The Middle Child of Digital Transformation: The Productivity Powerhouse of PDF Editors and eSignatures

When we talk about digital transformation, advanced technologies like artificial intelligence and intelligent automation often steal the limelight. Don’t get me wrong – they both bring a lot of value and certainly accelerate the digital transformation journey.

But there’s an often-overlooked aspect of transformation. It’s not as flashy as AI, and it doesn’t sound as exciting as intelligent automation. However, it deserves just as much attention because it serves as a stable force constantly propelling companies further toward their transformation goals. 

I’m talking about good old-fashioned productivity. 

And it’s finally getting its due. While business productivity has always held a spot on the list of goals for companies, the shift to hybrid work, supply chain issues and labor shortages have moved it into the spotlight. 

One area getting a lot of attention when it comes to improving productivity is document collaboration. Many businesses and departments (from legal to accounting and even design) deal with complex documents and contracts which require collaboration and sign-off from people in different business units, external partners, and clients. 

This type of workflow is hard to automate because each instance typically has unique requirements. There’s just too much variation in the content or workflow to standardize the process steps or leverage machine learning. 

But there are desktop tools and cloud services that can facilitate these interactions. Specifically, modern PDF editors equipped with advanced features like eSignatures boost productivity and improve the employee experience, while simplifying (and accelerating) workflows. 

With the right document manipulation tools in place, the productivity middle child is finally able to take center stage and show what it can do. 

6 Reasons PDF Editors Deserve Your Attention 

  1. Visibility: Document workflows are often cumbersome and slow, with little visibility into progress once the document leaves your organization. With a PDF editor, you have access to the document at all stages. 
  1. Efficiency: The people involved in reviewing and signing contracts and other important documents are highly skilled (and expensive) resources. A PDF editor lets them review and sign documents when it’s convenient, so you pay for less of their time and avoid scheduling headaches. 
  1. Simplicity: A PDF editor is easy to set up and use, keeping your workforce productive without placing an added burden on IT resources for implementation and maintenance. 
  1. Speed: Collaboration on documents – including reviewing, editing, redlining and even signing – fast and simple. 
  1. Trust: When you can guarantee the identity of people signing documents, your contracts and other PDFs are legally binding and valid. 
  1. Data protection: The ability to ensure only the correct information is shared and personal information is protected reduces the risk of a data breach or GDPR violation.

This combination of benefits makes a PDF editor a productivity powerhouse, and organizations are already seeing boosts in efficiency. 

A small law firm had to switch to electronic filing of documents per a state mandate. The firm opted for a fully featured yet cost-effective PDF editor equipped with electronic signatures and sign-and-fill capabilities. Now, client intake and e-filing with the state are easier than ever, and compliance isn’t an issue. They also provide better service to their clients, miss fewer deadlines, and have more accurate digital paperwork. 

Another law firm was frustrated with the slow performance and lackluster features of its current PDF software. They moved to a modern solution that can open large files quickly. Employees can also save PDFs directly into their document management system and convert PDFs into “live” files for the collection of digital signatures. Operational efficiency increased with minimal training required. 

Qualities of a Powerful and Reliable Solution

How can you make sure your PDF editor won’t be ignored or left in the corner? The right solution will be used by your team day in and day out to get more work done, faster and more efficiently. 

It should offer a variety of tools when it comes to editing and reviewing, and it should be able to convert PDF files to and from Word, Excel, PowerPoint, JPG and HTML. Integration with document management systems like SharePoint and security features such as encrypted passwords and permissions are also important.

Those looking for maximum productivity gains should also keep an eye out for the following capabilities:

  • Built-in collaboration tools: When users can easily add comments, red-line contracts, and highlight important information with an easy-to-use interface, employees can collaborate with each other, partners and clients from anywhere. 
  • Simple automations: The ability to apply a set of stored operations to one or more PDF documents saves time while enhancing security. Look for a solution that enables you to build and reuse simple workflows to add watermarks, redact sensitive information, or remove comments in batches. 
  • Information collection: While we’d all love forms to just go away, it isn’t going to happen. A powerful PDF editor can take any PDF and create a fillable form so it’s easier to collect information. Added functionality like customization of forms and the capability to combine forms with other PDF documents to create packets for employees and clients are additional time savers. 
  • eSignatures: The shift to hybrid work has made the move from wet signatures to digital ones even more important. The ability to add legally binding digital IDs and signatures to documents keeps documents moving through the proper chains, regardless of where each party involved is located.  
  • Certificates for eSignatures: It’s not enough to be able to add digital signatures. You have to be able to identify the signing parties, prove they’re the ones who actually signed, ensure the document can’t be changed after it’s signed, and that it’s legally valid. Digital certificates use globally agreed-upon technology to address these issues, so it’s best to look for a PDF editor that’s easy to configure with a certificate from a Certificate Authority.  
  • Live document collaboration sessions: When users can collaborate on a document in real time from any location, it’s a productivity dream. When evaluating this feature, however, make sure the solution will automatically delete the PDF from the server as soon as the collaboration session ends for maximum security. 

Productivity is no longer a boring, overlooked goal. Modern PDF editors with eSignatures and a robust feature set boost productivity and efficiency and move this former middle child of digital transformation to favorite child status.

By Irene Hwa, Senior Director of Field Marketing Asia Pacific & Japan at Kofax

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