"Getting a signature has never been easier." That's the Adobe EchoSign promotional claim for its electronic signature solution. Unlike some promotional claims though, this claim is one that rings true.
In fact, staff at the California Community Colleges Technology Center and California Virtual Campus report that using EchoSign for signature gathering is not only easier but also amounts to significant time and cost savings.
The CCC Technology Center and California Virtual Campus are both headquartered near Oroville, about 80 miles north of Sacramento. The two organizations receive grant funding from the CCC Chancellor's Office and are charged with working on statewide CCC technology projects, which require a multitude of contracts, technical services agreements and intricate memorandums--all of which require multiple signatures, usually from officials and contractors that may be in distant physical locations.
Bruce Racheter, Fiscal and Contract Manager for the California Virtual Campus, said that his office has been using EchoSign to gather electronic signatures since February of 2010. Initially, the signature system was used only internally, mostly for invoicing.
Recently, though, a project required that the California Virtual Campus and CCC Technology Center reach out to more than 60 colleges statewide in an effort to gain signatures on a Memorandum of Understanding related to Internet service provision.
Racheter said that the traditional signature-on-paper method of distributing and retrieving a basic Memorandum of Understanding typically took about three weeks. "But with EchoSign, our average distribute-and-retrieve time was less than a day, with many responses coming in in less than four hours."
"We even had one document signed, returned and completed in about 45 minutes," he said. "That's a record time for this office."
Reducing signatory turnaround time from weeks to days or even to hours, even when the signers are at far-flung districts throughout the state, is significant enough when it applies to a small set of important documents. But it is truly transformative when you consider that, combined, the CVC and the CCC Technology Center processed more than 11,000 documents requiring signatures in the 2010-2011 fiscal year.
"There is no way to discount the tremendous savings electronic signatures bring to our office in terms of time and cost," said Cindy McCartney, Fiscal and Contract Manager for the CCC Technology Center. "At a minimum, we see our turnaround time reduced to 25-50 percent of the time it took with the traditional paper and mail process."
McCartney said use of paper is significantly reduced as envelopes and other paper products necessary for mailing are not used, and planes and trucks don't burn gas during transport.
No postage and handling also amounts to significant cost savings, as do EchoSign's built-in usage logs and reminder system. "Rather than walking around campus or constantly calling people on the phone to track document signing, we are able to set email reminders within the system and monitor logs that tell us exactly where the document is in the process. The tracking features alone ease the process and free us up to take care of other business."
EchoSign is entirely Web-based. It does not require significant software or hardware and it doesn't require an IT department. In fact, as soon as payment is recieved the customer recieves a login for the system and can begin collecting electronic signatures immediately.
Pricing averages about $20 per month for each adminstrator account, which allows collection of unlimited signatures and, for most agreements, an unlimited secure document archive. Contracts with EchoSign are available on a month-to-month basis and can be cancelled anytime.
EchoSign also meets California and federal legal requirements, as defined in the California Civil Code from Sections 1633.1 to Section 1633.17 and the Uniform Electronic Transactions Act.
EchoSign was acquired by Adobe in mid-July. Since the acquisition, CCC Technology Center and California Virtual Campus staff have noticed some slight differences but no substantive changes, although it is noted that helpdesk response time is noticeably quicker.<>
Sandoval Chagoya is the TechEDge Managing Editor and a Project Manager for the
California Community Colleges Technology Center and the California Virtual Campus.