About a year ago I wrote a blog post about dumb excuses for using paper documents. In the last 12 months things haven’t changed a lot, although I am happy to see some organizations are moving in the right direction.
The Baltimore Ravens and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers moved their playbooks to Apple iPads last season and more NFL teams announced plans to do the same this year. Some of these playbooks can be 800 pages. Try lugging that much paper around with you wherever you go.
More organizations are thinking of getting rid of paper documents in favor of accessing the information on iPads or other mobile devices. Alaska Airlines and American Airlines replaced their flight manuals with iPads. Other organizations are thinking about doing this too. If pilots are using iPads, then they should be able to sign off on flight readiness electronically rather than using paper and pen. That would speed up flight checks and hopefully get planes on their way faster. Wouldn’t that be nice?
With all this technology, why are most of us still signing documents the old fashioned way? Some of it is inertia, but a lot of it is because we are still using outdated business processes. Signing a piece of paper is easy for the signer, but not for the rest of the process.
Here’s an example illustrating how signing a paper document can cost a lot of money.
A friend of mine needed to change his health insurance. His son recently graduated from college and got a new job that provided great health coverage. He expected to save money by removing his son from the insurance. He called his insurance agent who mailed him some forms to request the change. He filled out the forms, signed them, put them in an envelope and put them in the mail. Fortunately he made copies of the signed forms.
As far as he knew, the insurance agent sent the forms to the insurance company and everything was all set. All of this happened in December 2011. Boy was my friend surprised when he got his new bill and the cost jumped by $400 a month! He expected an annual increase, but not by that much.
He got on the phone with the insurance company and found out that they never received any change request. His son was still on the insurance. He had the signed copies of the forms to prove he requested the change. He called his insurance agent and guess what? The agent forgot to mail the forms. The agent apologized and finally sent them in. Of course my friend still owes for this month, because his son was covered.
If the NFL and pilots are using iPads for business, the insurance company should be using modern ways to process change requests.
The insurance company could do all of this electronically through DocuSign. An agent could email me a link to a form. I click on the link and open the form in a browser. I complete it and sign it with a click of the mouse (or a tap on an iPad). I click submit and the signed form goes to the insurance company automatically. The agent and I get a copy of the signed form in email. The information from the form could go into the insurance company’s policy system and make the change. And best of all, everyone gets a receipt with an audit trail of the transaction. It takes the human element out of it. If there was a question, we can pull up the log of activities.
Now that’s how simple this should be. It saves time and money, and I will know that my insurance company received my change request. It’s also secure, because the signed document has a tamper seal on it to ensure nothing changed in transit.
If you are still signing paper documents, think about how you could speed your business by using electronic signatures. It might save you a few bucks.
Photo credit sure2talk