Prescribing the Right Solutions for Public Sector Digital Transformation

Digital agreement tools can empower local and national government employees to create, innovate, and collaborate. Daniela Becker, Area Vice President EMEA, at DocuSign, explores how DocuSign eSignature can quickly and easily re-define public sector work practices.

The public sector is the engine room of the UK economy, delivering goods, services, and administration to citizens, residents, and enterprises. The Office for National Statistics (ONS) reports there are currently 5.7 million people employed in the UK's public sector - accounting for nearly a sixth of all those in paid work (September 2021).

Whether working across national or local services, such as NHS healthcare, education, social housing, or even public transport, all segments face similar challenges. Outdated IT infrastructures and work practices mean a great deal of money is spent annually on paper, as well as the manual processing of documents. Furthermore, cutbacks and squeezed departmental budgets are adding additional pressures to those sectors keen to explore new ways of working.

A digital transformation of public sector responsibilities can readily help deliver smarter, quicker, and safer services to the public. DocuSign digital solutions are tailored to help public sector departments execute contracts and agreements with ease, while at the same time making security of individual data and identity a priority.

Patients and people rather than paper

When organisations consider digital transformation, it emphasises simplicity, ease of use, and clear time saving benefits. DocuSign eSignature is an essential part of this change, helping public sector organisations connect and automate how they prepare, sign, act on, and manage contractual and legal agreements.

For example, a city-centre hospital can share electronic consent forms with patients, which can be completed on a patient’s phone and returned at the tap of a button. Alternatively, a local authority can look to streamline its approach to contract agreement with third-party suppliers, including RFPs and similar procurement documents. This can readily be achieved using a library of pre-approved, customisable, and securely shared templates. Whatever the usage case, 82% of digital agreements are often completed in less than a day, and 49% in less than 15 minutes – delivering speed and ease of use to the organisation.

ith the growth of remote working and the ‘Anywhere Economy’, public sector employees are increasingly working apart from colleagues, customers, and patients. DocuSign eSignature can ensure that digital processes continue to be quick and efficiently handled, as forms can be digitally and remotely signed in a secure and legally valid manner.

Other benefits include greater visibility of the audit chain, so housing officers can see if a client has accepted a housing placement, for example, or procurement teams can ensure that senior managers have counter signed purchase agreements.

The continued use of digital services can also directly help to reduce the reliance on paper usage within an operation, supporting sustainability reforms and reducing ongoing costs. To date, DocuSign and its customers have saved more than 6 million trees, 55 billion sheets of paper, 22 billion litres of water and eliminated more than 2 billion kgs of waste - purely by embracing digital agreement activities.

Securely shape and seal the right kind of agreements every time

DocuSign eSignature includes a host of features that enable public sector departments to simply go beyond the signing of agreements. For example, DocuSign eWitness enables users to identify one or more individuals to authenticate the execution of important documents. It can be used in a wide variety of public sector settings, such as student services carrying out greater identity checks around enrolments, or social services facilitating adoption protocols, quickly and securely speeding up the processes around multi-party identification.

DocuSign eWitness is simple to set up, configure and share, accelerating the contract process at all touch points, while simultaneously providing court-admissible evidence thereby reducing risk. Once all documents have been signed, a Certificate of Completion is created containing evidence about the signing and witnessing parties, including address, email address, IP address and time stamps.

By tapping into the tools within eSignature, users can improve turnaround times of agreements, but also see a reduction in the cost of printing, and therefore sending of documents. For example, Lambeth Council uses DocuSign eSignature across a range of its services, from HR for employment agreements, to the neighbourhood housing teams for housing tenants and tenancy agreements, helping deliver cost savings and greater efficiencies.

Furthermore, the Council also uses DocuSign eSignature to embed an official electronic seal when it executes documents, helping to securely deliver extra identification around the signing process. The digitisation process allows for visibility of the seal when contracts are sealed – something not possible when documents were scanned. As a result, the council has seen a 1,300% increase in DocuSign usage, accelerating the entire contract process. The organisation has also seen a 90% reduction in the use of paper, saving taxpayers a considerable amount of money.

As more public sector services are moved online, digital transformation is no longer an option but a priority. By choosing to digitise procedures, the public sector can cost-effectively speed up processes, improve public engagement, and save resources and taxpayer money.

DocuSign eSignature is often seen as the first step on any public sector digital transformation journey. It seamlessly overcomes the barriers that prevent employees, and their clients, from being able to quickly and securely act and respond to any given contractual situation – all with speed and relative ease.