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Thursday, June 13, 2013

You manage or you succumb: Electronic Signature Master Plan

"I love it when a plan comes together"
Hannibal Smith.

After exploring the benefits for the countries of legislating the use of electronic signatures and the steps to follow, and try the next link in the chain, the Certification Services Providers, now it is time to talk about those who actually generate money and employment: corporations.

The electronic or digital signature is a source of corporate efficiency. The benefits have been widely discussed (an example, in this product page) and, among them are:
  • to travel and tails of the people involved in the process of signing are avoided,
  • signed documents can be collected and archived in a digital format, without ever having to move the paper,
  • the distance is no longer a problem, so any document will be signed by all parties, much faster, and more efficiently than if signed by hand,
  • due to the fact that the documents are stored in digital format, its identification is also much easier and faster, thanks to search tools,
  • digital signature technology is safer than the handwritten one, so impersonate an identity is much more complex,
  • direct cost savings, avoiding shipments, or reducing the consumption of paper and ink or
  • is aligned with environmental improvement.
However, most of these benefits are achieved in two situations:

  • when it makes extensive use of electronic signatures in any procedure
  • when using the proper electronic signature level to every need

To plan a proper deployment of electronic signature applications, ensuring to meet legal requirements and best practices and optimize technology investment becomes an essential element to take full advantage of the introduction of electronic signatures in our organization.

Electronic signature is a tool applicable to many processes: electronic records management, procurement, electronic notice, signing labor contracts in staffing agencies, reports and installation bulletins signing, waybills, NDAs, clinical trials, electronic voting, electronic prescriptions (ES) (including veterinary -ES one more time-) and of course electronic invoice, are some prominent examples. Ultimately it is the element that allows fully developing business processes without leaving the electronic world, thus obtaining significant improvements in business efficiency.

The deployment of these applications can be achieved by maintaining a common core technology. That's why when you decide to deploy any of them should do so from a global perspective, aligned with the organizational strategy. In order to respond to this need, it is necessary to have an Electronic Signature Master Plan

This Plan should be aligned with business objectives and embedded in the Security Policy of the company. Among the tasks identified in the Plan, you should find the following:

  1. Diagnosis of the current situation of the customer in terms of business processes (value chain) and its technological infrastructure, to identify key opportunities for using digital signatures, find organizational and technological barriers to its implementation and possible expansion to subsidiaries and investees.
  2. Detailed analysis of the key processes that will lead to identifying the needs of: digital identity within the organization, certificate policies, forms and types of documents and transactions, signature types and formats, electronic archiving and long-term preservation.
  3. Design integration scenarios needed for the implementation of electronic signatures in the operating environment. Establishment of procedures and regulations for design and development of the integration of electronic signatures in business applications and processes of the organization, from architectures and applications deployed in the organization.
  4. Proposal of technological implementation alternatives. Set of recommendations and technical requirements for the establishment of a signature and validation services platform in the organization. Comparative advantages and benefits associated.
  5. Electronic document. Development of guidelines for electronic document management and archiving. Formats, long terms signatures, electronic evidences, archival, cryptographic revalidation and historical verification procedures.
  6. Adaptation to the legislation. Functional and technological implications for reasonable compliance with current legislation or in regulatory process. Deadlines for implementation and standardization proposals for the adaptation of the client.
  7. Internal and external communication plan. Suggestions for dissemination in the organization of the need and advantages of implementing electronic signatures, in order to get the support of the managing board and its commitment to implement it.
  8. Design of a deployment program, and first list of suggestions for the implementation of electronic signatures in the organization. Prioritization in terms of benefits to obtain and regulatory compliance risks. Electronic signature as the new organization's competitive advantage.
So, for all this, if you want to implement electronic signatures in your organization, do not forget to manage ... with an Electronic Signature Master Plan.

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