Embedding a Digital Signature in a Business Document Workflow

Digitization of documents has grown in importance, especially: security of documents stored, certified signatures, secure distribution and legal compliance of these documents.

What kind of digital signature do you need?

Digital signatures come in various formats. It could be a .pfx file in smart cards or USB dongles, or large and expensive devices like HSM, Hardware Security Module. Some of these devices have a broader use and are not limited to just signing documents, as they can transform documents for legal compliance.

The concerns that are not addressed by just the signing are concerns about traceability and accountability.  Since the volume of documents increases as one grows, it is essential to keep track of who signed which document. Of course, you can have unique digital signatures for each individual, but that is not always practical. A more practical solution is to have a common & legally-acceptable, digital signature for all these documents with a built-in way to identify the signing authority. This could be achieved by having a wet ink signature embedded into the document before it is digitally signed. This secured e-signature, reflecting the wet ink signature, will make the document easily traceable and the signers accountable.

Secured e-signature reflecting the wet ink signature

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Is the eDocument signer who he says he is?

The other concern highlighted from a legal standpoint is that if these documents are automatically signed, then how can one be sure they were reviewed and approved by the person whose identity is present in the document as a signer? This question requires careful consideration.

You really need to be sure that the system you have is compliant with all departments and situations. This is where a workflow maintained for these documents would be useful. Within a workflow, these documents would be subject to scrutiny and would be signed only once the reviewer has approved them. This would remove the element of doubt. It will still be automated, as well as secure and thorough in covering all of your compliance needs.

Once the documents are approved, they are signed by the reviewer in the form of an electronic version of the wet ink signature and then digitally signed to meet the legal compliance needs. The use of a workflow gives you the flexibility to define multiple use cases and scenarios with ease and make business more dynamic and pro-active.

Following the right procedure and choosing the right product is key to successfully achieving your digitization goals while remaining in compliance. Also it would take care of the major concerns about document security, legality and secure document distribution.

Multiple, automated & unique digital signatures

Business documents released by Entreprise Application, ERP, CRM, BPM
Approval with e-signature reflecting the wet ink signature
Digital signature secures PDF content
Business document distribution and storage

Digital signature validates authenticity and integrity of the document