August 04, 2022

New digital signatures initiative will save time, paper

A new digital signatures initiative being rolled out throughout campus will make the work lives of faculty and staff easier, expedite required approvals and reduce the amount of paper used by the university.

Throughout campus, faculty and staff have asked for more automated workflows and electronic signature solutions to reduce the burdens from manual and paper-based processes, said Wil Clark, interim chief information officer. And employees have said they wanted the university to use less paper in the interest of environmental sustainability.

To that end, the university as a whole is adopting digital signatures via the Adobe Acrobat Pro DC-Acrobat Sign program, which is different from the Entrust program currently in use. All units are being encouraged to purchase the appropriate licensing as soon as possible. Units can request the software through the IT Help portal, From the Home tab click on Requests and then Software Request under the Catalog Browser.

The digital signatures program allows users to send documents and obtain multiple signatures in one step. The user will sign online through a web browser, and the workflow takes care of sending the document on to the next signer or its intended destination. For current users of Entrust, this will eventually mean no more typing your password every time you need to sign something, saving documents and emailing them.

The reduced use of paper ties in well with Imagine 2030, whose pillars include sustainability, Clark said, and Acrobat Sign will greatly improve efficiency.

Training will be provided via Microsoft Teams, starting this week with the provost’s area and progressing to other units. In this first phase, administrative assistants who process a number of forms through the Office of the Chancellor will be included.

Clark said early results are promising.

“For a recent IT purchase request, we had signed documents completed in 3 hours that historically has taken two or three business days,” he said. “I think that is a testament to the impact this can have. Some part of this is because the automated process and electronic signatures allow our colleagues to review and sign documents while they are on the go, between meetings or standing in line for a coffee.”

The university continues to seek ways to use technology to improve efficiency and sustainability, Clark said. Over the next several months, the university will examine other business processes such as timekeeping.