Electronic Signature Solution Demands Multiple Application Support, Compliance

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Any effective electronic signature solution should meet 21 CFR Part 11 and other regulatory compliance requirements, be easy to use and include graphical signature supports, said a new white paper from Arx.

To ensure a low total cost of ownership (TCO) and improved return on investment, Arx offered several suggestions of what to look for in an esignature solution:

Sealed documentation: This is the basic building block of a digital signature solution. Arx advised making certain the solution is based on standard digital signature technology such as Public Key Infrastructure, and that the digital certificates are not self-signed because that can create a potential remediation problem; Multiple application support: Applications such as Excel provide only minimal support for digital signatures. Make sure that the applications and file types you intend to sign in are actually supported by the solution; Graphical signatures: Most standard applications lack graphical signature support, Arx said. "This is a major shortcoming," the white paper noted. Graphical signatures are important because they are often required by regulators and "the signer is reassured they have actually signed the document and that it is now legally compliant;" Multiple signatures: A "true" digital solution allows for multiple signings on the same document, whether it is Word or Excel; different users may be asked to sign different cells within the same spreadsheet; Transportability: If you want consultants, vendors or other outside partners to be able to validate files you've signed electronically, you need to be certain that your documents can be validated by an outside user without the user having to install a third-party application. In some solutions, digital signatures are not transportable outside of your organization and they are not always embedded in your edocuments; Seamless user registration: Make certain that staff using the system can start esigning after installation and training without having to start a "wizard" or call the IT department, Arx said; Ease of use: It should take a single click to ensure your document is sealed and legally compliant, Arx said; and TCO: Project this out three years to find hidden costs, including renewal of annual certificates. Also consider the help desk and deployment costs as the company grows.

For more information, go to www.arx.com (http://www.arx.com). -- Michael Causey