Software Tech To Accelerate Your Nonprofit Political Reform Efforts

Nonprofit political reform organizations have unique software needs to effectively advocate for their causes, engage with supporters, manage campaigns, and drive impact.

Here are some key software categories and examples of best-of-class software that you should consider to address those needs.

Constituent Relationship Management (CRM)

You likely need a central location to track all of your volunteers, donors, supporters and the like, as well as what communication has ben sent them, how much they’ve donated, and where they engage with you the most. There are many examples of this from the high end and more costly, like Salesforce Nonprofit Cloud which is version of a commercial software that’s more tailored for nonprofits, to low or no cost solutions. The advantage of using Salesforce is that the platform is quite robust and has many features and add-ons by a large pool of third party vendors that you can use. Of course, all of those additional third-party tools also translate to more costs.

Given most nonprofits don’t have the same monetary resources of an enterprise and typically run a tight ship with regard to the cost-to-value ratio they expect, as well as the desire for a solution that’s tailored for the nonprofit space, you may want to look at other solutions like Everyaction, Action Network, or Nationbuilder. These platforms are not only targeted in pricing for nonprofits, they were designed with political nonprofits in mind. Among these, Bonterra Everyaction provides the most flexibility with regard to integration with any third-party, cost-effective solutions for marketing, event management and others like those listed below.

Mind you, if you have no funds, then you may want to start tracking your constituents in tools that are freely available to you like Google Sheets (spreadsheet) or the Microsoft Office 365 Excel that you already use for your personal needs. Just keep in mind that there are some security and scalability issues you’ll hit fairly quickly after you start up and gain momentum. Nevertheless, this is a reasonable choice and place to start.

Advocacy and Grassroots Engagement

If your organization is specifically focused on affecting policy change, then you’ll need to not only keep abreast of current legislation, but also who has sponsored the current or similar / related past bills, and how they’ve voted on them. Additionally, you likely want to mobilize your grassroots volunteers to engage their legislators by writing to them or contacting them via phone and email to express their concerns and wants.

There are a number of tools to consider here and some that clump much of what you may be looking for into a single platform. You would also need to know your budget here and willingness to bypass combing the publicly available content in favor of tools that aggregate the data and may even provide platforms for interacting with your supporters, advocates, and volunteers on a bill.

On the higher end, you’ll find Quorum. It’s designed for organization with higher budgets and the need to mobilize large constituents. If you’re more limited on budget, you should look into tools like LegiScan, LexisNexis or TrackBill.

Fundraising, Donor Engagement

There are two classes of software that you’ll want to consider for your fundraising. One is focused on collecting donations and managing fundraising campaigns. You can think of this as your credit card processing or payment collection method for your donations with the additional tools to gain insight about your fundraising efforts, what’s working and how you can improve your efforts.

Here you’ll want to consider solutions from DonorPerfect and Anedot which include a set of tools for not only capturing funds, but also managing your donors information. If you’ve already signed up for a CRM like Bonterra Everyaction, it’s a matter of enabling credit card processing and creating forms for capturing the donations. Insight about the campaigns can be managed directly in Everyaction or with their fundraising add-ons.

Another one in this category that focuses purely on payment collection is PayPal. PayPal is commonly used for collecting payments by individuals and businesses. Its value lies in how it’s such a common name and trusted by so many folks. What’s more, they offer special nonprofit pricing to confirmed 501(c)(3) oganizations.

The second class of software is for researching who may be interested in giving to your organization, based on their past giving, or who among your existing donors may be able to donate more. In both cases, you’re trying to figure out where to concentrate your limited set of volunteers and staff as well as time and money so that you can more easily and predictably fund your efforts.

A key factor to consider for any tool you select here is how well it integrates your information and helps you dig deeper into either your list of existing donors, or uses your list of donors to find others with similar interests, means and giving patterns. Platforms like WealthEngine and Donorsearch are excellent examples that gather giving and institutional data about donors for various causes and have integrations with CRMs or means of importing your contacts via spreadsheets and CSV (comma separated value) files.

Email Marketing and Communication

Your messaging is crucial to how you can make more people aware of your efforts, recruit more supporters and volunteers and get more donors. After carefully defining your strategy and messaging, and certainly as you’re testing the various messages, you’ll want the means of managing who gets informed when and how. You’ll also want a way to invite people to your various activities, or keep them informed of your efforts via a newsletter.

This is where tools like Mailchimp and Constant Contact come in. They are traditionally used by companies for their marketing efforts which includes the occasional email or even newsletters. They both offer means for managing your supporters list and sychronizing them with your CRM or list management spreadsheets. They also offer various templates for getting a newsletter started, and tools for doing A/B testing of your message. Pricing is competitive in this space and they both offer discounted pricing for organizations that can prove their nonprofit status.

Website & Analytics

As part of your communication strategy, you’ll likely have a website where you present your message, list events and activities, tell folks how they can get involved, and highlight specific advocacy your supporters can engage in. You’ll also want to embed your fundraising forms on your website, provided by your fundraising tool of choice.

The CRM tools already mentioned, like Everyaction or Nationbuilder provide website functionality, though they are somewhat limited. That may be a good start. However, as your needs grow and you wish to better brand your efforts and embed event management, fundraising, volunteer management and other tools on your website, you’ll want to look at stand-alone solutions like WordPress (via WordPress.com or WPEngine) or Wix.

WordPress is used by many organizations big and small, for-profit or nonprofit and likely has the greatest number of add-on software (plugins). Wix, on the other hand, is more user-friendly especially when it comes to branding. They both offer templates you can use to quickly spin up your website with some standard navigation menus and pages.

Additionally, to ensure you know how well your content is received, how your website visitors interact with your website, and how successful your website messaging is you’ll need to use analytics tools like the free Google Analytics.

Social Media Management

No communications and messaging discussion is complete without a discussion about social media. Many people now receive their news and engage organizations via social media, whether we like it or not. This is where platforms like X (formerly Twitter), Facebook, LinkedIn among other more specialized ones comes in. Each of these has its own targeted audiences and use for your organization.

There are too many many social media platforms and you have too little time to manage each one individually. That’s especially true when you consider the multiple accounts you’ll have to manage under each platform such as those for the organization as well as for your key staff like your Executive Director.

A better approach would be to use tools designed for not only seeing all of your posts and responses in one place, but also to learn about best times to post, patterns about what messages work better than others, or even respond directly to the messages for each platform from a single location.

Tools to consider here are Hootsuite and Buffer, commonly referred to as social media management tools. Buffer may be a good place to start as it offers a free version for startups, though Hootsuite is the better known name among those who’ve used social media management software and is one of the original tools designed for this purpose with quite a robust set of features. Both tools offer discount pricing to confirmed nonprofits.

Event / Volunteer Management

Aside from your communication and messaging strategy and their associated tools, you’ll likely want to capture sign ups for your events, whether it’s for in-person meet-n-greets, to online educational events or fundraising mashups. You’ll also want the means to have folks sign up to volunteer for these events or your various efforts to bring about change.

Once more, there are two classes of tools you’ll want too look at here. First, it’s the run of the mill event announcement and sign up management tools. This includes tools like Eventbrite and Mobilize, with Mobilize focusing specifically on the reform and nonprofit space. Both tools act as platforms to facilitate event registration, ticketing, and attendee tracking for your events and conferences. Given Mobilize‘s specific focus, they also provide the means for capturing support for online petition signing.

The other class of tools focuses on recruiting volunteers. Here you’ll find tools like VolunteerMatch, which provide you the means to match nonprofits with potential volunteers. Think of these as job boards for the various volunteer roles you may have and want to fill with qualified candidates who are interested in volunteering with organizations that fit their interests.

Survey and Research

There will come a time when you’ll want to survey your supporters or volunteers to gather information about various aspects of your operations and efforts. You may want to understand what they think is working for your events or what interests them most in your newsletters. Or you may be interested in learning where they think you should focus your efforts or how you should change your strategy and associated tactics.

This is where tools like SurveyMonkey or Google Forms come in. They are user-friendly survey tools that enable you to collect valuable feedback and start your analysis. SurveyMonkey has a very robust set of features around collecting survey data and even suggestions on how to best present the questions, along with taking the guess work out of look and feel with survey templates.

Google Forms is a simpler tool that may fit your budget well (free), especially if you’re already using Google’s set of tools personally or have purchased Google Workspace as your organization’s productivity tool. However, Google Forms is a rudimentary tool that outputs the data in a web page or spreadsheet format and is limited in how the surveys can be constructed. Both Google Workspace and SurveyMonkey offer discounted pricing on confirmed nonprofit status.

Collaboration, Project Management and Productivity

At the onset, when you’re bootstrapping, you’ll likely use your own Google or Outlook account for emails, calendaring, and file sharing. This is a good place to begin, especially given they are free. As your needs grow and, especially, as your volunteers come and go, to ensure communication continuity on messages and various documents you create for your organization and efforts, you’ll want to to start using Google Workspace or similar paid tools for emailing and communication with outside organizations.

Internally, you may also need a central communication and coordination tool like Google Groups that’s included with your Google Workspace or a tool dedicated for this purpose like Asana or Basecamp.

Google Groups is a good place to start, though the interface is quite dated and sometimes confusing. Tools like Basecamp provide a project- and team-based communication and associated features that make it quite easy to manage time-based activities like tasks, documents, messaging, and include integration with other tools you may already be using for your website, collaboration and communications.

All of these tools provide nonprofit pricing on confirmed status.

Login Management

One last tool to consider is a password manager. By now, you’ve noticed the large number of tools you’ll be using, and realize they each have their own associated logins. As a way to ensure that you not only remember the various passwords, but also use strong passwords and have a secure way of sharing them with your staff, you’ll want to pick a password manager from the likes of Bitwarden, 1Password or Lastpass. Bitwarden is open-source though a bit hard to use. 1Password and Lastpass are both well known tools in this space and a bit easier to setup and use.


It’s important for nonprofit political reform organizations to select software that aligns with their specific needs, budget, and long-term goals. In your consideration, we always recommend starting with knowing what are your organizational Mission, short and long-term goals or your north star, and associated Key Performance Indicators. This will help determine which of the tools above are most important to you and should have the more robust set of features to address your needs.

What’s more, depending on where you are on your organizational growth and fund availability, you can choose to start with a smaller set of tools, or a free version of one, then upgrade to the paid subscriptions as your needs and means grow. We especially recommend starting slowly and taking advantage of small gems hidden in the existing set of tools you may be using before using your hard-to-come-by funds on unnecessary features and software packages.

With that said, you’ll likely want to start your paid software selection with a CRM, as this is the hub for all of your organizational information and your contact list management. In reviewing which CRM to use, you should then weigh in your organizational goals and metrics to see which CRM best addresses 80% of those inherently, without the need for additional third-party tools. This will both reduce your overall costs as well as help you laser focus on what additional third-party software and add-ons you’ll need as your organizational needs grow. This is the other 20% of capabilities from the categories listed here.

This sounds involved and it is, but the effort you put in up front will pay dividends as you work through your fundraising, recruiting, event management and, most importantly, bringing about the political and policy changes we all need.

I admit.  We’ve been selfish.  

Our team of contractors have been distributed since ValTeo started in 2017.  They live in California and Illinois. So, we didn’t have much to plan insofar as distancing our team members. We keep in touch using different online tools or via web conferencing and calls.

So, we were just thinking of ourselves!  

This was probably not our best moment. 

We’re changing that today.  Last Friday, I announced on LinkedIn our offering: free consulting services for automating document creation and agreement signing.  

There are actually two offers here.  First, for any organization, no matter what services or products you offer, we’ll review your current steps for sending out agreements, figure out how we can automate the manual steps, and provide a plan.  Think of the plan as a checklist, as well as detailed steps, online resources and tools to use to develop and launch the document and eSignature automation. In other words, we’ll tell you what you need to do, draw the map and take the guesswork out of how to do it. 

Second, if your products and services are directly helping fight COVID-19, meaning you’re in healthcare or your products and services are targeted at healthcare organizations, in addition to the above, we’ll train you on the use of specific eSignature and document generation tools we’d recommend, as well as provide hands-on web conferencing to get you started with using all of them. 

Here’s where you can sign up for the next available time to get this process started.

If you have suggestions for other services we can provide, please fill out our contact form.

In this post, Scott Os of Synaptix Group will follow-up his recent post on what is a Center of Excellence (CoE), with information on how to establish and staff the CoE, providing you with supporting PDFs to get the process kicked off right.

Let’s say you’ve read about the importance of a Center of Excellence. On the road to your Digital Transformation, you’re now wondering, “what do I do now?” There are many things to consider, the various roles, responsibilities, and use cases that need to be defined, software and personnel costs that need to be reined in and stakeholders that need to be informed.

But where do you even begin?

That’s the premise of this post. I’ll talk about the structure, roles and responsibilities of a newly formed CoE as it relates to your company’s progress through a DTM Maturity Model, with suggestions on a path for how you can, not only create such an organization, but create the foundation to accelerate change while taking full advantage of your company’s Digital Transformation software investments.

General Guidelines

A CoE can be a service organization that provides expertise across projects in a ‘shared services model’. The function of the CoE is to drive standardization of quality products, architecture and governance policies, as well as processes across the enterprise. Leveraging a centralized management and automation platform for processes, consulting, and support services, as well as delivering leadership and advocacy to help the organization improve business outcomes.

The true value of the CoE will be around participation and the broader strategic efforts within the company. To accomplish this, the CoE needs to have strong alignment on business goals/strategy and the CoE mission. Additionally, the CoE must focus spending on the future of the organization, not just on the “squeakiest wheel.”

CoE Roles & Responsibilities

A component of the CoE charter describes the interaction of the CoE and the Steering Committee. CoE Leadership will be driven by Strategic Business Initiatives approved by the Steering Committee, and will either implement the strategic elements, or work with Project Managers & Architects to implement the policies, procedures, best practices at a more tactical level.

The CoE would be staffed with people who bring domain expertise about the business and technology. These should be from the population who run the day to day operation of your company and who are directly affected by the changes to any systems or processes. They are the people who know how changes will affect staff and what value they could deliver.

Keep in mind, this team will create a standard methodology and best practices to bring consistency and leverage to development projects. In other words, what’s learned from the initial implementations will set the precedent on what mistakes to avoid and how to accelerate adoption and change within your organization.

This added experience is the gem for creating a CoE: by creating the lessons learned and best practices, you’ll reduce the chances of wasted effort and investments in software and personnel.

In the larger context of the company’s continued Digital Transformation on the path to higher DTM Maturity, throughout the execution of the plans put in play by the CoE, the organization is creating reusable assets and a playbook that would be leveraged in the future by other departments and project teams.

Does all of this sound too big to take on?

Fret not! One of the key advantages of the CoE is that it can initially be built on a small scale, with minimal incremental expenditure. As its value is delivered to management, the staff, and individual project teams, it can iteratively evolve and scale up its resources, services, and capabilities. The CoE model can also be a critical asset for distributed organizations, providing centralized processes, infrastructure, and reporting.

Roles and responsibilities will vary depending on CoE structure and budget, but you will generally have resources that fall into one of the following four categories:

  1. CoE Leadership
  2. CoE Core Team
  3. Project Team(s)

CoE Leadership

CoE Leadership typically consists of the following:

  1. Executive Sponsor(s)
  2. Champion(s)
  3. CoE Manager

The Leadership team provides the executive support and governance to project teams. Because both are represented in leadership, IT and Business work as partners in project delivery.

CoE Core Team

The CoE Core Team is comprised of the following:

  1. CoE Manager
  2. Program Manager (Optional or could be the CoE Manager)
  3. Enterprise Architect
  4. Solution Architect(s)

This team handles demand and intake from project teams. They are tasked with standardizing the delivery process and performing the value-add services of the CoE. They own and improve best practices and methodology, enable project team members, deliver proofs of concept, and participate in program/project governance.

Project Team

Project Team(s) consist of the following:

  1. Project Manager
  2. System Architect(s)
  3. Business Architect(s)
  4. SMEs
  5. QA/test

Project Team(s) manage and drive the project on the ground. They are responsible for the day to day deliverables and scope and delivery project outcomes according to the best practices and methodology determined by the CoE.

One of the most effective tools that should be employed while constructing the CoE is a responsibility assignment matrix or RACI chart. This is a very useful tool during the formation phase to make certain all is covered and also during the operating phase to make sure nothing “falls through the cracks.”

Here’s a problem our customers face often. They buy DocuSign and know they can use it to streamline their document-based processes, like a self-storage occupancy agreement. But, they’re not getting much use of it since it means teaching their staff to learn a whole new tool, with its own interface, lingo, and process quirks, namely DocuSign.

Most customers prefer to have a simple HTML form on their Intranet, already used by their staff, to collect name, email and some relevant info about a customer, have it populate in a DocuSign form and send it out for signing. And they want it to seem as though it’s coming from their staff, not just some random “System” name.

So, how do you get the value of your dollars spent on DocuSign AND ensure your customers get emails from their trusted reps, all while reducing or even eliminating any training material or time?

You work around what DocuSign provides!

We like using DocuSign PowerForms for these scenarios, but not just in the way DocuSign designed it. DocuSign PowerForms are web addresses that you can generate to associate with a Template you’ve created. The “Power” in PowerForms is the ability to use a standard web form to collect data and then send it to DocuSign via the web address to populate that form and send it out for signing. There’s no need for anyone to log into DocuSign to send out the form or to do a double entry of the data in your CRM / Intranet, then DocuSign.

So, what’s the catch?

PowerForms are associated with a single “Owner”. That means, the emails sent to your customers will always seem to come from the same person. May be that works for you, but for most of our customers, they want to not only have the email appear to come from their staff, they also want that person notified once the documents are all signed.

How do you get around this?

Well, you can write a fully custom integration and have your solution-cost jump by at least 10 to 100 times!

I assume you don’t like that idea.

Assuming you have a handful of Templates (different types of forms) that don’t change very often, and that you have a manageable number of staff for whom you’ve paid to use DocuSign, you can create the same form as a Template and PowerForm owned by each of your staff members as a user in DocuSign.

That means each of the PowerForms has a separate web address and, based on who has logged into your Intranet, the page can decide which PowerForm to pass the data into. In other words, you can setup a simple Intranet web page where your staff already logs in, where they’ll enter the data for each customer, may be even have it populate your backend database or CRM, then pass it into each rep’s custom web address (DocuSign form) to send out for signing.

This adds a bit of logic and very light programming on your Intranet, but you’re likely already tracking that information there and now just have to pass it into DocuSign.

All of this, without a single view of DocuSign Sending web app…and without expending any training time or dollars.

That’s it.

If you want to learn more about the details of how to do this, hit up one of our staff to give you the full breakdown!

Happy automating!

That’s right! Digital Transformation is dead! I don’t mean “dead” meaning it’s going away and there’s something replacing it.

I mean that it has as much life as talking about a digit or a binary. It’s devoid of any human emotion. It doesn’t truly convey what I mean when I speak with people about why I exist…why ValTeo Tech exists…why we do what we do everyday with joy…why I can’t wait to have another conversation with another friend, one of my customers.

When I look back at my life changing experiences, it’s been about the effect that each occurance had in helping me see beyond myself, beyond the world I’d become accustomed to, beyond what I’d surrounded myself with.

It’s about how I was transformed, even if that transformation at first seemed painful; even if the change was not what I wanted. The words of Dalai Lama come to mind, “Remember that not getting what you want is sometimes a wonderful stroke of luck.”

I would add that you have to remember that often, you must dive into the path that leads you to hell, in order to go past it. Often, it’s best to own and push through the mental, emotional and physical pain to get to the other side and find yourself, your company and everyone whom you followed, everyone who followed you, become a transformed and better person.

This is true about all meaningful growths we experience as humans. It’s true of our growth from child to adolescent to adult. It’s true for our transitions from students to business people, and it’s certainly true about the profound transformation from individuals to couples to parents.

Why is this important?

Why should you care?

It’s this transformation, the ever push to find fulfillment, understanding, and a new perspective that gives our lives purpose and meaning.

It’s this transformation that convinced us to focus ValTeo Tech on helping others eliminate the mundane in their daily lives. It’s seeing how our customers take advantage of the new found freedom to spend more time on what’s important to them. Whether that’s helping their customers have better financial footing, or having more time to spend with their families, or some other plans that helps them find fulfillment.

So, when we speak about “Digital Transformation”, what we really aim for is the PERSONAL transformation. It’s the ability for us individually and as a company to bring about such profound and meaningful change for people that they are able to pass through the pain of transformation with guidance from those who’ve been there before…who understand the pain and how to minimize it, but also know and can remind of the rewards that awaits on the other side!

This is why I think the term Digital Transformation, although a term that we’ve adopted, never does justice to what we really aim to do for each person we meet.

In the end, we realize we don’t exist to change technology or a company.

We, the people behind ValTeo Tech, my family and theirs, are here to better our society. We’re here to guide our customers through the journey to rise above and eliminate the mundane and find that personal fulfillment we all yearn for, need, and deserve!

Welcome to the new Digital Transformation!

DocuSign & Adobe Sign’s Calculated Fields are Good for Much More than Just Calculations

How do you build a simple tool to both allow custom pricing calculations and contract signing on an eSignature platform? You use the DocuSign Calculated Fields or the Adobe Sign Calculated Fields, of course!

That’s the straight use of these fields, but they also open up other uses / options on either platform.

How are Calculated Fields Typically Used

A good simple use case example of calculated fields came up in one of our recent solutions where our customer wanted to allow their clients to get immediate pricing as part of an office cleaning and janitorial service quoting/contract signing solution.

The client would initiate the request directly on our customer’s site by selecting the types of services they needed, fill out their business / personal info and submit. The data is immediately sent to DocuSign and the web page redirected to that platform to review and sign the contract. The customer could change the square footage ranges from a dropdown list and, in the process, see an updated quote on pricing, all with different discounts being displayed for various sized spaces and different services. Once they signed, it was no longer a quote, but a new contract. Voila!

This is what’s often referred to as a Configure Price Quote (CPQ) solution, albeit this is a much simplified version of it.

None of that is new, though most folks are unaware of this cool control on the DocuSign and Adobe Sign platforms.

How are Calculated Fields Different

Calculated Fields on DocuSign provide the ability to dynamically conduct arithmetic calculations on data fields during an agreement signing. These calculations can be for numbers or dates, such as setting an effective date for a contract based on the date an agreement is signed. Adobe Sign additionally provides the ability to concatenate text to create suggestions of text or terms.

DocuSign’s Calculated Fields assume number calculations and, as a result, all data presented is right aligned. You can format the data to have 0 or 2 decimal places. Additionally, you can perform some data operations with predefined functions such as to obtain date differences.

Adobe Sign fields have more flexibility by allowing various date / number formatting and manipulations. As a result, you can manipulate data presentation for numbers and text, as well as the types of calculations that can be performed such as getting the minimum value from a set of fields, or rounding up/down of calculated value.

What are Some Unique Uses of Calculated Fields

So, you may be asking, “Ok, wise guy! What’s the not-so-typical use of calculated fields?”

Good question. I’m glad you asked! ?

Calculated Fields do very well in allowing your customers and document singers to dynamically change values to see immediate result during their signing, sure! In the process, the round-trips, requesting revisions based on specific customer needs, is reduced or eliminated, and your Time To Close or Time Value of Money metrics improve.

On the other hand, many integrated solutions and robust Contract Management System like Conga in conjunction with Salesforce, or custom applications, provide for uses cases that are simple to complex for presentation and even customer manipulation of the data before sending any of the information for signing to an eSignature platform.

Does that mean Calculated Fields have no use?

Actually, they have a hidden and an important value! Given the formatting options they provide, especially for numbered values, where it’s imperative the data is right aligned or localized (such as with date presentation differences between US vs. Europe or South America), they are a perfect solution.

All calculations and CPQ manipulations by sales staff or even customers can still be conducted on a system better designed for that purpose, then properly presented for final execution on the eSign platform.

Bottom line is that whether you wish to use Adobe Sign or DocuSign’s Calculated Fields to allow your customers to manipulate their custom quotes directly on those platforms, or you wish to incorporate at least the formatting of these fields in conjunction with your existing CPQ or other quoting applications, Calculated Fields deserve a serious consideration for data manipulations on your eSignature platform of choice.

Happy calculating!

In this post, we’ve invited Scott Os of Synaptix Group to explore and explain what is a Center of Excellence, the needs it serves to help move you along the maturity model, and why it’s a key success factor for your Digital Transformation. Scott is the Founder and President of The Synaptix Group and draws on over 30 years of senior level experience managing the design, development, and implementation of document based solutions, with a particular focus on Enterprise deployments in public and private sector.

In a recent ValTeo blog, the DTM Maturity Model outlined the stages an organization traverses as it rethinks many of its customer interactions and internal transactions that revolve around paper-based processes.

As companies move from the nascent to the pivoted stage, there is a recognition that change is needed. This recognition may result from shrinking profits and/or the introduction of external threats, forcing the organization to rethink its legacy processes. It is typically at this time that a single individual or group of individuals emerge that are the thought leaders on how to evolve the company in order to handle this change. It is at this time that the concept of a Center of Excellence (CoE) begins to take form, though it may not be called that. During this stage, the early planning is done to prepare for how to structure and staff a CoE.

However, it is really once an organization moves from pivoted into the accelerated stage that the CoE typically begins to emerge as a force for change in many ways. This is done with an eye toward shared technologies, skills, training and knowledge transfer. The CoE is also tasked with documenting the process to assess new use cases, determine their priority and develop timelines

Whether the 4 levels of enterprise digital maturity are referred to as nascent, pivoted, accelerated, and optimized (as in the Valteo Tech’s DTM Maturity Model) or an enterprise level of maturity is characterized by the 6 levels defined by Forrester (Continue as Usual, Test and Learn, Systemize and Strategize, Adapt or Die, Transformed and Transforming, Innovate or Die), or the terms for the waypoints along the journey map to potential, formation, building/evolving, operationalized, and adaptive as in the business process management maturity model, what we have found across dozens of company experiences is that there is a consistent theme:

In order to move your organization along the maturity road, you must adopt a consistent, standardized approach to your digital transformation.

Why Have a Center of Excellence?

A recent Forrester study on business process improvement, coupled with our experience with companies of all sizes and government agencies, demonstrates that building a CoE significantly enhances the ability of an organization to meet or exceed the goals that center supports.

Source: Forrester Research, Inc. US and UK Enterprise Architecture and Business Process Management Online Survey

The key data from the above graphic is that 67 percent of respondents who were successful in bringing about change in their organizations had formal CoEs. Among those reporting failures, only 14 percent had such centers in place.

When governance, a support structure, guidance, metrics & measurements, along with shared learning exists across an organization, success is far more likely. Per above data, it’s almost 4 times more likely. Such successes support organizational, program, and specific project goals that are best aligned with company long-term strategy and bear measurable results based on agreed-upon company metrics. In fact, this level of organization and success acceleration is one of the key indicators of that organization’s achievement of the Accelerated Maturity level on the VTT model.

So, why a CoE?

  • Maximize Project Team Success
  • Reduce project risk
    • CheckpointsBest practices
  • Recognize ROI quickly
  • Maximize efficiency through reuse
  • Reference architecture for ease of maintenance
  • Harmonize Business and IT
    • Transformational role in automating processes

What is a Center of Excellence?

A center of excellence (CoE) is a team that provides leadership, best practices, support, training, and collaboration for a focus area to drive business or customer-valued results. At its core, a CoE is a governance model for guiding and managing a program across an organization.

The CoE provides visibility within the company about the idea of digital transformation, and helps the idea catch on in organizations that might otherwise be resistant to change. It is recognized as being a building block for realizing the wide-scale potential and value of digital transaction management solutions.

In order for a digital transformation to be successful, any adoption plans must address cultural, technological, and organizational elements. These are analogous to the main tenets in enterprise architecture, people, process and technology. The key takeaway here is that the concept of CoE presumes change is hard and will encounter resistance. To that end, any structure or activity defined in implementing and executing plans for a CoE is aimed to reduce the friction that often exists with the introduction of any process or technology.

How do you Implement a Center of Excellence

The great thing about a CoE is that there is more than one way to implement it effectively. We’ve seen many different successful CoE implementations over the years and what’s important is understanding how your own organization operates to build a CoE that will work well in that environment.

One of the key advantages of the CoE is that it can initially be built on a small scale, with minimal incremental expenditure starting with companies that are at the Pivoted stage of the VTT DTM Maturity Model. As its value is delivered to management, staff, and individual project teams, it can iteratively evolve and scale up its resources, services, and capabilities. The CoE model can also be a critical asset for distributed organizations, providing centralized processes, infrastructure, and reporting. This distributed model is indicative of organizations experiencing the Accelerated and Optimized level of maturity.

In our experience, all CoEs should serve the following basic needs:

  • Authority: Knowing what the CoE is responsible for and what decisions it can make is the most important element here. At one end of the spectrum, the CoE can be purely advisory. At the other end, it can be responsible for some tasks and have the power to dictate what other groups can and cannot do. The best approach depends a great deal on company culture.
  • Management: Allocating limited resources (money, people, etc.) across all their possible use is an important function of CoEs. They should ensure organizations invest in the most valuable projects and create economies of scale for their service offering. In addition, coordination across other corporate interests is needed to enable the CoE to deliver value.
  • Guidance: Standards, methodologies, tools and knowledge repositories are typical approaches to filling this need.
  • (Shared) Learning: Training and certifications, skill assessments, team building and formalized roles are all ways to encourage shared learning.
  • Measurements: CoEs makes it easier to measure the value delivered by DocuSign across the organization by centralizing and standardizing the top business metrics.
  • Support: For their area of focus, CoE’s should offer support to the business lines. This may be through services needed, or providing subject matter experts.

What Levels of CoE Exist at Each VTT DTM Maturity Stage?

The Nascent stage usually exists before organizations begin to recognize the need for CoE’s. Capabilities may initially live in functional organizations or with individuals. In the earliest stages, organizations may perhaps establish a steering committee or create initial pilot projects to begin to identify and focus skills in an organization.

Organizations begin to move to a Pivoted stage when they start viewing CoEs as an asset for project teams. With this project-centric view, they know that teams need support and are looking for a home for the deeper skills they require. Identify leaders for the CoE and other resources with the skills needed for the roles given above. CoE leadership begins to coordinate across projects, train and mentor others, help plan and set scope, and monitor the capabilities they were responsible for building.

To move to the Accelerated stage, they begin to define and document the standards and practices for their competency. By this stage, a team charter should define the center. Team members should capture best practices in a wiki or similar format and begin to more actively manage associated risk and quality. Training and reference best practices should be standardized and help to actively communicate the competencies across the organization. Many of these efforts are aimed to build a playbook or template of how the CoE should be implemented company-wide or deployed for a distributed / matrixed organizational structure.

Making the leap to the next higher level, Optimized, requires strong coordination and, therefore, strong commitment across executive levels. CoE sponsors and leaders should coach executive leadership so that organizations can gain this commitment to begin to build managed, strategic CoEs. The focus becomes across an organization with clear support for corporate plans, integrated with corporate scorecards, and an actively managed portfolio of initiatives that use their service. The true power of CoE’s begins to be unleashed as more formal career paths are created, where development and mentoring become available for the competencies the CoE supports.

In future installments, we’ll explore the structure, roles and tools a successful CoE typically employ.

Companies and organizations who’ve started their Digital Transformation often wish to bring about change in a controlled environment, gather the results, make any corrections before expanding the process, before applying it organization-wide. This is not only a sound approach, it’s a well understood pattern for ensuring adoption of a solution.

So, what “pattern” am I referring to? What are the steps in an organization’s transition from becoming aware of the need to change, to completely transforming every aspect of the business to be fully digital?

In this post, I’ll outline the ValTeo Digital Transaction Management Maturity Model© that can be used to not only gauge the stage of transformation for your organization, but to plan the next steps and better understand what value a fully digital business holds for you in the future.

This post is part of a series on How to Plan Your Digital Transformation.

What Does the DTM Maturity Model Represent

The Digital Transaction Management (DTM) Maturity Model has been developed by ValTeo Tech to gauge the level of digital transaction automation maturity in an organization, no matter the organization’s size, structure or industry. It’s loosely based on the Digital Transformation Maturity Model by Cognizant’s Brian Solis.

The DTM Maturity Model is both a planning tool and an aspirational roadmap as it points to a future for an organization that we don’t believe yet exists in any company. In fact, it may be that the ideal final stage is one that an organization always strives to attain and never does, but, in the process, makes Digital Transaction Management and, by proxy, Digital Transformation a part of its culture fabric and differentiation strategy.

To demonstrate this point with data, in Forrester’s Predictions 2017: In Digital Transformation, The Hard Work of Operational Excellence Begins, you learn that many organizations that began their Digital Transformation journey early now realize this process is not only about realizing the value in the use of new technologies, but a means to create immersive experiences for their customers and staff to rethink their operational processes. As you can imagine, this is not a single point of metamorphosis, but a continued refinement and redefinition.

By extension, the DTM Maturity Model, as we’ve experienced and defined it, describes the stages an organization traverses as it rethinks many of its customer experience interactions and internal transaction that revolve around paper-based processes.

The diagram below represents the four maturity stages. You’ll notice that the horizontal access defines the timeline of maturity for an organization. However, the vertical axis is left undefined or, at least, not labeled. This is because it can represent a few interchanging variables that may affect the rapidity of earned value, but not its general direction. For example, the vertical axis could be defined as Realized Value, Customer Satisfaction, Efficiency in Use of Resources, or a number of other metrics that an organization uses to measure success and differentiation.

What Does Each Maturity Level Mean

As you read through the definition of these levels, you may think the term “transformation” should apply to the use of a technology that replaces a manual step or an older technology. Our intention for the use of this term goes beyond this. Namely, by “transformation” we mean the use of technology to rethink a process, how people interact as a result of such changes, and the added value that they bring.

An example that often resonates is how the use of smartphones by the general public transformed the methods by which customers wished to, and now do, interact with companies. Smartphones weren’t simply a replacement of functional phones. They weren’t just a better phone, but a device that allowed for significantly different, more meaningful and valuable interaction options. This has lead to complete rethinking of customer support, introduction of new presentation, search and sales process, as well as communication by companies to their customers, employees and other stakeholders.

In this way, our reference to “transformation” or “transformational” then is not just an evolution or transition of a process or ways of doing business from one method or system to another. Transformation is intended to mean a complete metamorphosis that leads to rethinking of how business is done and, in many case, elimination of what’s no longer relevant and introduction of new methods, process or even lines of business.

Nascent

At this level, an organization has not yet recognized the need for change. Often there is no defined digital strategy and the use of technology, though it may be organized, is not intended nor implemented to be transformational.

Organizations in this stage may still be experiencing growth and are profitable. In essence, they perceive no business problem. So, why solve it. This scenario applies to both organizations that are too young, such as startups in established industries, or established companies where the old way of doing things continues to deliver results. In this latter group, the companies may be risk averse and uninterested in being disruptive.

While companies in this group often implement new technologies like a new CRM, ERP or DTM solution, these implementations are often a (further) digitization of how things were done before. In other words, Nascent companies are not without technology, but they don’t necessarily use it to transform their business and industry.

Pivoted

Companies in this category have recognized the need to change, albeit this may be a recognition by just one visionary leader or individual contributor. The recognition may result from shrinking profits and the introduction of external threats, forcing the organization to rethink its legacy processes.

Though a digital strategy may not yet be defined, it’s begun to take shape as a result of new experiments setup to rethink how business can be done for one use case or department. Such efforts are tactical and departmental, rather than organizational.

The technologies selected are chosen based on specific goals with selected metrics designed to not only measure success but determine whether an implementation was transformative. These initial implementations can be quite cumbersome as they require a whole new method of thinking, change management and knowledge transfer.

Knowledge of the new systems and processes are limited to the departments or groups who are conducting the experiments. Some of the lessons may be documented, but most of them are anecdotal and can be viewed as tribal knowledge. In fact, there’s no defined program or process for assessing new scenarios and candidates for change based on transformation, value-based metrics.

The teams involved often have an understanding of agile process and experiment with how it can be implemented at their organization. At first, such attempts are to combine the legacy Command and Control or central decision making with agile, resulting in what we refer to as Cagile (ka-gyle) process: partly centralized, partly agile with latency in making changes, learning from them, and deciding on new directions. This is a transitionary period and, though not optimal, a necessary step to begin the switch to a fully agile and decentralized decision-making process typically seen in more entrepreneurial / intrapreneurial settings.

Accelerated

Accelerated organizations often have understood the value of a digital transformation using DTM technologies based on limited experiments they’ve completed. Thus they actively develop and incorporate a digital strategy with the larger company growth strategy. What metrics to use to demonstrate successful transformations as well as measures on whether a transformation is even needed are defined and understood.

As a result of multiple experiments, the organization not only understands which transformative technologies to use, but also begins to build a roadmap for fully incorporating and integrating these technologies with other backend systems to reduce any manual transfer of data between such systems. All planning for new process or use cases to undergo transformations also incorporates integration modeling between the various systems.

Given the new company digital strategy, the early adopters and experimenters are tasked with developing a Center of Excellence (CoE) around shared technologies, skills, training and knowledge transfer. The CoE is also tasked with documenting the process to assess new use cases, determine their priority and develop timelines. They act as the central support hub, with specialized roles such as Chief Digital Officer, Digital Evangelist or similar titles leading them.

Agile processes are fully deployed and considered central to instituting a culture of continual improvement that involves deliberate experimenting by developing Minimum Viable Products (MVPs). In this way, MVPs are quickly validated by all stakeholders involved to determine whether the intended value can be realized with the new solution, how it can be corrected, or what changes need to be made to optimize it. Collaboration among teams, departments and regions, then, becomes part of the paradigm shift, though it is something that still requires training by CoE for each new group brought into this new strategic fold.

Optimized

At the Optimized level, digital strategy has become a part of the cultural fabric of the organization and is lived through every decision. This is evidenced when the digital strategy is not discussed as a separate piece that needs to be incorporated into the annual strategic review and planning, but it is the central aspect of the company strategic plan around which all other initiatives take shape.

Highly specific roles that were previously defined to help focus the organization on the digital transformation efforts are no longer needed. Hence, such titles as Chief Digital Officer or Digital Evangelists are eliminated and, instead, the related skills are incorporated into every individual contributor and leadership position. Training on how to foster such thinking and skills are fully formalized and become not only a part of the hiring process, but also part of their continual education.

The agile process of scientific experimentation is fully adopted by all teams and ingrained into every aspect of business, with small teams formed for both strategic and tactical projects. To that end, the CoE is decentralized and replicated in each region or practice in order to scale adoption of the new processes.

The entrepreneurial spirit of freedom to experiment, fail early, revise and retry is fully employed, including for revisions to the process to manage any transformative change. Everyday meetings and discussions have an inherent focus on how to optimize every aspect of business and measure any efficiency or efficacy based on understood metrics. In turn, the metrics themselves are challenged from time to time to determine whether better measures of success for fine tuning customer experience and process automation should be considered and used.

As you can now understand, this Optimized organization is likely inspirational in the same way that excellence can be achieved, but always leaving room for improvements.

In our future posts we’ll cover how the ValTeo DTM Maturity Model© can be used to better define your DTM transformation plan and, more specifically, which metrics can be used at each stage.

Let’s assume you’ve realized that in order to stay ahead of the competition and help scale your organization, you need to take your company through a Digital Transformation. In other words, you not only want to digitize your communication and transactions with your customers, but you also aim to automate much of the process with the goal of increasing customer satisfaction and gaining a larger market share.

You also know what is Digital Transaction Management (DTM), what role it plays in your organization’s transformation and how it differs from Paperless process initiatives of days past. Now you’re planning the transformation, how you’ll manage the change, and demonstrate success.

But how do you plan for this? What tools do you use to ensure success?

Starting with this post, we’ll begin to cover how you can bring about this change starting with building a Business Acceleration Adoption Plan (BAAP), the combined technology and change management plan, and how to execute on it. Here are the steps at a high level:

  1. What Success Metrics to Select
  2. How to Determine Your Organization’s DTM Maturity Index
  3. How to Use the DTM Maturity Index to Define Your Plan
  4. How to Prioritize Your Use Cases
  5. How to Deploy Your Solutions to Ensure Success
  6. Why Iterate & How to Refine Your Deployments

Today, we’ll take up the first of these topics, the metrics to use. Before that though, we first need to answer why you should build out a plan to begin with.

Why Build a Plan

It may be a foregone conclusion for some that you should build a plan for deploying any solution that changes your business processes, but the plan I’m referring to is not just another project plan. This isn’t a plan with a Work Breakdown Structure, in Project Management parlance, or a Product Backlog, borrowing from SCRUM Agile processes. Taking a step higher, this isn’t a Project Charter either.

What I’m referring to as a plan is something quite utilitarian and down to the brass tacks of data you’ll use to crystalize what goals you want to accomplish by pursuing the business process changes, why it’s important to make the change, what are the areas or use cases you’ll improve, which of those areas are of highest priority, and what business gains you’ll get from making the changes.

The intent is to develop something that you’ll continuously use to monitor success and correct, where necessary.

So, why is this important?

Far too often, we set out to change processes in our organization with little to no real results, aside from showing that we changed something. Is it enough that we no longer print paper? Not unless we demonstrate that the paper reduction cut company costs by $1M annually, which, in turn, allowed us to fund more research and development for our new products.

Is it enough that we can now track who made what changes when or when they signed an agreement? Not unless we can demonstrate that our sales staff previously closed 10 deals a month because each deal took that long to get approvals on the terms and conditions, but after only a short week-long training on the new processes and systems, they’re able to close 15 deals a month , a 50% increase in sales volume delivered “overnight”!

In general, what we’ve learned is that often the lack of success on various business process changes is associated with a lack of direction on how to prepare and promote such changes benefiting the workforce and customers. That means, we have to not only define what we’ll change, but also how we’ll prepare everyone for the changes ahead.

Then, after we make the change, we can always come back and see whether we were successful and, where we weren’t fully, we can then assess why and incorporate the lessons on better measurements, better maneuvering of the politics, better training, or any other steps to improve adoption and change management into the next set of use cases we wish to tackle.

So, why make a plan?

Because you need to know what would define success, how you can get there, whether you achieved it, and how you’ll apply the lessons to future changes.

What Success Metrics to Select

The selection of success metrics is completely dependent on what the business believes are of highest priority and value at any point in the company’s growth. Do you wish to reduce company expenditures to use funds for other purposes, or to increase profitability? Are you having trouble scaling your sales process and need to automate and better track their mundane activities? Is your customer satisfaction suffering, thus leading to losing sales and reducing your company valuation?

Here are some common metrics to consider:

1. Turn-Around Time (TAT) or Time To Close (TtC)

Turn-Around Time is, quite simply, how long it takes to complete something. It’s a phrase borrowed from computing, but can be applied to many activities. For example, how long does it take to create a new contract, send it out for review by a customer, capture corrections, make revisions, get approvals and signatures?

Your goal may be to reduce a TAT of 30 days on sales contracts by 75%. Why is this important?

It’s because the axiom of Time Value of Money tells us money has value today than the same amount in the future, given money can earn interest or it can be used for other projects or activities of value to a business.

Let’s demonstrate the importance of this measure with an example. Let’s say that our company has 5 sales staff. They close an average of 5 deals each month with an Average Deal Size (ADS) of $100k. Each deal takes about 30 days to close from the time the customer decides to buy to when we have a signed contract. That means we have an annual sales booking of $30M.

Now, with our new systems and automated processes rolled out that cost us $25k, we’re able to reduce our TAT from 30 days to 8 days. That’s a saving of 22 days. How much more value does that equate to?

Let’s calculate our Present Value of each contract. Assuming an average of 3% inflation, for the 30-day closing period under our legacy process, we get a present value of $99,754 for a $100k deal. Once we reduce our TAT from 30-days down to 8 days, we get a present value of $99,934 per deal, equal to a net gain of $180 per deal. Across the sales staff, that’s an increase in annual value of $54k or about half of a head count.

So, TAT may be a good measure.

2. Return on Investment (ROI)

What about ROI, one of management’s favorite measures of profitability? This could certainly be a part of the metrics to track, especially if we’re talking about cost savings in a process.

In our previous example, let’s add the note that our new digital process also equates to an average reduction in printing and overnight FedEx package savings of $28.94 per transaction. We now have an annual paper and printing cost savings of $8,682 with our new process. Coupled with our value gain of $54k earlier, that’s a total value gain of $62,682.

Purely looking at a single year’s return, we have an ROI of 151%. If we use the traditional calculation of technologies having a 3-year lifecycle, that’s a 452% ROI over 3 years.

ROI is certainly a good metric so long as we can measure and attribute the benefits gained as part of the new solution rollout.

3. Customer Satisfaction Index (CSI) or Net Promoter Score (NPS)

All of the above have been the tangible metrics for a solution. But what about how satisfied are your customers? How much is that worth?

Even though the value here is a bit tougher to calculate, most folks inherently understand how satisfied customers have a multiplier effect in the market by not only increasing the odds of that customer providing with repeat business, but also for acting as a reference as well as recommending your products or services. The intangible aspects of customer satisfaction are what affect your company reputation and its valuation.

What we typically see are goals to increase CSI by 10 to 20% points or to turn an acceptable NPS Of 10 or 20 to a 60 or 70. These are significant gains when you consider companies such as Apple are notorious for having NPS of mid 70’s.
So, which metric should you use? The answer may very well be more than one if not all of the above. As you can see, they work hand-in-hand and can have significant consequences on one another, as well as your bottom line.

What’s more, there are other tangential metrics that may be of interest. What should be the new ADS goal? Given it’s easier to do business with you, will the sales staff be able to negotiate higher prices or offer more products and services that increase your ADS?

What should be your new total sales volume since your sales staff can now close faster? After all, it used to take 30 days to close each deal, giving each sales rep a velocity of 5 deals per month. Can they now double that amount? It depends whether the previous process had an affect on the volume. If nothing else, it may mean that they will have more time for prospecting. In that case, what should be the new number of open deals per sales rep, their pipeline value, or their win rate?

The importance to grasp here is that no matter which metric you choose, you should choose something that you can measure, baseline and aim to improve with direct calculations of what benefits the whole organization gains once your solution is fully deployed.

Stay tuned as we continue with our posts on how to build and execute on your Business Acceleration Adoption Plan.

In the world of banking and wealth management, it’s imperative to conduct a DocuSigning (electronic signing via DocuSign) face-to-face. This is a common pattern in this space where Bank Associates or Financial Advisors aim to provide white-glove service in the process of closing loans or opening new accounts. It’s also a point of confusion given the misleading DocuSign terminology of “In-Person” signing roles.

So, how do you accomplish this using the DocuSign platform?

Use Case and Solution Overview

Let’s first describe the typical use case. Bob, the owner of famous men’s clothing Bobby LaSuit clothier, has been looking to purchase a new facility to expand his clothing line production. He has already determined the total loan amount he needs, spoken with his banker, Vidya, and provided her with all the necessary information to complete an application, including his financials for the past three years, list of his assets and a pro-forma, demonstrating what growth he expects over the next 3 years and why needs to purchase the larger facility.

Vidya has entered all data into the bank’s Loan Origination System (LOS) and completed her due diligence. She is now ready to go over the final paperwork with Bob and get a signature to start the funding process. Both Bob and Vidya are quite focused on maintaining their relationship as they’ve been working together for some time, the result of which has been support from the bank for Bob from his startup days through various stages of growth.

So, on a Tuesday morning, Bob walks into his local bank branch to meet with Vidya and sign the paperwork. She sits across the table from Bob and reviews the documents with him. All seems to be in order. She then kicks off the DocuSigning process through a press of a button in her LOS. She captures an electronic signature and the system routes all documents to her and for funding.

DocuSign provides a couple of different recipient role designations that could address this scenario. Each of these roles have their intended use and consequences. The first option could be to use the DocuSign In-Person signing role. This is a fast way of getting to a solution, but a clunky method of accomplishing it as it creates a poor experience for the face-to-face interaction we have in mind. Alternately, you can embed the DocuSigning process in a custom-built application, such as the LOS in our scenario, which provides a much better user experience but requires software development efforts. Let’s review each solution further.

In-Person Signer Role

So, what is an In-Person signer role in DocuSign and what’s its intended use?

An In-Person signer role is one of the many DocuSign recipient roles that’s available both via API and the Web App interface. It can be used when both the person collecting signature and the signer are at the same physical location. So far, so good in fitting our use case.

In fact, this is the ideal setup for realtors and why DocuSign originally came up with the role. Why? Often times, realtors have assistants who may prepare paperwork for buyers in making offers for a new home purchase. The realtor, then, would visit the buyer to answer any final questions, go over the paperwork and get the signature. However, both the realtor and the realtor’s assistant just use the DocuSign Web App. What’s more, since the assistant is setting up the paperwork, he would want to notify the realtor when the paperwork is ready.

In this scenario, the assistant prepares the documents in a DocuSign Envelope via the DocuSign Web App and setup the Buyer as an In-Person signer, with the realtor as the Host. The DocuSign system, then, sends an email to the realtor as the Host. When the realtor meets with the Buyer, she brings up her email, finds the notification from DocuSign, follows the link which launches DocuSign and provides a prompt for the realtor to pass her phone, tablet or notebook computer to the Buyer to start signing.

You can read about the mechanics of how to setup an In-Person Signing on DocuSign’s Support Center.

They key here is that the realtor had to initiate the signing, and is required to be a Sender in the DocuSign system. In other words, there’s no direct way for the Buyer to start the signing. In fact, even if the Buyer wanted to sign the documents directly, he would have no way of getting to them unless the Realtor was present and able to kick off the signing.

DocuSign even provides a mobile app that helps the realtor kickoff the signing, but it still requires the realtor to start the process as the host. If you’re using nothing but the DocuSign Web App to collect data and signatures, this can be an ideal and quick solution. In fact, all that’s needed is the ability to create an initial set of DocuSign Templates to mark up where data needs to be collected from the Buyer, in this case, or other recipients and where they need to sign.

However, in our use case, Vidya is using a Loan Origination System to collect all data, track progress on the loan and generate the loan documents. To use the In-Person signing, she would then have to switch from the LOS to DocuSign to setup the In-person signing.

Assuming a DocuSign Template is used, this process leads to a poor user experience, with Vidya having to use up to three different applications to collect data, generate the loan documents, then kickoff the DocuSigning: she would collect data and generate the documents in the LOS, then save out the documents on her local desktop, log into DocuSign and import the document to apply a template and send for in-person signing, then either use the Web App or her email to kickoff the signing. All of these steps are manual that act as speed-bumps in completing the transaction. Such user experience often means Vidya and her coworkers will reject the solution, even if it helps reduce paperwork!

However, this is a very fast method of starting to use DocuSign to collect signatures and a good interim solution until a more robust method is put in place. It certainly reduces the use of paper, even if it doesn’t reduce the complexity of the transaction.

Embedded Signing

But wait! There may be a better method.

DocuSign also provides the means of embedding the complete signing experience inside another application. This is ONLY available via API (programmatically) and cannot be initiated via the DocuSign Web App.

The experience is quite unique. In our use case of Bob and Vidya, Vidya would continue to collect all data and run through her loan origination process in her bank’s LOS. When the time comes to kickoff the DocuSigning, she would simply press a button inside her LOS to the effect of “Start DocuSigning”. The LOS, in the background, generates the document as it normally would, but sends it programmatically to DocuSign to create a new transaction, what DocuSign refers to as an Envelope, and start the DocuSigning.

The programmatic call to DocuSign would also include details about Bob, including his name and email, as well as any security measures required to validate that it’s in fact Bob DeSuit who’s signing the document. Additionally, the LOS could indicate to DocuSign if there are any areas in the documents where Bob needs to sign or initial, as well as any remaining data that needs to be collected or just validated.

As all of this occurs in the background, Vidya immediately walks Bob over to a banking kiosk where she instructs Bob to enter his Business ATM Card, enter his PIN and choose to DocuSign his loan. The Kiosk would pull up the DocuSign envelope and allow Bob to complete the DocuSigning directly on the touch-screen. At the end of the signing, all documents are properly routed to Vidya and for funding. The LOS is also notified of any changes Bob made during the process.

This solution provides an added flexibility that’s not available for the In-Person signer role. Namely, if Bob gets a call, prompting him to leave the bank without signing, Vidya could initiate a change in the LOS to send an email notification to Bob’s business email so that he can complete the signing remotely.

Not only is this solution more sophisticated and robust, it’s also more user friendly. There aren’t any clunky steps that require manual intervention by Vidya. All routing of data to DocuSign to start the signing, the process of switching from a Face-to-Face to a remote email-based signing, when necessary, the notifications to all system and people after signing is fully automated. As a result, not only is the signing completed more often and in less time, the solution has a significantly higher chance of adoption within all branches of the bank.

In the end, the bank loan officers use the system more, the customer’s are satisfied that they don’t need to deal with printed documents, the bank saves on printed paper, and the overall solution ROI significantly improves as time-to-cash (funding of the loan and collecting interest) significantly increases. It’s not uncommon to see a reduction in time-to-cash or time-to-close for 75% of transaction from 7 days down to one hour.

So, which choice fits your needs best?

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