IT Connect

Information technology tools and resources at the UW

eSignatures

The UW eSignatures service is now available to UW departments. eSignatures offers the ability to:

  • Send: Easily upload and send documents for electronic signature to people inside or outside the University
  • Receive: Signers receive and sign documents quickly, securely, and flexibly–on phone, tablet, or computer
  • Manage: Check document status and send reminders

Access to the eSignatures service is granted only after the completion of an onboarding process, which includes a risk assessment for each document type that will be sent through the eSignatures service, and training for your team’s technical contact.

Getting Started

University of Washington departments interested in using the eSignatures service for business purposes should follow the eSignatures onboarding process outlined below to get started. Note: Because eSignatures can involve legally binding signatures, this process will take four to six weeks. Complex usage can take longer as it will require additional approvals.

  • Select simple forms: Work with your department to identify a few simple forms you would like to start out with. Simple forms are those that are sent out to specific recipients for signatures and, if needed, the entry of some information. While more advanced forms are possible, they require more expertise in DocuSign (the eSignatures tool) and aren’t recommended as a starting point. 
  • Consider who will be the technical contact: Decide who in your organizational unit should be the technical contact for your account. This is often a central IT department or business unit. They will be in charge of member management and be a technical resource for learning about DocuSign and requesting additional support.
  • Begin the onboarding process: Request that your technical contact reach out to UW-IT with the eSignatures Interest Form. Our onboarding process will guide them through the steps necessary to ensure that eSignatures is a good fit for your team’s needs and confirm that your intended usage meets University policy and guidelines for eSignature usage.
    Note: eSignatures are governed by State and University policies; it is not possible to send documents for electronic signature without going through the onboarding process.

Detailed onboarding steps

  1. Send interest form: Your technical contact should use the eSignatures Interest Form to indicate departmental interest and provide forms.
  2. Initial review: Receive initial review and access to the DocuSign sandbox.
  3. Test in sandbox account:  Your team is expected to use the sandbox account to get a feel for how the eSignatures sending and signing process works and understand what your team will need to do to get your forms ready for eSignatures. The sandbox must not be used for official University business. 
  4. Submit additional info: Your team will need to provide more information on your intended eSignatures usage to begin the risk assessment process.
  5. Risk assessment review: The eSignatures Service team will review your risk assessment details. Depending upon the complexity of your forms, additional information may be required. 
  6. Receive DocuSign access: For approved risk assessment forms, departments will receive access to the live DocuSign account. Your team’s technical contact must go through DocuSign administrator training before your team can begin to send documents through DocuSign. 

How eSignatures Works

After your department completes the UW eSignatures Onboarding Process and has access to a UW DocuSign account, simple forms are easy as:

  1. Upload a completed document that is ready for signature(s)
  2. Add the name and email address for each recipient
  3. Send
  4. Receive a link to the completed document in your email

Easy Ways to Use eSignatures

The eSignatures service works especially well for documents that need to be completed and signed by one to four signers. Examples:

  • A document completed in Word that needs signatures from specific people.
  • A form sent out regularly, where the recipient needs to fill out some information and return it to you (with or without a formal signature)

FAQs

Are DocuSign signatures legally binding?

Electronic signatures provided by DocuSign are legally accepted by regulatory and governmental bodies.

What is the cost of this service?

DocuSign is offered at no cost through FY2018.

Can I send or receive HIPAA-protected information through DocuSign?

No — currently, the eSignatures service may not be used for documents that contain or request HIPAA-protected information.

Why is a risk assessment required?

In order to ensure legal compliance and reduce potential losses resulting from improper electronic signatures, governmental agencies must develop a process for evaluating their use of electronic signatures before implementation. The University of Washington has developed a “risk assessment” process similar to that used by federal and state central services agencies in order to assess the risks associated with using electronic signatures. As part of this process, before approving the use of an electronic signature in a particular case, the University will consider:

  • the likelihood of a successful challenge to the validity of the electronic signature, and
  • the monetary loss, or other adverse impact, that could result from such a successful challenge to the enforceability of the electronic signature.

In order to allow the University to adequately assess such risk, departments must submit a preliminary risk assessment form, and, if required, a risk assessment form, which will be evaluated centrally.

The University will evaluate the risks associated with the proposed use, based on the information provided, and determine whether a particular use of an electronic signature solution is appropriate. Approval of a particular use of an electronic signature solution shall not constitute approval of other uses of an electronic signature solution or approval of the use of a different electronic signature solution.

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