Best Practices for Implementing eSignatures in Construction Companies

The concept of electronic signatures is almost two centuries old, but only in the age of the internet, cloud-based platforms, and blockchain can it live up to its full potential. This method is so convenient and widely applicable that it can transform many industries. It is faster, saves money, and represents an eco-friendly alternative to its wet ink counterpart.

With all of this in mind, here are some of the best practices for implementing eSignatures in the construction industry.

1. Understand how it fits your industry

The rest of this article will mostly discuss how these eSignatures affect their users and businesses in general, but the use of eSignatures in the construction industry is different from that in healthcare or finance.

You need to find the system that will fit your niche the best. 

First of all, the construction industry is incredibly paperwork-heavy. Due to the many regulations, rules, permits, and inspections, you have to sign many papers for anything to be done. Moreover, it applies to so many parties, from architects and appraisers to foremen. 

Another big reason why eSignatures are so big in construction is because there’s a lot of back and forth between the headquarters and field teams. This causes a lot of delays since you send a document to the headquarters and wait for someone to sign it there for them to return it before you can carry on with the work on the site. 

Delays are the bane of the construction industry, and if eSignatures can cut the waiting time, it will be a huge plus. Other than this, they’re also eco-friendly (which is huge in an industry that’s already a big polluter). Lastly, it’s more convenient, and it saves money.

Overall, it’s one of the ways to modernize your business operations

2. Pick the best eSignature solution

The concept of eSignature goes beyond just being an electronic signature. You need something that integrates with other systems, is compliant with relevant regulations, and provides sufficient cybersecurity protection. 

Integrations are especially important for the way you’ll use these documents later on. For instance, finding a Dropbox sign for Procore can drastically facilitate your business process. Now, you can electronically sign a document and send it back without undergoing much trouble. 

In terms of legality, an electronic signature can be just as legally binding as wet ink. However, it needs to be compliant with regulations like eIDAS, UETA, etc. Without it, the signature itself doesn’t hold much value. 

This last part is particularly important, considering that security is the biggest argument for those who are still opposed to greater reliance on eSignatures.

No matter what direction you choose to take with further implementation, choosing the solution is a mandatory first step.

3. Insist on verifying signer identity

There’s more effort put into verifying eSignatures than you think. A lot of online services offer signer ID verification as a form of a standard feature. This usually requires a signer to offer their government-issued ID, as well as a photo of themselves (sometimes in a pose or holding a paper with a word) used to prove that they’re a real person.

With the help of these safeguards, you can really make a difference in the level of security involved.

Then again, you can always insist on a person’s verification. Just think about working in the office space. A signed document won’t just magically appear on your desk. A coworker will approach you with a signed document and tell you that they’ve signed it.

Even if you’re not at the desk, they’ll leave a note in the folder or tell someone sitting nearby that they came, signed, and left. 

So, if that’s how things are done in the real world, why not just ask the person to send you an email or an instant message when they’ve signed it? This is a really rudimentary form of protection, but it’s quite reliable.

4. Keep signature records

The best thing about eSignatures is that keeping records is automated and digitized. This means that every time someone signs something, this leaves a digital footprint. It means that you don’t have to go out of your way to track their signatures. 

Also, since this will be kept in the format of an electronic document, you don’t have to worry too much about keeping them indefinitely. Documents themselves are relatively small compared to the amount of cloud-based storage that you can get. However, these logs are even smaller than documents.

Moreover, the fact that you’re keeping them in a digital format means one of a few things. First, you don’t have to worry about losing or misplacing them. This is a huge problem, and 7.5% of all documents kept in physical form are eventually misplaced or lost. The problem is that you don’t even realize this until you try to find the documents in question.

Here, you can just keep it all safely (and indefinitely) without the need to ever delete them. 

5. Ensure safe storage

Last time, we touched on the issue of document storage, but this is important from another perspective. 

In a conventional setting, to endanger the integrity of your wet signatures, one would have to be able to physically steal the document. This would require breaking into the venue where the document is kept and stealing it or tampering with it. 

In a digital world, this incursion would look a bit different. Different hazards require different protective measures. So, you need to make sure that wherever you keep these documents, they’re kept safe.

Another thing you need to keep in mind is that data damage or theft can happen at any stage. So, you want to keep it safe in transit and in storage.

It’s also important to understand that you are probably not the only person who has access to these files. Make sure that everyone gets access the right way, as well as that you vet people who have access. 

Wrap up

The bottom line is that you need to understand why you’re using eSignatures and find the best provider. More importantly, you need to understand that this is just a part of the process. This process doesn’t start or end with the signature. You need to have a whole system of accountability checks in place. Fortunately, this is not as hard to set up as you think.