March 14, 2018

Incorporating digital signatures into Business Process Applications

Electronic Signatures, or eSignatures, are increasingly being adopted by businesses worldwide in an effort to reduce their carbon footprint, streamline business processes, improve security and record-keeping and reduce costs. eSignatures are recognised under Australian law as legally equivalent to a wet signature, and can be used to sign almost any document 1.

What exactly is an eSignature?

A simple definition is that it is a signature used on an electronic document or transmission which is recognised legally has having the same effect as a handwritten signature. Importantly the eSignature must identify the person who is signing the document and indicate that they approve of the content of the electronic document signed 2.

The most obvious benefit of using eSignatures is that there is no need to print a document out, add a wet signature, scan and return the signed document. This of course saves time, money and paper. There are other benefits, such as compliance, auditing, tracking and security that eSignatures offer. eSignatures can be used in any business scenario where one or more signatures are required on a document. Some typical use cases include 3:

  • HR documents such as employment contracts and employee onboarding
  • Commercial agreements, such as non-disclosure agreements and sales agreements
  • Real estate documents such as lease agreements and purchase and sales contracts

eSignatures are a natural fit for many K2 applications, such as an employee onboarding process. How good would it be to manage your onboarding with a K2 workflow that generates an employment contract document, sends it to your new recruit for electronic signature, waits until it is signed, and then notifies you and carries on with the rest of the process (e.g. creating IT accounts, etc)?

So how can you start using eSignatures in your business with K2?

Firstly, you will need to select an eSignature provider and create an account. Two of the leading Electronic Signature technologies in the market are DocuSign and Adobe Sign, but a quick google search will reveal many others to choose from. Each of the providers offers different features, but at their core, they all offer the ability for you to send documents to one or more recipients, have them electronically sign the documents, and then have that signed document returned to you. Most providers will automatically archive the signed documents so you can retrieve them later, and provide you with audit trails so you can see what has happened to your document. Some other features to look for are the ability to embed documents in your own web forms (e.g. K2 smartforms) for signing.

Once you have selected a provider, you will need to integrate it with K2. This can be as simple as turning on a feature in K2 Management (e.g. DocuSign) or it might involve some more complex work integrating with the providers API (look for more info on how to do this in a later blog).

So, you have chosen a provider, and integrated with K2, how can you now incorporate eSignatures into your K2 solutions?

The basic process for obtaining eSignatures for document/s is:

  1. Select one or more documents to sign. These documents can come from your Document Management System, local file system or the cloud
  2. Select one or more recipients to sign the document/s
  3. Send the document/s to be signed
  4. Wait for the document/s to be signed
  5. Receive and store the signed document
  6. Continue with your business process

Using K2 workflows, SmartObjects and SmartForms you can build solutions that incorporate this document signing process in conjunction with your business process, such as employee onboarding.

Let’s have a look at a couple of simple demos using DocuSign.

The first demo will allow you to select a document, enter one or more recipients, and then send the document out for signing. Signers will get an email with a link to sign the document. The link will open the document for signing using the DocuSign website. Once the document is signed by all recipients an email will be sent to the originator with the signed document.




The second demo will show how the recipients can be allocated a task from a K2 workflow, rather than sent an email by the eSignature provider, and directed to a K2 smartform to sign the document (by embedding the document in the form) and complete the task.


eSignatures and K2 offer the opportunity to make your business processes faster, compliant and more seamless for your end users – not to mention reducing the amount of paper you use! Give some thought to how you could use eSignatures and K2 to improve your business processes.

Andrew Blinco – Technical Evangelist, K2

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