The challenges of Digital SigningPublished on: Author: Binu Badurudeen Category: Java & Web
Signing contracts is daily practice for many companies. This is often done by sending a contract by e-mail, after which the customer prints, signs, scans and returns it. This process can be shortened using digital signatures. Together with a team of colleagues*, I worked on a project for one of our clients to implement digital signing in their organization.
Our client operates in the European office space rental sector. In this competitive market, speed is everything. They therefore asked us to come up with a solution for their contract signing process. In this article I’ll shed some light to the digital signage concept, describe our client’s question and explain some of the challenges we encountered and the solutions we found.
What is digital signing?
Digital signing allows customers to view a document online and review and accept it without having to print and scan the document. This is an alternative to manually signing a document. It’s also possible to present extra information, such as bank account or credit card details. Signing is done by drawing your signature. The information is returned to the sender in the same way as a manually signed document.
Our client used contract signing according to the methods described above. After a tenant returned the scanned document by e-mail, an employee had to process it manually. Signed contracts must be marked properly to avoid double bookings. Rejected contracts must be marked to make sure office space can be allocated to other customers.
We were faced with some interesting challenges during the project. Below I’ve described 4 of these challenges and their solutions.
Challenge #1: integrating third party software
Our first challenge was choosing the right third-party software to integrate with our own software. It had to be able to deal with all of our challenges. We looked at different options before choosing DocuSign.
We chose DocuSign because of its Rest API support. DocuSign also offers the option of creating a SandBox account in which different trial scenarios are possible. This proved to be extremely useful. DocuSign also supports different languages, such as Java, C# and Node.JS.
Challenge #2: tracking the progress
Another challenge involved tracking documents. This included, avoiding duplicates of the same document and handling different document flow options (sign / cancel / finish later) in DocuSign.
DocuSign provides Java API sets for logging in to your account, creating a document, retrieving existing documents and checking the status. Using the API’s we were able to handle all of these scenarios.
Challenge #3: expiring documents
Documents created in DocuSign usually expire within a matter of minutes. Creating a new document every time a customer opens an e-mail is not ideal. We also wanted the document to be retrievable for the customer.
We tackled the challenge of expiring documents using Digital Ocean provided by the API’s. The document status and related information are stored in a local database. Now, customers can continue where they left off.
Challenge #4: security
The fourth challenge was making sure the signing process was secure.
Security is based on mail accessibility, which guarantees protection. The sender receives a confirmation notice once the document has been signed or rejected. We use trusted firms who handle the signing process through their website.
Our client was very pleased with the implementation of the digital signing process. The employees who used to do the work manually now realize they have more time to focus on other work. The client saw more possibilities for saving time by digitizing their processes. We are currently working on implementing other features as well.
* Project colleagues: Arvind Mohabir, Joey Roosing, Koen Boes, Jesse van Leeuwen and Ravi Krishnan.