• November 17, 2009
  • By Jason Lemkin, CEO and cofounder, EchoSign

E-Signatures Transform a Tortoise into a Hare

In an economy that demands efficiency, it's more important than ever for companies to find new ways to speed up operations and sales transactions. For several years, software-as-a-service (SaaS) has been offering the promise of better, cheaper, faster, and more reliable applications than companies can manage themselves. SaaS started with core CRM applications, but it is now broadening its scope, enabling enterprises to implement a variety of best practices company-wide. One such best practice is in the signature acquisition process, which has long been a huge and expensive headache for most companies. Smart companies have discovered e-signatures as a means to be more efficient, cut costs, and provide more flexibility in how they manage their businesses.

The Sense (and Cents) of E-Signatures

Prior to SaaS, various software packages, and resulting best practices, within an organization were often found in siloed pockets or departments. They often did not transcend across an entire organization due to expensive software costs or lengthy implementations. Typically, SaaS offers shorter implementation cycles and is less expensive than on-premises solutions, so it offers companies the ability to overlay a single application, and, in turn, a single end-to-end best practice across the company.

Electronic signatures are an ideal use of the SaaS model. In the past, getting a signature on a business-critical document could take days or even months, which threatens the completion of the transaction. However, with a Saas model, electronic signatures allow companies to conduct business in the cloud because contracts can be accessed anytime on demand, and everyone involved in the contract signing process--sales, operations, services, finance or legal--can participate in getting a contract signed online. E-signatures delivered as a service are faster, more efficient, and cost effective because they bridge the gap between traditional silos through accessibility, streamlined operations, and accelerated revenue acquisition.

Regardless of the size of the document or whether the recipient is accessing it from a mobile device, SaaS e-signature tools are as easy to use as sending an email. The entire signature process is automated from the request for signature to the distribution and filing of the executed agreement or form. As a result, customer billing can be expedited, and operations are up and running right away.

Putting E-Signatures to Work

Whether you are a small business or a Fortune 500 company, speeding up your customer contract process offers a competitive advantage.

VacationRentalPros.com is a full-service property management vacation rental company that manages about 200 properties including condos, homes, and beach houses in Palm Coast and Venice, Florida. The company manages a whopping 100 to 150 contracts each month for independent contractor employment, property owners, and vacation rentals.

Using a Saas-based e-signature solution VacationRentalPros.com has saved more than $13,000 annually on postage, printing and toner cartridges, storage space, and process automation. The company has seen signed contracts returned in as fast as 2 to 3 hours, and a 50 percent reduction in contract cancellations. And since the technology is Web-based, everything is automatically stored online and is easily found within a couple of clicks.

As the second largest cable operator in the U.S., Time Warner Cable's Business Operations Group needed a way to get commercial customer contracts signed faster. The telecommunications business is very competitive, and customers often require services on short notice. Sometimes customers even lose or change agreements. Before, the primary way to get contracts signed was by attaching a contract and sending it by email, or printing a contract and faxing it to the customer.

In the first half of 2009 alone, Time Warner Cable's Carolinas region sent out more than 1,000 agreements per month with an average time-to-sign of 76 minutes. Now the company can quickly implement consistent best practices, and the online central repository of contracts ensures easier and faster quality assurance and postsales review.

SaaS has held promise for many years, but in 2009, the technology has flourished especially in the e-signature space. Companies that may once have been hesitant to take advantage of the SaaS model have begun to embrace the lower cost option for acquiring and transacting. With the availability of e-signature as a SaaS solution, you can take advantage of a powerful tool that can have an immediate impact on your business.

About the Author

Jason Lemkin (jason@echosign.com) is chief executive officer and cofounder of EchoSign. His operational experience spans the business development, sales, legal, human resource, and finance fields.

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