Each year, CERN’s IPT Department sends over 800 contracts, amendments and non-disclosure agreements (NDAs) to be signed by internal and external stakeholders. The process, a long chain of sequential steps, used to take an average of 5 months varying from one week to a year in extreme cases. Previously, the contract was printed into multiple copies and sent to partners for signatures, losing control over its traceability and when the signatures would be obtained. After completing the signature trail, the document arrived back at its origin to be scanned and manually distributed by email to all concerned parties.
Software for signing documents electronically now exists and rapidly decreases the document turnaround time. Documents are processed in a few simple clicks and in some cases returned within hours. It also allows to sign anywhere, at any time and even on mobile devices which can be crucial for professionals who travel frequently.
The originator uploads the document for signature, enters the email addresses of those who need to sign or be informed. It is marked where each individual should sign, sent securely to the email addresses via the application and the signature process starts. The signatories receive an email notification containing a unique link to review and sign the document. They can sign by either uploading an image of their signature, manually draw their signature or select a predefined signature. No account is necessary and there is no charge for using the service. Once the signature loop completes, a PDF copy of the signed document is automatically emailed to all interested parties.
During the last quarter of 2019, CERN trialled such a platform. The IPT Department, jointly with the FAP Department (BC Group), initiated a proof of concept for the electronic signature of contracts, amendments and NDAs. After a successful trial period, the IPT Department has adopted this new approach for signing its documents.
Going electronic has made the signature process much faster and more transparent. We can now get contracts signed within a day! - Thierry Lagrange, Head of the IPT Department.
The technology not only increases efficiency, it also has a positive environmental impact. Based on the current number of documents produced, the IPT Department estimates it will save 8000 tons of CO2, 80 000 litres of water and 120 trees per year by changing to this new method.