UK Government Entity Votes for Digital Signatures to Accelerate Procurement Processes

A UK government entity shares how it is making life easier for the citizens and businesses transacting with it by digitising it's internal processes.

The “Customer Spotlight” blog series shines a light on DocuSign customers who are benefiting from accelerating their business processes with digital signatures.

We sat down with a regional government entity to learn how it’s making life easier for the citizens and businesses transacting with it by digitising governmental processes.

Can you firstly tell us a bit about your role?

My responsibility is to do two things in particular. Firstly, we’re analysing the way our IT is structured; the services we provide; the networks we have; how government departments talk to each other; how we interface with citizens; how we interface with government departments and with businesses. We’re looking at ways of improving these.

As you look to improve your IT services, how do digital signatures fit into this plan?

We have different needs for the use of digital signatures. We require them on the documents that are completed online by citizens. Citizens are currently required to produce the identity cards we have as proof of the fact that they are locally registered. We don’t want government departments having to deal with contracts being submitted in paper form. We’re moving away from wet signatures and we also want whatever terms and conditions are agreed with the government, from a procurement perspective, to have legal weight behind the acceptance of offer, whether it’s for services or suppliers and so on.

We’re also facing the challenge that when people from a corporate entity want to transact with the government and they’re based outside of the region, they may not be able to be here in person and they may not have a locally registered ID card. We need to know that the person is who we think they are.

We’ve done a ground up approach to these subjects. We’re having them independently assessed as well, as we want to know how well we fair with our concept, how we can improve it, and how we compete with other jurisdictions. It is an ambitious programme, but we feel it is totally achievable and we’ve started to kick off the process with eProcurement and we’re combining that with digital signatures.

Can you describe the process you had in place before implementing digital signatures?

Unfortunately, we didn’t have a system that worked to our satisfaction. We had a system that required the use of ID cards and card readers. We found that to be rather cumbersome. We also found that the technology would only enable the use of the platform if you were using certain web browsers. It didn’t have the flexibility to use it with other means. That didn’t work well, and the only other fall-back position was the use of a paper systems with wet signatures, which is something we’re trying to move away from.

So, how did you first come across DocuSign’s solution?

We have a central government IT office. They have been lobbying the government, saying it would be in our interest to move over to digital signatures for a while. They came up with a number of companies that offer this, and we looked at what these companies offered.

We wanted to ensure that not only could we use the software to acquire signatures digitally, but we wanted software that was dynamic enough to allow us to have the same experience whether your sat in front of your computer screen or whether you’re working from a mobile device. That meant there was a short list of companies that could provide this to a level that we wanted and, ultimately, we chose DocuSign as the preferred option.

We’re excited that through DocuSign, we can go from what is now a paper system to a totally paperless system. That is one of our main objectives for the project. The idea being that we can continue to roll out the use of digital signatures right cross the government, so we can achieve that goal, which is to be fully paperless in 18 months to two years.

In the run up to partnering with DocuSign, did you run any ROI analysis for what digital signatures could provide?

Yes, we covered it for a number of government departments. The fact we can go digital means we can replace our paper systems, which have a cost, and the time it takes for the people involved in the process.

We’re hoping that the government, not just with digital signatures, but everything else that we’re linking the digital signatures to, can redeploy resources and work with live information, as opposed to what we have at the moment. We are moving towards an integrated solution so there are going to be direct and indirect savings, which is something the government has considered and is now investing in.

You mention that you’re integrating digital signatures with applications you already use. Can you tell us what the plan is there?

One of the exciting things we’re doing is partnering with Proactis, the company that provided our eProcurement solution, and integrating DocuSign with their software to provide an end-to-end solution. This is the first integration, but because there are other areas we’re looking to digitise, there’ll be other partners coming on as well.

As eProcurement appears to be the first use case, is there a plan to expand beyond this?

Very much so. We’re aiming to create an eCitizen programme, which means citizens will be able to transact with the government without the need for paper. They’ll be able to log into their online profiles and do all sorts of things that currently can’t be done digitally with the government, such as browse their status, can change their address, apply for jobs, or pay bills.

We also intend to do a similar thing with businesses. We want a system that, again, will allow businesses to transact digitally with the government so they can apply and have a one stop shop for applications, register people, and apply for work permits if required.

And then there’s the way the government entities transact between themselves. We’d like to process payments and authorise all sorts of transactions. All of this is part of the concept to ensure we handle these transactions digitally, with the security of a system that will enable us to rely on the legal effect of the transaction. That’s part of the plan that we’re starting to roll out.

Do you have any advice for other departments or governmental organisations that are looking to go digital and deploy a solution like DocuSign?

I think the most important thing is to you have a vision and be serious about the implementation process. Consider the changes in the culture, changes in the way that you are perceived, and changes in the way you do business. Ultimately, by going digital, you’ll experience the savings and the all the plusses that digital brings, such as the user-friendliness, being able to work remotely, or not having to leave your home or business to transact. If you want to achieve all of that, give thought to the whole process.

The best thing to do is to partner with a company that you know you can rely on, that you can work with, that will be able to provide useful advice to achieve those big gains. You need to partner with people who have the experience, the know-how, that will be there for you throughout the process, and whose software will continue to evolve.

It’s a big picture story. If you aim low, your success rate will be low. I think if you aim high and you partner well, you’ll achieve your goals and objectives.

Interested in learning more about how digital signatures can speed up your processes? Contact us to learn how.