5 Reasons Government Agencies and Councils are adopting Digital Signatures Posted on June 30, 2022 - 5:19 am by John Webster Government Departments and local councils have a responsibility to reduce operational costs and their carbon footprint while serving customers efficiently and keeping sensitive information such as personal details and data secure. The volume of paperwork and official forms in government departments and local council offices is staggering, so a move towards digitalization makes sense. Digital applications are increasingly replacing paper-based processes, both in business and public service. With automation, government agencies can ditch the paper-based processes and leave the cost and inefficiency involved in handling and storing paper documents in the past. Digital signatures are an important part of this process, as they are the electronic “fingerprints” that validate the authenticity and integrity of a digital document. The government of Singapore had the foresight to roll out a digital signature service for its residents and businesses in 2020, and the global pandemic has further accelerated governments’ digital transformation efforts. In February 2021, Casey Coleman published an article on the Washington Post which explains why many government agencies worldwide took the pandemic as a catalyst to accelerate their planned digital transformations and cloud services, as many were long overdue but often took years to implement. The only way is forward, and here’s why: 1. Digitized Processes are more Efficient There are a lot of reasons for a government organization to go paperless and adopt digital signatures, with the most obvious one being cost efficiency. The savings on printing, postage and storing that mountain of paper add up fast, but digitalization can also save tons of time. Organizations that go digital save hours on data entry and manual searches for records. The pandemic accelerated the digitalization process, as many government organizations turned to IT to solve new challenges such as remote working and surges in demand for certain services. An example of a government organization in the US that was previously paper based but shifted to digital is DeKalb County in Atlanta, Georgia. With the COVID-19 lockdowns, the previously paper-based organization chose to move to a completely virtual environment. It was a shift that translated to increased efficiency, as tracking documents electronically created the ability to move through internal processes much faster. Secured Signing offered DeKalb County an intuitive solution that provided signing workflow capabilities and streamlined the organization’s signing procedures. It now facilitates the organization’s entire signing workflow, from document creation and e-forms to configuring the signing process including reviewer, providing reminders and notifications, all with an advanced reporting tool. “We identified it as a solution to quickly adopt and provide a level of automation and continuity in various high traffic departments including Legal, Purchasing, Executive Offices, and Courts to sustain a smooth operation,” said Felicia Green, Deputy CIO at DeKalb County Government. 2. Creating a Seamless Experience Automating document processes may sound complicated, but it is simply an extension of the paper-based way of managing your documents. Document digitization and secure signing allows for a more sustainable, responsible, and streamlined administration. Digitizing creates a seamless experience that improves customer experience and in turn, keeps your staff happy. By removing pain-points created by paper-based processes, customers become accustomed to their ability to fill out and sign documents from their mobile device or the comfort of their own home. No more worrying about travel time, putting documents into envelopes and sending them off, or wondering if the documents have been delivered successfully. By modernizing your approach to document management, you free up time for all involved in the process, with more time to focus on other things that matter. Digital document management solutions for government agencies allow for easy access to information contained in files, which creates a smoother public service and a faster turnaround. It is efficient, convenient, easily accessible, and exceptionally secure. For customers, replacing manual processes and paper forms with digital workflows and secure online forms results in a faster response time and a significant reduction in errors and delays. Citizens of today have an appetite for more digitally enabled public services and many want to have more of a say in how and where these services are delivered. More about this here. 3. Empowered Organizations with Improved Processes Document digitalization goes well beyond the simple goal of migrating paper into digital documents, although that is usually where it starts. With efficient use of forms as a data collection platform, maximization of data management between departments and regions is made possible. Government agencies and local councils typically center their efforts on four capabilities: services, processes, decisions, and data sharing. With an automated digital process, incoming digital applications will be automatically sent to the correct department allowing for a more transparent and streamlined process. If approvals, required documents or signatures are missing from the form, it will be identified by the software and either the document can’t be submitted, or the appropriate party will be notified. This type of efficiency significantly limits turnaround times spent on requesting documentation and reviewing applications between departments or back to the customer. By eliminating paper, you eliminate all the administrative tasks that come with it. Filing, posting, signing, filling out forms, following up with people, everything. A good digitized system will take care of all of that for you and will empower your team to get things done in time. 4. Meet Sustainability Goals Matamata-Piako District Council in New Zealand began their transition to the digital space in 2016, when they realized it would be beneficial to hold their council meetings digitally. This included the meeting minutes, agendas, reports and contracts that need to be distributed to, and signed by, elected representatives. The organization’s main goal was to achieve an efficient green solution for circulating and approving documentation and items, which also helped them achieve their broader strategic sustainability goal to reduce carbon emissions. Following extensive research and reviews of other products over a couple of years, Matamata-Piako District Council selected Secured Signing as one of their main digital transformation partners and has been using the service since October 2019. The digital process for filling out forms and securely obtaining signatures has allowed them to meet their strategic sustainability goals. You can download the Matamata-Piako District Council Case Study here. 5. Solutions for Everyone Document digitalization, automation and secure digital signatures can be used by governments of all levels, from local/county/region through to state and federal. Of course, an organization won’t go paperless in a day. There’s a lot involved in the process. A good first step is to find a process that’s heavy with incoming documents, such as the Matamata-Piako District Council did with their meetings, then digitize it on the front end. It is however important for local councils and government organizations to not ignore those who may not have access to the internet or people who aren’t comfortable with technology to submit digital applications, pay bills online, or access online platforms. Where documentation digitization is becoming more mainstream, equal access to information and support for all demographics must still be prioritized. That’s why user-friendly FAQs and tutorials, along with having a responsive and knowledgeable tech support team in place is important to guide people through the system if need be. An investment in software that allows for secured document signing and to accept digital applications for matters such as building permits, licensing and secure online payments will pay itself back in no time due to the efficiencies it brings. The digital transformation of a government body can be challenging, but many public institutions around the world have discovered the rewards. How secure digital signing works Secured Signing has been at the forefront of the digital signing industry for over a decade and our software is full of innovative features. It provides a one-stop digital signature service that delivers a full range of form completion and eSigning capabilities. The digital signing platform provides a multitude of features: unlimited number of signers, templates and fillable forms, out-of-the-box security through PKI digital signatures, as well as notarization and video signing capabilities to ensure effective use across all departments. Using advanced personalized X509 PKI Digital Signature technology, it is more secure than a plain electronic signature, as Public Key Infrastructure (PKI) technology is the only technology available today that ensures non-forgeable signatures. Secured Signing enables its users to use any device to capture their graphical signature, fill-in, sign, seal and verify documents anywhere, anytime. The solution streamlines operational processes, cuts back on expenses, expedites delivery cycles, improves staff efficiency, and enhances customer service in a more sustainable environment. If you would like more information about digital signing or have any questions about how our digital signing platform can benefit your organization, please don’t hesitate to contact us.