Each day enterprise organizations sign hundreds – if not thousands – of documents. These might include legal agreements, NDAs, sales contracts, and onboarding forms (like W-4s, I9s, and W-9s). Coordinating all that paperwork takes a lot of effort across teams, and unfortunately, it’s easy for companies to pour time and resources into ineffective systems. Sometimes without even knowing it!
For example, employees might be spending hours manually tracking paperwork when they could be using that time to support other company goals. Or sales teams could be printing and faxing every sales contract, totally slowing down the close for a deal. With wasted resources like these at stake, it’s no wonder companies are turning to digital systems to more efficiently manage their paperwork online.
Enterprise companies that transition their paperwork flows online save time, money, and – most importantly – keep up with startup competitors who may already be using digital tools to handle their paperwork.
But how exactly do you go about taking paperwork online?
A great way to expedite and automate your document signing process is by integrating an eSignature solution like HelloSign's API. This solution allows you to easily embed paperwork flows of your choosing right into an application or a website.
Don’t worry if you’re not familiar with setting up an API! You don’t have to be a developer to get started. Many HelloSign customers come from the business side of enterprise organizations, including (non-technical) CEOs, COOs, directors of HR or Sales, or department heads.
Here are a few tips to set you up for success.
1. Assign your project owner & work together to create a timeline with specific dates
You'll want to start out by asking yourself, “Who in the company will own this project?” If not you, you'll need a project owner who truly understands the paperwork flow(s) that need to be automated at your company. This is also a great time to figure out who else needs to approve the project internally. For example, you may need to get sign off from your IT or legal team, in addition to your business owner.
Once the roles are assigned, sit down with the project owner(s) and key stakeholders to discuss the ideal timeline. Start by figuring out the target date you’d like to be up and running with the eSignature API, then work backward by mapping out these two key dates:
- Go live date Decide what date you want to have electronic signing in place and introduced to your users, signers, and clients
- Developing dates Integrating an eSignature API does require technical implementation, so you’ll want to build in time for development. The average time for integrating the HelloSign API is 2.5 days.
Once you've established your timeline, it's time to...
2. Determine who will be implementing the API
Because any API takes some technical prowess to implement, it's important to establish who will be in charge of the technical side of things. If your company has an in-house engineering team, I'd strongly suggest aligning with them first to determine who will be the lead developer for the integration. No in-house developer? No problem! Many customers hire a 3rd party software development shop to do the implementation.
Keep in mind that the clearer you can be in scoping the project, the easier it will be to get a developer up to speed. A HelloSign Account Executive can help with this and, for technical assistance, we have an amazing API Support team at firstname.lastname@example.org.
3. Define your ideal document workflows
After verifying the technical support for the project, it’s time to flesh out the document workflows you'd like to automate. Start by looking at the document workflows you currently have in place. Outline what types of documents need to be signed in your company and your current process for obtaining signatures for these documents.
Once you have a clear idea of the state of the state, ask yourself "What's the company's ideal document workflow?" An ideal workflow might include improvements like faster turnaround time for the documents and less manual entry.
Here are the top areas targeted for improvement I usually hear from our customers:
- Increased efficiency. Companies can save hours, or even days of employee time processing and chasing down signatures on contracts and documents simply by implementing electronic signing. Contracts can be turned around immediately and everyone in the enterprise benefits: HR departments onboarding, sales teams executing contracts & NDAs, customers completing applications, and more. Putting this efficiency at the forefront of your project might be the best bet for you!
- Stronger legality for documents. Did you know that eSignatures are actually more secure than pen and paper signatures? That's because each eSignature comes with a court permissible, time-stamped audit trail that tracks a document through its journey. These added protections can be particularly appealing to businesses who deal with legal or sensitive information.
- Better user experience (UX). If documents are being signed by valued customers or your company cares about seamless workflows, creating document workflows that center around the best user experience may be your top priority. For example, many on-demand marketplaces are opting to have eSignatures embedded directly into their website with the HelloSign API. This means their signers don’t have to worry about navigating to different windows to sign, creating a better user experience overall (read more here). We're the only eSignature solution to offer full white labeling, so you can make this signing flow look no different from your own site.
4. Commit to your budget and set up billing
An eSignature API – like any other business service – is an investment. Yet when compared to the cost of old-fashioned document management, it’s quite easy to see the enormous saving potential for companies.
Here are some areas of possible ROI to think about when considering the budget:
- Manual costs. Manually processing even one document has big costs. These can include basic expenses such as printing costs, paper, and ink. With many companies, this number is increased immensely by mailing or FedEx costs.
- Employee time. The biggest savings is often overlooked. Time. Think about how much time could be saved by eliminating printing, signing, and scanning. Not to mention the value of giving back man hours to your team to work on other projects once they don’t have to worry about administrative tasks.
- Turnaround time. As a sales executive, my own deals often depend on having contracts signed. eSignatures enable documents to be signed immediately which drastically cuts down the time for closing deals - sometimes by weeks or more. There is also a full audit trail which allows you to see when documents have been viewed, signed, and are fully executed so you can always know exactly what’s happening with a document and when you need to follow up. Once you calculate how much you're spending in any one of these areas, it's much easier to figure out what a reasonable price to pay for automating paperwork might be for your company. You can take a look at all of the pricing tiers by reaching out to our Enterprise sales team.
5. Create a production account
You're getting closer to launch – time to test it all out! Many developers who work on the API integration set up a test account using their own email address. This is a perfect way to take the API for a test drive.
Just remember that once you are ready to go live with your API, you want to make sure the account is tied to the email address you’ll be checking regularly. Many companies establish an email address specifically for their HelloSign account, for example: email@example.com.
6. Schedule an App Approval call and take your solution live!
The final step before officially going live with your eSignature API is to hop on a 30-minute call with a member of our API Support team to walk through your solution to make sure everything looks great and works properly. They'll help you navigate through any final questions.
There you have it!
Those six steps above should help you get a handle on the process. It’s worth noting that an eSignature API may not be a good fit for every company. Businesses with a very low volume of paperwork, with no engineering resources or unable to use an outside firm for development work, may want to consider a non-API eSignature solution (we can help with that, too!).
But for those who are ready to embed their paperwork flows online, we’re more than ready to personally walk you through the process. Contact us by visiting our API pricing page and clicking on the Enterprise block.