that more than half of the printed documents used in a process were printed solely because of a requirement for a wet ink signature. In addition, they found that each signed document was accompanied by another 3-4 copies. That’s a lot of paper and a ton of inefficiency.

And then those signed paper documents, in multiple copies, have to find their way to other people to sign. And on, and on.

So we’ve clearly defined the problem.  We can’t deliver on the promise of the paperless office until we account for one of the main causes of all the paper moving throughout our offices – wet ink signatures.

In the next few posts, we’ll look at how using electronic signatures can create more productive employees and workflows and how electronic signatures can reduce drag on your revenues.

ROI of Digital Signatures Calculator

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