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Before using the eSignature service to send or build documents owned by your unit, please review and consider this article's recommendations and guidelines and always be sure to consult with the appropriate administrator(s) in your unit and others, as needed, to decide if DocuSign is the proper solution. 

NOTE: Before you begin considering DocuSign usage, consult with your College or business unit Administrative Services Manager (ASM) who may be able to address your inquiry directly or can refer you to the appropriate administrator(s) in your unit. 

Determine If DocuSign is the Proper Tool

Take time to determine if DocuSign is a good fit for your needs, and if so, ensure appropriate eSignature planning and usage.

Some Basic Requirements

If your document activity meets the following conditions, Docusign may be the proper tool to use.

  • Use the campus' DocuSign service only for University business. The document signature and routing service is not intended for personal use. If you need to route a form for personal reasons, DocuSign offers personal accounts.
  • Route only those documents that belong to your unit. Don't build or send forms in DocuSign that are not owned by your unit. The decision to move to DocuSign is the responsibility of the owner of a given document, form, or process. You may wish to contact a document, form, or process owner to discuss and share your interest in their use of DocuSign, but unless your unit receives clear, documented consent from another unit's appropriate administrator(s), do not annex a document for DocuSign usage that you don't own.
  • Document routing is predetermined. The routing order for a DocuSign document must be known before it is sent. DocuSign is not able to send a document to different people based on conditional routing—that is, according to how different form-sections are completed.

Key Reasons to Consider Using DocuSign

  • Document activity meets "Some Basic Requirements" (above).
  • Process is repeatable, standardized.
  • Document requires secure, legal electronic signing inside and outside of CSULB.

Key Reasons NOT to Use DocuSign

  • Document activity does not meet "Some Basic Requirements" (above).
  • Document requires variable routing, complex roles, or fluid recipients.
  • Document requires significant editing or comments.
  • Signature needs to be "wet" or appear as if hand-written--precludes authentication trail.

Four Ideal Document-Types for Use with DocuSign Adaptation

  • A document completed in Microsoft Word that needs signatures from one to four specific people.
  • A form sent out regularly, where one to four recipients need to fill out some information and return it to you or your unit (with or without a formal signature).
  • A form currently available online as a PDF that users can download, complete, and turn in because they know who needs to sign the form and how to contact others for signatures. (User-initiated, self-service, predetermined routing)
  • A form with predetermined routing sent routinely to a large number of people for their completion on deadline and that requires (or could benefit) from tracking, reminders, or both. (Bulk sending)

How eSignatures Work for Simple Forms

  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 Sender's email

Ensure Appropriate eSignature Planning & Usage

After determining that DocuSign may be the proper tool for your document routing activity, ensure appropriate eSignature usage by reviewing recommendations about how to plan your DocuSign usage as well as understanding Acceptable Use Terms and key elements about DocuSign security and document purging.

Getting Started

  • Select simple forms: Work with your unit to identify a simple form to begin with. Simple forms are those sent to specific recipients for signatures and, if needed, the entry of some information. Building advanced forms requires more expertise in using DocuSign: Don't try tackling advanced forms until you or your unit's designee(s) gain proficiency with DocuSign.
  • Ensure your unit has specific owner(s) responsible for administering the electronic form(s) and process(es):  The eSignatures application is a self-supporting offering to the campus. While DoIT provides application funding, infrastructure, & access as well as introductory training about building forms, the vendor, DocuSign, provides the bulk of support resources for day-to-day system usage.
  • Conduct a risk review: To ensure legal compliance and reduce potential losses from improper electronic signatures, it is a good idea to evaluate the use of electronic signatures before implementation. Before your unit uses an electronic signature for a particular document or document process, your area's appropriate administrator(s) should review and approve its usage based upon considerations such as:
    • Likelihood of a successful challenge to the validity of the electronic signature.
    • Monetary loss, or other adverse impact, that could result from such a successful challenge to the enforceability of the electronic signature.
    • A particular use of an electronic signature solution should not constitute approval of other uses of an electronic signature solution or approval of the use of a different electronic signature solution.

Onboarding Steps – Develop & Execute a Plan for Your Organization

Develop an eSignature framework to determine which form(s) you'll prepare for an eSignature, who will send and manage the form(s), and internal processes to support the routing and signatures.

  1. After consulting with your ASM about DocuSign usage, assign technical and functional owner(s) for the form(s) and processes.
  2. Train: Assign document Sender(s) and Manager(s). Your Form Owner(s) can visit the DocuSign site for self-training about preparing a document for signature and uploading and sending it through DocuSign. DoIT offers introductory training for form building; contact DoIT-ServiceManagement@csulb.edu for information.
  3. Develop & Test documents:  Develop and test your forms to get a feel for how eSignatures sending and signing works and understand what your team will need to do to get your forms ready for eSignatures. (Don't conduct official University business as part of your document eSignatures testing.) 
  4. Build and Send official documents. Contact the DoIT-ServiceManagement@csulb.edu with questions about system access and referral to DocuSign materials for eSignature usage support.

Security & Legal Considerations

DocuSign is a legally binding and secure tool approved for use at CSULB. It provides full document encryption, a tamper-proof audit trail, redundant and geo-dispersed data centers, and is fully compliant with the ESIGN Act. Documents sent via DocuSign are encrypted both in transit and at rest. For more details, see information about Acceptable Use of Docusign at CSULB and the Security Information page on DocuSign's website.

Obtaining Authorized Signatures with DocuSign

CSULB maintains strict controls on document signing authority as described in this Signature Authority Guideline; only authorized personnel may sign contracts and other documents that legally bind the university. If, in the course of your work at CSULB, anyone asks you to sign a contract or legal document for CSULB, you should contact your administrator(s) or the University's Legal Counsel to determine if you have appropriate authority. In general, authorized use of DocuSign should be structured and handled in the same way as routing a paper document on campus:

  • Send or sign only DocuSign documents that you have the authority to send or sign via paper
  • Request signatures via DocuSign from individuals whom you have the authority to request their signature
  • Do not use DocuSign to countersign a contract or legal document that purports to be binding on the university, even if you have sent it out for signature through DocuSign, without first checking to see if you have authority to do so.
  • Obtain approval from third-party vendors before routing documents to them using Docusign.
  • Avoid building/sending forms in DocuSign that don't belong to your unit. With consent of the owner of a document process and with your complete understanding of the owner's accepted process for routing a document for signature approval, it may be acceptable to set up a DocuSign routing of another unit's document.
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