Digitally sign multiple documents using the bulk sign feature of Ascertia's SigningHub

Posted by Nick Budden on 24-Feb-2021 14:30:00
The business and environmental need for digital bulk signing

If your organisation needs to send out hundreds, thousands or even millions of documents for signature and action, then manual systems quickly become unmanageable, environmentally unacceptable, and prohibitively costly.

There are several studies from reputable companies like Gartner and Sterling Commerce which estimate the average cost of processing an individual invoice is between £10 and £30. Some estimates put it higher still, at up to £50 per invoice.

It’s not just about the financial costs either, as the environmental costs of paper-based systems are huge. The European market has a volume of about 30 billion invoices per year, which consumes more than 12 million trees. The environmental impact and costs associated with paper production, distribution, handling and storage costs could be significantly reduced if electronic methods were used to replace paper-based invoices. The same arguments apply anywhere where documents need to be signed in volume, for example in the medical, government and financial sectors, to name just a few.

The benefits of e-invoicing, e-billing, e-statements and e-contracts compared with paper-based systems include:

  • Documents can be mail merged and emailed or downloaded from a website and sent to thousands of recipients
  • Immediate delivery with rapid turnaround times compared with posting letters
  • Documents can be noted as read, signed, and receipts provided
  • Automated archiving for sent and/or received documents
  • Workflow progress is visible and can be managed throughout
  • Protect the authenticity and integrity of archived data using digital signatures and timestamps
  • Supports long-term validation
  • Ability to archive millions of documents electronically – rather than relying on paper storage systems or digital scanning services
  • Compliance with laws and regulations, for example with the EU VAT Directive
What’s the Solution?

There are many business systems that can generate and send out electronic documents but it’s important to establish trust with customers or partners, to ensure authenticity for both parties, and to answer these questions:

  • Who is this document from?
  • Has it been legally signed?
  • Has it been changed since signing?
  • Can I trust it, now and in the long-term?

The best way to do this is through the use of digital signatures

To ensure authenticity and trust the e-documents should be digitally signed before they are sent externally for the recipient to counter-sign and return. There are several ways digital signatures can be applied to e-documents before they are sent but this is not something that can be done manually by administrators – you need an automated server-side solution to do that efficiently.

How does it work?

The Ascertia ADSS Signing Server can rapidly process millions of e-documents:
How bulk signing works

The Watched Folder Approach

Ascertia ADSS Auto File Processor (AFP) is an application for ADSS Signing Server that provides businesses with a convenient way of processing large volumes of e-documents by using a watched folder approach. It provides one of the simplest ways to utilise the power of the ADSS Server and can be easily inserted into a workflow system without any system integration or development expense.

The main use of AFP is for bulk signing of e-documents, particularly PDF invoices. It has been designed to provide intelligent watched folder monitoring of one or more Windows folders or Unix directories to process batches of e-documents in an unattended environment.

The AFP creates digital signatures by calling the ADSS Server with a specified signing profile. This pre-defined profile determines the type of electronic signature or digital signature to be produced and the signed e-documents are delivered back to the AFP which writes them to an output folder.

The signed e-documents are then ready to be sent out electronically.

Bulk corporate signatures

It’s possible to create automated corporate digital signatures on bulk documents (e.g. e-invoices) using one or more centrally held signing keys e.g. in a secure Hardware Security Module (HSM).

Authorised server signing

Additionally, you can authorise the use of corporate digital signatures via signed requests from a pre-defined list of approved staff (e.g. business managers).

Bulk Signing with Ascertia’s SigningHub application is easy to use

From the user perspective bulk signing with Ascertia SigningHub is easy to use.
Just like with a mail-merge you can add multiple recipients by uploading a CSV file.

Each recipient must have valid email addresses. This is a smart way for a document owner to add multiple recipients in a workflow through a single click.

  1. In the SigningHub user interface when you come to add recipients Click CSVPicture 2-1.
    A dialog will appear, click Picture 3to locate and select the required CSV from your system.
    Picture 4

  2. All the recipients inside the CSV (with valid email addresses) will be listed in a dialog box for selection. Select your choice recipient(s) and click the "Add" button.
    Adding recipients

  3. The selected contacts will be added in the workflow recipients list. A default role of signer will be assigned and can be changed if needed i.e. Signer, Reviewer, Editor, Meeting Host, or Send a Copy.

  4. Signature placeholders can then be added as normal and then the document is ready to be shared.
    Signature placeholders

  5. The document will then go to pending, so if a user simply needs to go to pending documents and simply select the document they wish to sign.
    Document to be signed

    Document to be signed

  6. Upon receipt of the document the recipient-user signs it in the normal way, completing the fields as required and electronically or digitally signing the e-document.

  7. The originator-user can monitor the progress of the workflow in real time, receiving notifications each time a recipient-user signs their copy of the e-document, with completed e-documents being returned for action and archiving.

Bulk signing is a powerful feature of SigningHub that enables users to digitally sign multiple documents in one go, saving substantial time in opening the document and signing them one by one. This feature works when you are using either local (client-side) signing keys or server side signing keys.

To find out more about bulk signing

Automated bulk invoice signing: https://www.ascertia.com/solutions-by-technology/automated-bulk-invoice-signing/
ADSS Signing Server features: https://www.ascertia.com/products/adss-signing-server/features/
Bulk signing: https://www.signinghub.com/bulk-signing/

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