3 Ways I’m Using eSignature to Improve my Practice

Practice Management, Workflow tools Electronic signature concept. Man press sign key on computer keyboard.

Imagine this: It is 4:57 p.m. and you are frantically searching for the nearest location to print, sign and fax the service agreement for a client before the 5:00 p.m. deadline. Time is running out, so what do you do? eSignature is the perfect solution that will improve the efficiency and reliability of your practice. Below are three ways I am using eSignature to not only improve my practice, but also my personal life as well.

Client Service Agreements

I use eSignature for client service agreements to increase efficiency and offer more value to my clients. The biggest lesson I have learned while managing and growing my practice is to optimize as much of my time as possible. I have learned that to maximum my business profits, most of my time should be spent on meaningful, value-added tasks, such as accounting and taxation preparation services, and less time on administrative tasks. I have service agreement templates readily available to send depending upon which service I am offering. Updates include items specific to the service to be performed, such as the scope and deliverable date. Once the necessary information is updated and the terms are approved, I use eSignature to sign the agreement, and then send it to the client for final review and obtain their eSignature.

The result is a more efficient process that reduces the need to print it, sign it, scan it and then email it to the client. Another added perk of most eSignature applications is that you can also share documents with ease and store them in the cloud so that they are readily available. By implementing eSignature in your practice, you are able to seal the deal at a faster and profitable pace.

In addition to utilizing eSignature for client service agreements, you can use it for agreements to outsource services that are outside of the main areas of your practice, or even your comfort zone. Through trial and error (mostly error!), I have become clear that my strengths include educating, managing and consulting on all things related to accounting and finance. My strengths do not include web design or branding strategies. In the past, I have found reputable web designers through freelancing sites that offer specialized services based on your scope and budget. I once located a designer whose work I admired and service fee was within my budget. He sent his agreement and I provided my eSignature within minutes. Using eSignature puts more focus on value-added tasks and deliverables, and less time on administrative tasks that can turn into time wasters.

Client Documents

I also use eSignature when I need important documents signed or initialed. This is useful, especially during the hectic tax season. Part of my practice involves offering tax preparation services to my clients. I use secure cloud services and snail mail to receive clients’ tax documentation. Once I have processed, reviewed and sent the tax return to the client for approval, I begin the process of electronically filing their return. Before eSignature, I would have to fill out the e-file authorization form, print it, sign it and then send it to client, either by secure email or snail mail for them to sign it, scan, email or mail it back. Now, I send them the form so that they can provide their eSignature. This reduces time spent on small mail. I also use eSignature to obtain my clients’ initials for tax return approvals prior to submission. I sent them a tax summary with either the tax owed or refunded to them and requested their initials to ensure that I have all necessary documentation before submitting the return.

Implementing this process has reduced time spent coordinating schedules to meet face-to-face to review the return. My clients are able to preview a summary of their tax return before the process is completed and information is returned. Thus, the April 15 tax deadline has become a painless process as a result of eSignature.

Personal Paperwork

Not only can you employ eSignature to improve your practice, but you can also utilize eSignature in your personal life, when you have to sign important documents, such as mortgage loans. I was first introduced eSignature during the refinance process of my home loan. I first purchased my home in 2007, and the closing process was practically an all-day event. I had to block off several hours to review and sign the paperwork in person. I remember having a pain in my right hand because of all the paperwork! When I went through the refinance process five years later, I had no idea that the process had changed. I met the closing agent at the local Starbucks two minutes from my house after business hours. The only thing she brought with her was her tablet, which had all of the required documents loaded and ready for my review, and ultimately, my eSignature. Once we reviewed the documents, I provided my eSignature and she was able to send me the signed documents via secure email. The refinance process took no more than 30 minutes, in which the majority of the time was spent reviewing the documents, compared to several hours spent during my original closing process.

Go to eSignature and Never Look Back!

Adopting eSignature in both my practice and my personal life has drastically improved my lifestyle and helped me focus on what is important. I would encourage you to test out eSignature in ways that fit into your practice, so that you, too, can save time and help you work smarter, rather than harder.

Editor’s note: For more information on Intuit eSignature for Lacerte, click here; for ProSeries, click here.