Paperless construction sites.
STRABAG uses Adobe Acrobat Sign to support its digital workplace.
Employees: ~74,000 (2021)
Eliminated printing of 500+ page contracts
Adobe Acrobat Sign ›
Eliminate stacks of contract copies and sign contracts directly at the construction site
Achieve shorter turnaround times for signature processes where contracts cannot be signed in person
Minimize the time and resources required to prepare contracts
Ensure full legal certainty without compromising on security
Signs electronically on a touchscreen and then sent digitally
Collects signatures in a very short amount of time via email
Sends PDFs securely, removing the need to print up to 500 pages per document
Achieves highest-level compliance through advanced multi-factor authentication (2FA) and an automated audit trail
Ditching the paper for faster construction
Neither high-rise buildings nor tunnels can be built from paper but without it, construction projects cannot move forward. In the past, before STRABAG purchasing teams reached an agreement with subcontractors, they had to exchange stacks of paper contract documents at the construction site itself, where it is customary to hold negotiations.
As there is a lot to clarify in complex projects, document sets often contain up to 500 pages. “When we used to print and sign everything on paper, all parties had to bring mountains of copies to the office. It wasn’t uncommon to recycle them after they were scanned and archived. This has finally come to an end with the use of e-signatures,” recalls Torsten Pardun, Purchaser, Construction Engineering Services at STRABAG’s subsidiary ZÜBLIN (Direktion Nord).
With the increased use of mobile devices on construction sites, STRABAG decided to update its document processes. STRABAG’s ambition was to implement a user-friendly system that enables agreements to be digitally recorded and signed on the spot using a compact touchscreen — with legally binding effect.
“One of the decisive criteria for awarding the contract was the fact that Acrobat Sign is also available as a mobile app and offers the highest level of security for electronic signatures.”
Innovation & Digitalisation / Application Services & Data Sciences, STRABAG
The IT team found the right solution with Acrobat Sign. “One of the decisive criteria for awarding the contract was the fact that Acrobat Sign is also available as a mobile app and offers the highest level of security for electronic signatures,” explains Martin Pöppelmann, who is responsible for digital workplace matters at STRABAG and manages the rollout of Adobe Acrobat Sign.
A cornerstone of paperless communication
After a successful pilot project of Acrobat Sign involving 80 employees across the company, Acrobat Sign went live across the company worldwide.
In a short period of time, STRABAG completely digitalized large parts of its signature processes with Acrobat Sign. In addition to the contract negotiation process, Acrobat Sign is used for a variety of approvals, quotes, invoices, and contracts.
“For us, Acrobat Sign has become one of the most important cornerstones of paperless communication,” explains Pardun. “Thanks to Acrobat Sign, I simply go to the construction site with my iPad, have the contract signed on-site, and voila
— I immediately have a digital version that I can easily send to all parties involved.”
Acrobat Sign has also proven to be a driver of greater remote cooperation. “A lot of what previously required meetings at constructions site or mailing due to our partners’ preferences is now done by email using an e-signature process,” explains Pardun. This is particularly practical for long distances when purchasers are located in Hamburg, builders in Cologne, and the construction site is in Jena — not to mention international projects.
The amount of traveling is therefore reduced but the watertight legal certainty that is particularly important for construction projects worth millions remains guaranteed. For agreements with external authorized signatories, Acrobat Sign enables STRABAG to achieve the required level of security with two-factor authentication.
The added value of Acrobat Sign for STRABAG is clear. In particular, the reduction in time and personnel costs compared to the previous paper-based process is considerable. It is no longer necessary to scan, copy, and send hundreds of pages of documents, saving two to three hours per task. And that’s not all: “There is no need to initialize each page — up to 500 of them — by hand because when you send a protected PDF file, it is clear which pages are part of the contract. This alone saves us a good half a day’s worth of work for each document set,” explains Pardun.
Acrobat Sign also eliminates the time-consuming task of mailing documents. The result: In one month, approximately 17,000 signature processes were completed quickly using Acrobat Sign, even though up to seven signatures were required in some cases. “Thanks to Acrobat Sign, I sometimes receive the response from the subcontractor just 20 seconds after sending the email — this used to take several days,” says Pardun.
“For us, Acrobat Sign has become one of the most important cornerstones of paperless communication.”
Acquisition North-Germany, ZÜBLIN
STRABAG also recognizes the benefits in terms of legal certainty. “For us, it is essential to be able to prove in court that all parties involved received a copy of the contract. With the Audit Report features of Acrobat Sign, we automatically receive an audit of who has received and signed what — and when. This means that we are on the safe side in the event of a problem,” notes Pardun.
The digital transformation has also had a positive impact on STRABAG’s reputation. “Thanks to the use of electronic signatures with Acrobat Sign, we are perceived as a very technologically advanced company. Subcontractors are delighted when they don’t have to take heaps of paper back with them after negotiations,” reports Pardun. In terms of sustainability, saving resources is also an important aspect for STRABAG. “We also consider this from an environmental perspective. Tools such as Acrobat Sign enable us to act in a much more environmentally friendly manner.”
The successful implementation of the solution is topped off by positive feedback on the user experience from STRABAG employees. “Acrobat Sign is very intuitive to use and requires relatively little support. This is the best feedback that you can get,” summarizes Pöppelmann.
App for the next expansion phase
The next expansion phase has already been identified. STRABAG plans to anchor the e-signature solution even more deeply within their existing software landscape. The IT team is currently testing the integration of Acrobat Sign in selected third-party systems. The aim is to trigger signature processes directly from Microsoft applications, for example. Because at the digital construction site, less is more when it comes to the number of clicks.
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