Obtaining a physical signature is sometimes required. It could be for legal or compliance requirements, policy positions or simply because one or both parties are more comfortable with signatures in a physical format.
The Adobe Sign Written Signature workflow supports obtaining physical signatures, while ensuring proper access control, maintaining the quality and clarity of the final document, and leveraging the benefits of electronic processing and auditing.
The traditional fax solution has dependencies on each of the individual fax machines involved in the signature process. Every additional signature adds some amount of analog "noise", and the resulting document often has significant fidelity loss.
The new Written workflow allows the Recipient to fill in any field content electronically, including adding additional files, and then print that digitally precise document to sign. The Signer then scans the signed document back into electronic form and uploads the file using the same email link that originally provided the document. By using a scanner or photo of the signed document as the upload file, the quality of the final Agreement is immensely improved.
- The “Written” signature workflow is only available in the new Send experience. Users in the classic Send experience continue to use the “Fax” signature workflow.
- The Fax workflow is not available in the new Send experience.
- The "Written" (digital upload) workflow is scheduled to completely replace the fax workflow when the classic Send page is fully retired in Q4 of 2017.
For Senders, there are no changes to the workflow or document template. The only change is selecting the "Written" option instead of the "Fax Signature" option.
On the plus side, the Written Signature workflow allows expanded options, like:
- Personalized messages to the Recipients for any discrete instructions
- Signer verification
- The ability to pre-fill fields before sending the document for signature
- Replace the current signer
- Modify the agreement after it is sent (but before it is signed)
- The ability to request the first Signer to attach supporting documents
- Reminders are consistent with the e-signature workflow
- Field data reporting for the prefill and first signer form field content
- The ability to require and validate fields for the first signer
- Extended recipient list that can include as many signers as the Electronic workflow
- Full support of all available Recipient types (Approvers, Form Fillers, Acceptors, etc.)
- As a best practice, it is suggested that the sender place themselves (or a designated party) as the last Recipient with an Approver role. This allows a sanity check of the documents that were uploaded.
For Signers, the Written signature workflow more closely resembles the Electronic workflow up to the point that they have to print off the document to apply their signature:
- The Recipient is notified via email with a link to the document.
- The Recipient opens the document electronically, and they are presented first with a 3-step summary of their process:
- The Recipient is able to fill in any form fields that are requested/required
- When ready, the Recipient clicks the Next button to advance to the Download instructions:
- The Recipient clicks the Download button to download the document, complete with their field content.
- A window opens asking the Recipient to either open or save the file
- With the PDF open, Print the PDF pages
- Physically sign the document
- Scan the document back into digital form
- Adobe Sign accepts the file back in any normally accepted format (PDF, JPG, GIF, TIF, BMP).
- Adobe Sign only accepts one file, so if you have multiple images, you need to concatenate them into one file.
- Clicking the link in the original “Please Sign” email opens the interface to Upload the file (or Download it again if needed)
- Clicking the Upload to submit button opens a window for the Signer to browse to the file they want to upload on the local system
- Once the file is uploaded, the Recipient is done, and the Agreement moves to the next signer, or completes the process
When account settings are configured to do so, signers can elect to change their signature from Electronic to Written format.
In the signer’s view, after opening the agreement, there is an Options list at the top-left of the window.
Within this list is the option to Print, sign and upload which converts the signature workflow to Written workflow for all subsequent recipients.
The signer will then be prompted to complete the written signature process described above.
For customers that have the new Send page enabled/embedded into their app, the Written Signature workflow will become the default behavior.
Customers that use the API to retrieve data or Agreement files do not have to change anything about their existing code. The workflow used to have a document signed does not impact how you can access the completed agreement.
Because Prefill and first Signer fields are captured electronically, that field data can be imported if you have data mapping defined.
Customers that continue to use the Classic Send page are still able to use fax-back until Q4 2017, when the Classic Send page (and thus fax-back signatures) will be retired.
Fax-back Agreements, while very successful at obtaining legal signatures, are prone to numerous issues largely due to the nature of the devices involved. Common problems included:
- Poor quality of the final document – Re-faxing a document four times results in a lot of analog “noise” on the document
- Failed transactions – Mistakes are made and people fax in upside down documents every day. Because the document received is blank, Adobe Sign can’t route it to be attached to its related Agreement.
- Poor security – Sending a document to sit on a fax machine isn’t secure, and provides no assurance that the document is delivered to the designated Recipient
- Limitations on numbers of signers – The mechanics used to route the faxed pages to the Agreement are based on QR codes in the corners of the pages. Because there are only four corners to a page, Fax transactions are limited to four signers.
- Prefilling fields – The current fax-back system is designed to simply send a document to the designated party, and does not allow for pre-filling of document fields.
- Data capture – A faxed back document has no fields that the system can read and return to you in the form of reporting, making data collection a much more manual process.
Sending to a fax number is not supported with the Written Signature workflow. Getting distance from the mechanical issues that printing on a fax machine creates is one of the prime benefits of the new solution. By eliminating the fax machine as a source, we can:
- Ensure document quality – By not including the analog noise from the Fax machine itself
- Improve and Log delivery success – Fax Transmittal Reports can’t tell you that a readable copy of the document was delivered, or who it was delivered to
- Improve security – Many fax machines are simply sitting in a public space where anyone can access the content being generated
- Improve signer validation/communication – By leveraging the e-sign processes, Signer validation and private messages can be included in the Agreement workflow, allowing you to explicitly vet and instruct signers through the signature process
For the new Written Signature to be available, your account first must be using the new Send experience.
- Navigate to Account > Account Settings > Send Settings
- Scroll down to Allowed Signature Types
- Check the option to Allow senders to send documents for Written signature
- Click Save to commit the change
If you are using Limited Document Visibility (Account > Account Settings > Global Settings), you need to explicitly enable Written Signature in those settings before the Written option will appear on the Send page.
Any Agreement sent using both Limited Document Visibility and the Written signature workflow will ignore the Document Visibility settings, and will present the entire document for the signer.