Skip to main content

Imagine finalizing a crucial deal, but waiting for traditional signatures delays it. Sound familiar?

Now mainstream, thanks to digital transformation and the pandemic-induced remote work trend, electronic signatures offer a fast, secure, and convenient solution to this common business bottleneck.

Unlike in the past where in-person meetings were necessary for signing, most paperwork today is efficiently completed electronically. Will paper documentation ever be primary again? Unlikely. Interested in the benefits of electronic signatures? Let's explore.

Jump to:

What is an Electronic Signature?

Electronic signatures are digital signatures you can add to a document online without having to physically be present to give your “wet signature” (handwritten signature, ink-on-paper). Electronic documents can be signed remotely from a computer or mobile device and then sent securely and directly to other stakeholders to sign or review.

When Should You Use an E-signature?

Generally speaking, an electronic signature is used for the exact same purpose as a wet signature: to act as proof that the signatory party has seen and agrees with the terms of the document.

Many HR software solutions now include electronic signature technology, further enhancing workflow efficiency. It’s a paperless option that can improve turnaround times and enhance workflow efficiency by cutting down on the need for in-person meetings. And it saves a huge amount of paper too!

Benefits of Using Electronic Signatures

There are many advantages of electronic signatures as compared to handwritten signatures. Let’s take a look at what I consider to be the 6 biggest benefits:


Since electronic signatures are paperless, they’re an excellent way for climate-conscious businesses to “walk the talk”. They let your customers know that your commitment to sustainability extends beyond your brand literature and into how you conduct your business operations.

Download our 2024 Workplace Trends Report to stay ahead in a transforming HR landscape. Get insights from leaders on trends that will define your strategies in AI, talent dynamics, and DEI.

Download our 2024 Workplace Trends Report to stay ahead in a transforming HR landscape. Get insights from leaders on trends that will define your strategies in AI, talent dynamics, and DEI.

  • By submitting this form, you agree to receive the requested content, our newsletter, and occasional emails related to People Managing People. You can unsubscribe at any time. For more details, please review our privacy policy. We're protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.


Signing documents electronically represents instant cost savings as it cuts back on your team’s billable hours. Rather than having to book an in-person meeting, electronic signatures can be gathered remotely, reducing the costs associated with tasks like postage, printing, and filing storage.

Reduction of Human Error

When preparing an electronic document, you can pre-fill many parts of the form, reducing the risk of human error when signing. Many e-signature solutions, including Adobe and DocuSign, also automatically flag each place in your digital document that requires a signature, ensuring nothing is missed accidentally.


Digital authentication methods and enhanced security features ensure digital signatures are verified, helping you meet all regulatory compliance requirements. This type of software also protects documents from tampering, maintaining the integrity of your document.

Collecting signatures electronically also creates an audit trail that can be easily examined in the event of a concern.

Workflow Automation

Within an electronic document, approvals are automated. This means that the signing process is inherently streamlined according to your desired workflow. Many software solutions offer integrated e-signature functionalities to optimize this process.

Visibility & Transparency

All signers can see who signed the document, and instantly receive a fully-signed copy once it's been approved by all relevant parties. Most electronic signature solutions will also store signed documents for archiving purposes, making them easy to locate later on.

Improved UX

Electronic signatures enhance customer experience by making documents easier and faster to sign. If you’re preparing paperwork for a busy executive who travels often, no problem! They can sign it from the airport as they board their flight.


Electronic signatures don’t require a room full of filing cabinets to house the paperwork. They can be sent to anyone, from anywhere, at any time, and stored electronically for future reference.

ROI - Return on Investment

Using software to collect digital signatures can enhance a company's return on its investment by streamlining workflows, accelerating contract closures (requiring fewer work hours), and reducing costs related to paper, ink, and mailing.

How do electronic signatures work?

Electronic signatures assist in contract management by authenticating, tracking, and storing signer information. They act just like a handwritten signature and are unique to each signatory party.

Signers can choose to use a stylus to create their electronic signature or adopt a typed signature. Typically at the outset of the document, the signer would choose which option they prefer and adopt it for the remainder of the document.

For team members who are new to electronic signatures, it may be helpful to offer onboarding training. This way, they can walk your users through the process and answer any questions that come up.

Electronic signatures are legal and recognized by many regulatory compliance guidelines, including the electronic Identification, Authentication, and trust Services (eIDAS) regulation in the European Union, and the Uniform Electronic Transactions Act (UETA) in the United States.

Regulations on the legality of e-signatures can change based on geographic location, and, sometimes, even within a country, the requirements will be different depending on the state or province within which you’re operating.

It’s best to check that your specific circumstance falls within the regulatory compliance guidelines before choosing to adopt an electronic signature process.

When are e-signatures not accepted?

There are still a few areas where handwritten signatures are generally required. These include:

  • Documentation for transporting hazardous materials
  • Wills, trusts, and other legal documents
  • Recall notices for public health and safety
  • Notices of termination for health or life insurance
  • Foreclosure, eviction, and default notices for an individual’s primary residence
  • Court orders and official documents
  • Documentation regarding divorce, adoption, and family law.

Electronic signature software

To complete documentation with secure electronic signatures, you’ll need to choose a software solution. There’s an extensive list of service providers available, and each has its own unique benefits.

When choosing a solution, it’s best to start with a free trial. This way you can test the functionality to confirm it works for your specific business needs. You also want to ensure your e-signature solution integrates with the existing platforms your team currently uses.

Key Features and Use Cases

As you shop around for the best e-signature solution, I recommend paying close attention to these key features:

  • Editing and commenting features: The software should provide you with the ability to add helpful comments (like explanations or instructions) and to edit the document as needed.
  • Security: Make sure that the software has authentication and identity proofing functionality, and data encryption.
  • Templates: For ease of use, look for software solutions that provide templates you can build on.
  • Automated workflow: Make sure your software allows you to create automation for things like confirmations and approvals.
  • Storage: Document archiving saves time and space that would be spent filing paper documents.
  • Audit trails: Choose a solution that allows you to look back in the event of a concern.
  • Mobile functionality: To reach the largest number of customers, ensure that your solution supports both desktop and mobile.
  • Branding customization: Including your logo and brand colors in your paperwork adds a professional touch.

Need expert help selecting the right Contract & eSigning Software?

If you’re struggling to choose the right software, let us help you. Just share your needs in the form below and you’ll get free access to our dedicated software advisors who match and connect you with the best vendors for your needs.

Learn more about document management

Choosing the right e-signature software to suit your business needs takes time and consideration. To learn more about what’s available, check out our article summarizing the best electronic signature software to collect signatures, including answers to some popular FAQs.

If you’re looking for ways to enhance the efficiency and security of your document management processes, subscribe to our newsletter. When our experts publish new articles and release new podcast episodes, you’ll be the first to know.

By Tim Reitsma

Tim has deep experience in HR, people & culture, leadership, business strategy and operations with a focus on building great teams who are excited about their craft and their organization. With over 15 years of leadership experience, Tim has always been guided by his core values: faith, family, curiosity, and fun. He is a coach, mentor, speaker, advisor, and an active volunteer in his community. Tim loves spending time outdoors with his wife and two kids as well as mountain biking in the north shore mountains.