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Document digitisation enables the enterprise

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For an organisation to achieve true end-to-end digital transformation – and compete effectively in the new digital economy – it’s essential to move away from manual, paper-based processes, says Avi Rose, DocuSign regional sales manager – Africa.

Despite the fact that a number of organisations are on the path to establish fully digital business processes using leading-edge enterprise technology solutions, they still end up converting documents into paper-based formats to handle signing processes.

By clinging to the old habits of print, sign, scan, we’re breaking the digital chain and inhibiting the organisation’s ability to become digitally fluent. Electronic signatures can help bridge this gap.

There are a number of benefits, aside from the efficiency gains of moving to fully-digital document management solutions that include signature automation:

* Data security – with tools like multi-factor authentication, password managers, strong policies, and vigilant monitoring, companies can keep tighter control over the security and integrity of their documents.
* Version control – there is no ambiguity over which version of a document is the original, or which one is the most-updated, for instance.
* Costs – when printing and scanning, more human intervention is inevitably involved – pushing up costs in areas like salaries, printing fees, paper, routing, and storage.
* Control – physical documents carry numerous risks: they may disappear, get stolen, damaged, or accidently destroyed. With digital solutions, this is not possible.
* Less dependencies – paper-based systems are inherently more dependent on other processes, both within and outside the organisation. For example, the organisation often relies on postal or couriering services – which could be avoided with the right digital approach.

Digitisation also enables companies to achieve a far richer context, relating to the history of a document – showing date-lined records of every annotation and update to the document. With paper-based or hybrid (paper and digital combined) solutions, tracking the evolution of a document is often extremely difficult or impossible.

Digitising processes is an essential step on the road to digital transformation, and adding electronic signatures is a must-have part of it. This creates the foundation for organisations to benefit from the vast array of digital advantages including:

* Collaboration within the enterprise, as well as with partners, suppliers and customers, becomes far more fluid when documents can be securely and instantly exchanged and worked on via mobile devices from wherever the individual may be.

* Decision-making is enriched by all the electronic data that is captured and processed by advanced analytics engines – giving leaders the ability to spot trends and design strategies based on solid data.

* Risk management is improved by having all company documentation securely organised into libraries that can be accessed at any point – satisfying governance requirements, requests from industry regulators, and other legal bodies.

* Innovation rates tend to ramp-up, powered by a greater number of stakeholders having access to digital information – helping employees find new, profitable, business opportunities.

While incoming regulations such as the POPI (Protection of Personal Information) Act may well be the catalyst for many organisations to embrace digitisation, the other benefits noted above should be seen as equally compelling. Taken together, they make it worthwhile for any organisation to look at starting a digitisation project as soon as it they possibly can.