Electronic signing is familiar territory for most accountancy firms in the Benelux or it is an important item on the agenda. With the electronic signature, accountants and tax specialists can obtain necessary signatures faster than ever, while still meeting strict legal requirements. Such a solution can be used for filing annual accounts as well as getting engagement confirmations, tax returns, HR documents and nondisclosure agreements signed.
Accountants digitally sign their documents with the advanced and qualified signature. During the signing process, electronic data is used to record the name and e-mail address of the signatory as well as the time and date of signature. In addition, a document is sealed when all the necessary signatures have been placed.
As a result, the electronic version also remains unchanged and you obtain the required signatures within a few minutes instead of days or weeks. However, there are a number of other ways to take the security and ease of use of electronic signature to the highest level. In this blog I explain the three most important ways.
From approval to digital signature
As mentioned, the two electronic signatures mentioned above are legally valid and just as secure or in some situations more secure than the wet signature. Nevertheless, there are still accountants who, despite the fact that they already sign digitally, still just need to approve some types of documents. An accountant can first of all eliminate the approval of his or her documents to enhance the security and thereby the ease of use of the electronic signature.
When approving a document, you depend on a log file in a third application for the burden of proof. You are dealing with a so-called vendor lock-in. In this case, a vendor lock-in makes the accountant and his customer dependent on the portal in which the approval is given. This is especially cumbersome for the customer because he or she cannot view the approved document afterwards, independently of this platform.
By having every document to be signed go through your digital signing platform, you can sign every document (or have it signed) on the basis of a low-threshold signature request via email, without having to provide customers with login details. In addition, the signed document is delivered as a PDF with the document of proof and you can have the documents validated independently of the signing platform. This is therefore not only more accessible than approval, it also ensures a safe and legally valid document.
Identification and Authentication
An important part of the electronic signature process is the verification of the identity of the signatories, which takes place prior to signing. When it comes to internal signers, this can of course be arranged quickly and securely, but how do you verify the identity of customers before a signature? An accountant can do this by doing face-to-face identity verification on location, so that at a possible signing moment he or she can rely on only the email address and telephone number of the customer to verify his or her identity. You will therefore have to invite your customers to your office. Especially in a time like this, with the Covid-19 rules and the fact that you have to wear a mask, it is not the most efficient way to verify the identity of your customer. Therefore, the second way to take the security and user-friendliness of electronic signature to the highest level is “verify the identity of your external signers through an additional authentication method”.
An additional authentication method offers you as an accountant the opportunity to verify the identity of customers and other external signatories, based on certain factors. Most accountancy firms use e-mail and SMS authentication, as mentioned earlier, but the extra authentication method that goes just a little deeper is iDIN bank authentication. iDIN bank authentication allows the user to verify the identity of the signers based on his or her bank details.
After receiving a signing request, the customer is asked to log into his or her online bank account, the bank details are checked and immediately after the approval moment, the customer is redirected to the signing platform to digitally sign the documents to be signed. iDIN bank authentication can be integrated with ValidSign’s digital signing platform so that the signer is automatically forwarded from the signing platform to iDIN, without having to perform any additional actions. The verification process is greatly strengthened in this way in a user-friendly way.
We have arrived at the third, and also the last, way to take the security and user-friendliness of electronic signature to the highest level. This method is mainly there to improve user-friendliness, but it certainly provides a bit of extra security within the signing process. By integrating the signing platform with your trusted CRM system, for example, you can load the document, send it out for signature and automatically archive it in the right place in the CRM system. With more than 150 integrations, the ValidSign signing solution can be seamlessly integrated into your trusted application. In this way, documents can be digitally signed, without having to leave the trusted platform. In addition, from that moment on, your organization will always have a compliant file, since the documents are automatically placed back in the right place within the CRM system.
Now that you know how, as an accountant, you can raise the security and ease of use of your electronic signature to the highest level, you can of course start today!
If you would like more information about ValidSign, iDIN bank authentication or an integration, please contact us by email to firstname.lastname@example.org
Signatures on paper or digitally? John Lageman, director of ValidSign, is convinced that the expiration date of the physical signature has expired. It is inefficient at a time when all information is digitally processed and stored. More than 1200 organizations use its ValidSign platform to sign electronically. Safe and trustworthy.
Many organizations digitize their processes, but forget to take the last step, is the experience of John Lageman of ValidSign. “They draw up their contracts digitally, whereby the intermediate steps are often controlled automatically. But where the entire process has been digitized, it often gets stuck at the last step.” The document is printed, signed, scanned and then emailed to the supplier or customer. “The process is far too cumbersome and you turn a digital original into a paper document.”
Besides being impractical, the process of printing the PDF and scanning it after signing is not secure. “A PDF is easy to edit, leaving the original signature of the sender underneath. Without you realizing it, you get another document back, with two signatures, in which the integrity of the agreement has been compromised on a number of crucial parts. ” He warns: “The adjustments will only become apparent if a conflict arises and you fall back on the signed contract.” The message Lageman gives: “Make sure that the digital contract remains digital and is signed electronically.”
ValidSign is specialized in the complete management of the signing process. Electronic signing takes place with certificate technology, where the sender/contractor adds the various internal and external signers to the contract. You can do this visible or invisible, with certificate technology. “It doesn’t matter whether one or twenty signatures are needed. The sender, the contract drafter, determines who can sign.” Checking the identity is an important additional assurance that the signatory is also the person you assume. He continues: “If you also make sure that the agreement complies with the open standards, you can archive the document digitally and open it in ten or fifty years.”
Identification, authentication and authorization are often used interchangeably, explains John Lageman. “When you identify yourself, it’s about who you are. Authentication is about checking whether you are really who you say you are. And then you can perform an authorization check. In doing so, you look at the authority from your role or position to act. What we use are the authentication methods to verify that the person on the other end is who he or she claims to be.” When signing, ValidSign assumes that identification has already taken place. “We check whether that is actually true, by means of authentication.”
ValidSign uses various secure means of identification, of which SMS, DigiD, eHerkenning and iDin are the most important. “We include that as part of the transaction.” For certain professional groups, authentication and control are extra important. For example, in the annual accounts and auditor’s report. “Those documents have to refer to eachother. We provide an electronic signature that we are sure has been signed by an accountant. We do this by using a so called professional certificate.”
ValidSign is a provider that ensures that the consensus between two or more parties is recorded. “We ensure that the document is honest and that the identity of the signatories is established. We facilitate transactions.” He mentions the Ymere housing association as an example, where the signing of leases is done with ValidSign. The landlord and tenant can easily sign and the contract is digitally signed and archived.
In a previous position, Lageman was involved in the modernization of the municipal database, the idea being that municipalities can convert the personal data with one click when moving house. “In fact, you don’t even have to, you have an administration for everyone.” It inspires him to dream of an electronic passport with which you can identify yourself and share personal data, so that you no longer have to create a profile at webshops and other organizations. “I actually do not want organizations to store my personal data. I would much rather give them the opportunity to use some of my personal data, such as the address details, without them being saved.”
Digital signing offers a double guarantee: you establish the identity of the signer and ensure the document integrity.
Lageman monitors the integrity of Validsign’s role as process monitor. He is an outspoken opponent of commercial parties also wanting to play a role as ‘trust partner’. “ValidSign is there to facilitate the transaction. Not for commercializing the data. Contracts that are completed will be removed from our environment after 90 days. “I don’t want anything to do with the content of the transaction. Ownership of this belongs to the customer himself.”
“We are there at the time of the transaction process. We facilitate with everything there is to complete the transaction properly and then we let it go. We provide an unambiguous way of signing or sealing information. We want to play a leading role in that. ValidSign is there at the time of the signing process, during the establishment and completion of the transaction, and no more after that. We place the burden of proof on the owner of the transaction.”
As a sales professional, you live for the thrill of making a deal. Especially when it comes to a special customer. That big one or just that prospect from that totally new market, that makes your heart jump. But what if you can’t visit in personor when the signing process, of the contract mailing, the customer reading it, having it printed, signed with one or more signatories, scanning and sending it back again takes too long?
As a sales professional, you know better than anyone that the speed and efficiency of the signing process can determine the signed return of the quote. Our own Senior Account Manager Gertjan van Ek will give you 5 tips to get a proposal signed back (faster)
Tip 1: Digital signing
Assuming you’ve spoken to the right people and sent the quote to the main decision makers, switching to digital signing is a must when it comes to getting contracts and quotes signed back quickly. The easier you make it for the signer, the more likely it is that that person will sign his or her signature. The relevant signer receives a request via email to sign digitally. This way, the signer can sign the quote anytime and anywhere. All you need is an internet connection and access to your e-mail
Tip 2: Set a tight deadline
Without sounding intrusive, setting a tight deadline is an important factor in the signing process. Make sure you’re on the same page with the prospect. Make clear agreements about the further progress of the sales process and agree:
When you expect to have the signed contract back;
That you are always available for further questions;
That you will proactively contact your prospect when you’re nearing the deadline.
ValidSign’s digital signature makes it easy to create a reminder scheme. For example, you can plan a reminder 3 days after sending, 2 days before the end of the deadline and again on the last day. This way, you approach your prospect proactively and it’ll prevent you from being late or completely forgetting to get in touch. On the day of the deadline, I usually call the signer. Perhaps the deadline was unrealistic or maybe there are still doubts within the organization. With a personal conversation, you can fix that.
Tip 3: Deliver all the necessary documents at once
As has already been stated, it is important to keep the signing process as fast and simple as possible for prospects. Sending quotes by post is no longer an option.
Fortunately, many organizations work digitally so you are no longer dependent on the pace of a postal company. For example, if you send your quotes by email, make sure that all the necessary documents are in one email without the need to send separate documents. This way you eliminate the number of actions that the prospect must take in order to finally sign the quote.
Sending your quote by mail is not the most efficient solution. You still ask your prospect to print, scan and manually return the documents. The digital signature eliminates these steps. The prospect only needs to open and sign the sign request using a graphic signature or click signature. In addition to documents to be signed, other documents can also be sent as an attachment. So the prospect has everything he or she needs to sign the offer.
Tip 4: Identify people who have signing authority
Even when both parties strive to meet the agreements made, something can happen that causes you to not receive a signature in return. Think, for example, of the scenario where the signer is temporarily unable to work due to illness or other private circumstances and no signed quote returns. The wet signature does not allow another person to sign the same document. You will have to draw up a new quote addressed to the new signatory. The digital signature eliminates these time-consuming actions through the permission functionality. Empower someone to sign a document addressed to you? Yes, that’s possible! By selecting the permission functionality while creating the transaction, you give the recipient the ability to forward the signing to another character within the organization. The identity of the authorised signatory is recorded using his or her email address and a two-factor or more factorauthentication including SMS, iDIN or DigiD authentication. This ensures that only the authorized person can view the document and sign it.
If you yourself or another authorised signer within your organization is not able to sign a contract or offer, it is also possible to authorize your own colleagues to sign for you.
Tip 5: Timing
Finally, timing plays a crucial role in the sales process. The combination of being flexible, communicating and signing makes it easier for the customer to agree to the assignment. However, this is often overlooked.
During the first conversations with a prospect, I try to find out what important actions and events are planned that concern them at this time and in the next quarter in order to determine the right timing.
Consider the following factors:
Industry related events
Industry related news
Keeping the contact between you and the prospect warm after you send the assignment is also important. It can be as simple as knowing that there is a busy period approaching for a prospect and contacting the question of how you can help to reduce their workload.
In addition, it helps to build trust. Providing a listening ear or providing additional information at the right time can be the difference between a lost deal and closed won.
Now that you know how to ensure the speed and efficiency of the signing process, you’ll get those deals signed back and your business won’t stand still!
Our digital signing solution is always in development and this time it was the the turn of SharePoint Online connector. Until recently, the connector was still fairly basic; The signing process could start and end in Sharepoint Online, and contracts could already be automatically archived in the right location. These functionalities already made for a considerable efficiency boost for the organizations that use the link. Some of the functionalities that the stand-alone ValidSign solution has had for some time were not yet available in the Sharepoint link. These include supporting Text tags and using templates. Until now.
The ValidSign- Sharepoint link has been further expanded so that users can sign digitally more pleasantly and efficiently. Here are the latest features:
ValidSign text tags support;
Support for using templates;
Support multiple external authentication methodology such as iDIN and qualified sign
With text tag support, you can easily use templates. So you don’t have to rede decide where to sign every time. When you add or delete a new paragraph in a document, that tag simply goes along with it. The text tag is simply a typed piece of code that recognizes the sign solution and sees that a signature of, for example, the first signer has to be put there. That in combination with the new function to use templates will greatly speed up the drafting of contracts and agreements.
In addition, new external authentication methods have been added. You can now choose iDIN as an authentication method. Also, it is possible to sign qualified. The qualified digital signature is an electronic signature with a qualified certificate, a so-called Public Key Infrastructure (PKI) government certificate. A signatory must have a qualified certificate that verifies his or her signature identity and authenticity through a trusted server on the EU Trusted List (ETL). This requires face-to-face identification to receive a certificate. This form of electronic signing is only necessary for persons who have to sign documents with a heavy burden of proof. Think accountants, lawyers, mayors and doctors. You can request these hardware certificates (where you need a hardware key) and digital cloud certificates through ValidSign. More information about the PKIo certification can be found here.
Do you have any questions about the new features of the SharePoint connector? Please contact Support@ValidSign.nl.
Digital meetings in the government sector? Then chances are you’re using iBabs. The digital meeting platform makes it easier to prepare meetings, make them more efficient and make concrete appointments. This makes iBabs not only pleasant for board members and the city council, but also for the registry. Discover ValidSign’s renewed iBabs integration.
Decide the location of the signature yourself.
This seamless integration ensures that the last, and equally important, step of the meeting process is completed safely and smoothly. The revamped iBabs integration with ValidSign offers many new functionalities in the familiar way of signing. From now on, it is possible to determine the location of the signature in the document itself. So if you wish to place the signature under the greeting “with kind regards” it’s possible, but it may also be that you would prefer to have it in the upper right corner of the council decision. This way you have full control. Would you rather let the application automatically determine the location of the signature? Great! In this case, the signer only has to give an approval instead of signing.
You choose which form of the digital signature is used. The integration supports both the graphic signature and the click signature. So there are multiple possibilities to digitally sign your decision or agreement.
Decisions can be signed within minutes, the status is always clear and a decision or agreement is automatically archived in the right place in iBabs.
Want to know more about the iBabs link integrated with ValidSign or can’t wait to use it? Contact us soon!
The VALIDSign AFAS connector is now available! Since March this year, customers can digitally sign from AFAS with ValidSign. The link allows users to submit documents for signing in AFAS. Any process that requires signing can be monitored from A to Z in the system. Immediately after digital signing, the document is archived in the correct location in AFAS. In addition to improvements to the look and feel of the connector, this release includes new functionalities such as setting up the sender email and includes a reminder schedule. This seamless integration shortens lead time and provides a better understanding of the signing process.
The new functionalities in a row:
Reminder Schedule Schedule to send reminders in advance so signatures won’t delay your process. The user can specify which reminder schedule should be used per sign request.
Personal sending from AFAS The sender of the transaction from AFAS can monitor the transaction in his/her own ValidSign mailbox. While the sign requests are currently still sent and managed from a general email address, this update allows you to choose a personal shipping.
Automatic removal of the ValidSign environment Once the documents are fully signed, they are automatically returned to AFAS, including proof document. These documents will be automatically removed from the ValidSign environment after the update. Of course, it is possible to keep the documents available for some time in the ValidSign environment so that the external signers can download and archive the documents. The default retention time is 14 days. This only applies to signed documents.
Gebruikt jouw organisatie AFAS maar hebben jullie nog geen oplossing voor digitaal ondertekenen? Neem dan snel contact op, we laten je graag zien hoe ValidSign werkt.
GRATIS WEBINAR OP 17 NOVEMBER
Op dinsdag 17 november geven we van 10 tot half 11 een webinar over de nieuwe Afas connector. Meld je aan en zorg dat je erbij bent! Aanmelden webinar