Gone are the days when you had to run down to the city office to sign off on a change to a design using a good ol’ fashioned Bic pen. Well, mostly. While there are still a few occasions where you still need “wet ink” to finalize a document or a permit application based on the
jurisdiction, the construction industry is increasingly adopting electronic signatures, or esignatures, as a secure means of denoting approval and receipt in the workflow.
From a time-savings perspective, e-signatures prevent the need for you to physically be in the same room as printed-out paperwork. The paperwork doesn’t have to “find” you, and more importantly, you don’t have to take time away from your jobsite or your desk to go somewhere else to sign off on a document.
Contrary to common perception, many personal security firms note that e-signatures are actually more secure than “wet ink” signatures. That’s because an e-signature is not just a scribble of your name: an e-signature can capture the time, place and device used to sign off
on the document, as well as specific codes that verify the identity of the signer. In fact, new tech is being developed where a sign off doesn’t even use your signature, but instead might use a thumb print or a retinal scan. We’re not talking about the scratchy credit card scanner at your
To make the most of technology like e-signatures, make sure your team is educated and equipped to utilize digital sign offs from the office, shop or jobsite. Here are three tips to getting the most from using e-signatures.
- Mobile tech: All the people who need to sign off on a change order or a requisition are likely to be spread over a wide area–perhaps internationally–and in a variety of environments: an office, a warehouse, or a construction site, as examples. Providing them access to the document through a mobile phone or a tablet enables them to respond quicker from where they are than if they have to review the information elsewhere.
- Interconnected platforms: Signing off on a change or a shipment receipt shouldn’t require you to go to multiple programs or files to approve the information wherever it’s listed. Platforms are designed to share that approval across documents, from a spool drawing to work order. The interconnected systems should update all relevant documents that the items were approved and inform the stakeholders upstream and down.
- System security: An e-signature is only as secure as the system it’s given on, so make sure your system–whether it’s a phone, a tablet or your desktop computer–has sufficient security protocols, and check that all the “patches” for your software platforms are updated regularly. Don’t log on to public access wi-fi systems to access secure systems such as those you would use on a jobsite. Treat your digital systems with the same security you do your checking account number or your Social Security Number.
E-signatures are more than just moving a pdf or a jpg of your physical “wet ink” scribble onto a document. They’re a secure, digitized record of your approval that, when used properly, cansave you time and money, and actually improve the security and efficiency of your project.