The last mile is defined as the final step of the workflow process which generally involves approval and authorization and is usually implemented at the field level.
Although organizations are increasingly buying into digital transformation programs because of the value they provide, it is at the last mile of digitization that they resort to paper-based signature processes like approvals and authorizations.
As governments become increasingly aware and sensitive to the societal repercussions on the environment, organizations need to consider the ESG proposition for higher value creation and with greater urgency. The three pillars that are the mainstay of ESG are Environmental, Social, and Governance. Environmental refers to the activities of an organization and their resulting impact on the planet. It takes into account the energy that an organization consumes and the waste that it throws out.
Thus, in the current scenario, using digital signature solutions has become all the more significant because of the ESG concept. Companies that are not invested in sustainability with poor environmental practices are now being subject to strict regulations and may encounter damage to their market standing, and loss of customers and revenue.
Paper-based approvals come with multiple challenges mentioned below.
• Storage: Storing paper-based records requires space for storing them securely and as the number of records increases there is a proportional need and cost incurred for their storage. Moreover, there is the extra burden of time and resources required to manually maintain this large volume of paperwork.
With digital signature solutions and last-mile digitization, the challenge of physically storing the documents is eliminated and saves the time and costs involved in maintaining the piles of paper-signed documents.
• Increased carbon footprints: Consider this, the paper and pulp industry accounts for the largest consumption of water in the western world, and around 10 liters of water are required to make a single A4-sized sheet. Around 50% of the waste coming from business organizations is paper. The unethical production of paper is a major environmental pollutant and contributes its share to increased emissions of greenhouse gases. Deforestation is another adverse consequence of irresponsible paper production. Besides, the energy expended on printing, photocopying, and using and replacing ink cartridges with earlier mentioned factors all add up to the carbon footprint of an organization.
Last-mile digitization offers truly paperless workflows that help in a significant reduction in the carbon footprint of any organization.
• Reduced Efficiency: A paper-based process can be clunky, error-prone, and time-consuming as it involves slower administrative processes, the possibility of lost or incomplete documents, or illegibly written paper documents.
Digital signature solutions provide increased speed and efficiency with the elimination of manual paper-based processing steps.
• Lack of Backups and Limited Security: Paper-based documents are at greater risk when it comes to security and backups as in the case of fire or natural disasters where they could be easily damaged or destroyed.
Digitally-signed documents on the other hand could be signed, sent, received, and saved in a secure manner enabled by their in-built security mechanisms offering better protection and improved accessibility for sensitive and confidential documents.
• No clear audit trails and version history: Because of the nature of paper-based signing it is difficult to trace an audit trail and identify who has forged or tampered with the document.
Digitally signed document systems offer the ability to create audit trails with version history and enhanced traceability making it easier to detect fraud. Digitally signed documents also offer enhanced security as the software can easily identify very minute alterations in the signature instantly.
Though last-mile digitization minimizes the inefficiencies of paper-based processes, it presents its own set of challenges.
• Enterprises face the operational challenges of sending the documents out of the ERP environments
• Manually moving documents between the ERP system and the Digital Signature solution and updating signature status in the ERP system leads to inefficiencies and oversight
• Embedding the digital signature solutions within the ERP system is a time and effort-intensive process resulting in delayed digitization initiatives.
RTS being the preferred partner of SAP - the leading ERP solutions provider, and DocuSign - the leading Signature Solutions provider, has developed the RTS Digital Signature accelerator.
The RTS Digital Signature Accelerator provides integration functions to connect SAP with DocuSign Agreement Cloud. It is a tightly coupled SAP add-on tailored to integrate any module of SAP ECC or S/4HANA with the DocuSign Agreement cloud.
The RTS accelerator supports many ERP processes in CRM, Sales, Marketing, Human Resources, and Contract Life-cycle Management.
Many global enterprises across different verticals like Retail, Oil and Gas, Airlines, Healthcare, Transportation, and Manufacturing have implemented the RTS accelerator to support the digitization of business processes.
Users can add the signatories in SAP and use the DocuSign interface within the SAP environment to sign the documents. RTS accelerator automatically uploads the signed documents to DocuSign and sends an email to the next assigned recipient in the workflow. As and when the recipients sign the documents in the DocuSign Agreement cloud, the RTS accelerator synchronizes the documents in real-time. Also, if any recipient rejects the document and does not sign the document then the workflow is terminated, and the document is moved to SAP. When the last recipient in the workflow signs the document, an email is automatically sent to all the recipients in the workflow with a certificate of completion, and their signed documents. Further, all enterprise users/stakeholders can view these signed documents within SAP.
Based on the requirement, the documents also get archived in the content repository
• SAP integration: Seamless access to Digital Signature workflows from within the SAP environment without signing into DocuSign separately
• Workflows: Multiple workflows supported like Bill of Lading, Quotation, Purchase Order Generation, and Invoicing to name a few
• Processes: Authorizations and approvals obtained from collaborators outside the organization’s boundaries while maintaining adequate security
• Reconciliations: Seamless and quick transfer of information from DocuSign envelopes to SAP documents enabling a central source of information
• Compatibility: Compatible with multiple SAP environments from on-prem ECC installations to S/4 HANA cloud environments
• Access: Ubiquitous access to the authorization process anytime and anywhere using the native SAP interface or custom mobile apps.
• Digital Signature Management and Archiving of billing and invoicing documents: An international food conglomerate decided to implement digital signature solutions for their billing and invoicing documents and automatically archive them across all their sales organizations. They wanted to eliminate the use of wet signatures for internal and external (customer) approvals to avoid inefficiencies and non-compliances ensuring an end-to-end digital transformation.
• Improved Efficiency with Paperless delivery: Tracking customer verifications within the SAP system and simplifying store manager’s task of reconciling deliveries.
• Seamless handling of Quotation workflow: Streamlining quotation management with improved traceability and faster reconciliation.
• Simplified Management of Purchasing operations: Simplifying purchase order and requisition process in SAP for increased efficiency and optimized operations.
• Streamlined authorization and approvals of Bill of Lading documents: Simplifying the Bill of Lading workflows by enabling partners to sign documents at anytime from anywhere.
• Seamlessly manage SAP Vistex agreements: Simplifying commercial agreement processes with business partners.
• Seamless management of SAP SD Invoice process: Streamlining and maintaining accuracy in the invoicing process.
• Seamless execution of SAP Supplier Relationship Management (SRM) – RFx workflows within the SAP environment: Simplifying the procurement and response process for faster reconciliations and increased efficiency.
• Streamlined signature management for CRM contracts: Complete visibility of the CRM contract signature process.
• Simplified management of vendor invoice approvals: Increasing productivity of accounting operations.
• Simplify document management in SAP when using DocuSign CLM: Increasing efficiencies while also enhancing customer experience by saving time, reducing hassles, and eliminating manual interventions.
• Making SEPA mandate signature process easier & error-free: Signing Customs Declaration document within the SAP environment and automating movement of documents and customer status making the process efficient and increasing visibility of signature application across the workflow.
• Simplify global trading & shipping document signature process when using SAP, GTS, and DocuSign® with RTS digital signature accelerator: Making the process efficient and increasing the visibility of the signature application across the workflow.