Many firms only hold on to paper documents for their signatures 0

Paper stackWhile many people find it convenient to use paper as a medium for note taking and idea generation, the only reason many firms hold on to paper documents is to preserve the signatures on them. That is the key finding of a new survey from knowledge management trade association AIIM.  The study found that  56 percent of executives retain signed contracts and order forms and 31 percent agree their paper documents are around only for the signatures. Consumption of paper remains high in many firms, but less and less of it is actually retained. The research is published ahead of new regulations which come into force in the EU later this year which are designed to standardise and codify the practice of retaining e-signatures on business critical documents. However, AIIM remains sceptical that the eIDAS regulations which come into force this Summer  will quickly create a standard trust based form of e-signature.

“Keeping paper files because of a mis-guided belief that signatures are required for compliance needs to be addressed, but the different legislation across the EU has been confusing for multinational organisations,” said Bob Larrivee, Chief Analyst at AIIM. “eIDAS serves as the functional requirement for businesses seeking to implement E-Signature technology, with a comfort level that if the solution they choose complies with eIDAS, it complies with the regulations of any EU member country.”

Last year, AIIM published a report which looked at the business benefits of digitised content.  Of business executives surveyed for the study, 84 percent saw payback from their paper-free projects within 18 months, with 26 percent doing so in fewer than six months. While 20 percent of respondents said  that consumption of paper is increasing in their organisation, around half (49 percent) say it is decreasing.  The introduction of eIDAs will offer similar benefits according to AIIM.

“eIDAS addresses these requirements head-on, coming with streamlining of E-Signing terminology and making it easier for businesses to identify those elements of E-Signature use relevant to their business goals and practices,” said Bob Larrivee. “E-Signatures are just one way of reducing paper in business processes, and we hope that our white paper can bring welcome clarity to eIDAS, and that World Paper Free Day 2016 can bring paper reduction to even greater prominence.”