Polish companies know e-signature, but do not take a systemic approach to paperless tools

Polish companies know e-signature, but do not take a systemic approach to paperless tools

Over 90% of employees of companies in Poland are aware that an electronic signature can be used to sign a document with the same legal force as a handwritten signature. However, less than half of the companies decided to implement systems enabling digital signing and document circulation, according to the report “Business in the paperless era. Are we ready for it?” prepared by Asseco Data Systems. This is the first report in Poland to examine paperless processes in Polish enterprises on such a large scale.

The area of research was the knowledge of managers of Polish companies on solutions that allow to eliminate paper documentation. The degree of their use in Polish companies was also studied. Seven sectors which are characterized by the need for multiple signatures and document exchange in the area of internal processes and between the company and its clients  have been selected: franchise retail chains, private health care, debt collection and management companies, loan companies, developers and TV service providers. Due to the large presence of already implemented paperless services, the financial and telecommunications sectors were omitted.

Do we know what the e-signature is used for?

According to the report, there is a very high awareness of the possibility of using electronic signatures in Polish companies. Nearly 92% of respondents are aware that all documents, both internal and external, can be signed digitally, achieving the same legal effect as in the case of a traditional signature. In practice, however, companies do not use e-signature in areas where legal regulations do not impose it, as in contacts with the Social Insurance Institution and the Tax Office. 53% of companies have solutions allowing them to sign documents digitally. Most often they involve only selective processes, rarely referring to a company-wide policy of eliminating paper documents.

Motivation to implement paperless tools

The two most important factors determining the implementation of a paperless solution in a company are the scale of problems that can be solved with a specific solution and the scale of expected benefits reflecting them. Among the most common challenges that companies want to face using paperless tools are:long time of execution of key procedures, high cost of paper documentation management and inefficiency of systems and processes existing at the company. Representatives of individual sectors also declared that the motivation to implement improvements is the fact that their competitors have done so. The type of implemented solutions depends on the specificity of the industry. Franchise networks introduce, among others, on-line order platforms and automate settlements with franchisees. The health care service needs tools for the efficient transfer of medical records between facilities as well as in contacts with patients. Courier companies use a digital signature in the process of collecting shipments. Electronically signed contracts are used in the loan and debt collection industry as well as among TV service providers. At the same time, the research showed that only 1/3 of companies understand the term paperless as eliminating paper documentation at all stages of the business process.

 “Each industry has its own specifics and potential. Regardless of that, each sector can implement tools that will reduce paper documentation and speed up its processes” – said Artur Miękina, Key Projects Sales Director at Asseco Data Systems.

Barriers to the implementation of paperless tools

The report shows that Polish companies do not take a systemic approach to innovation. As many as 84% of companies have not reserved any funds for implementing new technological improvements.  Only 16% of the surveyed respondents declared that their budgets contain provisions directly reserving funds for implementation of innovative solutions. At the same time, all the companies surveyed were enthusiastic about innovations, admitting that they are necessary. What, then, is a real obstacle to their implementation on a larger scale? The largest companies indicated as a problem not the lack of resources for new implementations, but the lack of appropriate competences. Polish companies lack people who could estimate the costs of implemented innovations, estimate the savings they will generate and plan the entire process. A digital transformation division operates in only 3% of the companies. Most often, in 45% of cases, it is the management board that decides on implementation. In every fourth company (24.2 %) the IT department is responsible for these areas, in 12 % it is the operations division. In 15% of the surveyed enterprises there is no person who could take over responsibility for the process of innovation implementation.

Do companies plan to implement paperless tools?

In nearly 80% of cases, the positive effects of implemented innovations drive further decision-making processes. The companies that have positively evaluated the effects of the previous projects are planning further implementations in the future. 36% of the companies plan to implement the paperless solution within the next two years. Among the companies interested in eliminating paper documentation, 22.7% are companies that have no previous experience with such solutions. They account for 8.3% of all surveyed companies. The vast majority of the companies that have such plans (77.3%) have already implemented tools allowing for signing documents digitally. This group constitutes 28% of all surveyed companies. Implementations are usually planned in the area of internal processes. Next, the payment processing and contracts with customers were indicated.

“There is a growing need to improve and properly secure circulation processes. Modern solutions enable electronic signatures to be made using mobile devices such as a smartphone or a tablet. This makes the existing systems of documents circulation  more efficient to such a degree, that their users cannot imagine returning to previous solutions. Looking at the prospect of further digitization of the market and our society, we are convinced that electronic signature will be a key element of the document circulation ecosystems”. – said Tomasz Litarowicz, Director of the Security and Trust Services Division at Asseco Data Systems.

40% of the surveyed companies do not plan to implement innovative electronic signature solutions within the next two years. Among these companies, some (43%) declared that they already use solutions allowing for electronic signing of documents. The remaining 57% , i.e. 22.8% of the total surveyed population does not use and does not intend to implement such solutions in the nearest future.

Research methodology

The test was conducted using quantitative and qualitative techniques. In the quantitative part, the survey was carried out based on the largest companies from the sectors indicated by the Customer. The sample was N=300 interviews. In the qualitative part, interviews were conducted with the leaders of each sector. The sample was N=30 in-depth interviews. The respondents were directors/managers from the operational level or specialists dedicated to the digital transformation process. The research was conducted in January and February 2020.