Introducing new technology is not sufficient on its own. The addition of electronic signatures is an opportunity to optimize signature processes at ZDF Enterprises GmbH in general. “As a rule, at least six people are involved in every signature process: four of these are on the side of ZDF Enterprises GmbH, and two to four are on the side of the license holder or licensor,” explains Zsebök. “If we were to follow an analog signature process, all parties would sign one after the other. If external sales agents are also involved, the signature process may take several weeks.”
Because all parties can access the same document when applying their electronic signature using Adobe Sign, it is not necessary to forward a file to the next person in order for them to sign. “On average, it currently takes just a few days for us to execute a contract using Adobe Sign — in some cases, it’s a matter of hours,” says Zsebök. “Once the processes become routine and the partners have adjusted to the new procedure, I estimate that we will be processing the majority of contracts within a few hours.”
The central aim of Zsebök is to include all employees when establishing new tools and not to abandon them when it comes to using them. “Our Digital Innovation Department closely monitored the introduction of electronic signatures from the outset,” explains Zsebök. Among other things, they have employed a digital learning manager who not only trains employees on using Adobe Sign, but has also recorded training videos about the digital tools used, which can be accessed by their colleagues if they have any questions. It is also crucial to remain flexible.
“At the beginning, I thought we might need just ten licenses,” says Zsebök. “I rarely underestimate something on such a large scale! Ultimately, based on how much we were taking advantage of our new digital workflows, we needed Adobe Sign licenses for more than 90 colleagues.”
The legalities surrounding e-signatures were discussed for a long time so that a company signature policy could be adopted. “Put simply, it takes time to understand the different types of e-signatures, how they differ when, for example, an advanced e-signature is sufficient and for which contractual processes we would instead require a qualified signature which requires a certificate attached to the signature. In the latter case, further technical prerequisites had to be created, before topics related to export control laws were discussed and we had to ask ourselves whether to trade with companies which are on sanctions lists.”
As always, introducing a new technology was very much a case of “learning by doing”. “It was a great success for us to be able to get up to speed so quickly as well as having established another modern solution in the company,” says Zsebök. “Electronic signatures constitute a significant step in terms of enabling working remotely to be equivalent to working in the office, including beyond the current crisis. My personal wish is that e-signatures become our standard rather than just a nice alternative.”