Skip to Navigation
University of Pittsburgh
Print This Page Print this pages

January 5, 2017

Technology Corner


DocuSign digital signatures

If you have ever had to guide a document through an approval process requiring multiple signatures from different people in various locations, you know what a challenge it can be. It may involve printing and faxing paper forms, paying for overnight shipping costs, dealing with delivery delays or lost paperwork, and managing documents that need to be rerouted because one of the approvers accidentally left a required field blank.

The good news is that the University provides an enterprise digital signature service called DocuSign that allows you to send, sign and manage documents electronically.

More than 3,200 documents at the University were sent with DocuSign in the past three months. DocuSign is available at no cost to all University faculty and staff and can be used for both internal and external University business.

Why digital signatures?

One of the main benefits of an electronic digital signature service is that it can significantly reduce the turnaround time required to obtain signatures, especially when conducting long-distance or time-sensitive business.

It also can streamline your workflow processes. For example, if three people need to sign a document in a specific sequence, you can tell DocuSign to route the document to each person in the order you specify and only after the previous person has signed the document.

Conversely, if a document just needs to be signed by three people in any order, DocuSign can send the document to all three individuals at the same time.

You also can make some document actions required to ensure that an approver doesn’t forget to “initial here” or “sign and date there” before returning the document.

You can save time on frequently repeated processes by creating templates in DocuSign. For example, if faculty in your department regularly apply for instructional grants or other types of funding, you could create a generic funding request template that anyone in your department could customize for their specific funding needs.

If a large group needs to approve a document, you can upload a separate recipient list rather than entering all the recipients in DocuSign. If one of your recipients simply needs to acknowledge a document without signing it, you can add them to a carbon copy role within the DocuSign workflow.

In addition to providing benefits for you, enterprise digital signatures also support the University’s sustainability efforts by reducing paper consumption.

Security and portability

DocuSign utilizes Pitt Passport, the University’s secure single sign-on service, which means all you need to log in is your University computing account username and password. DocuSign also meets stringent U.S. and global security standards and provides full document encryption.
Signatures created in DocuSign are legally binding and in compliance with the United States Electronic Signatures in Global and National Commerce (ESIGN) Act. The University’s Office of General Counsel has identified DocuSign as the only approved electronic signature service for the University of Pittsburgh.

One of the most convenient features of enterprise digital signatures is that you don’t have to be sitting at your desk (or even in an office) to sign a document. Mobile apps for Android, iOS and Windows devices allow you to review and sign documents on your phone or tablet, no matter where your work or research might take you. DocuSign also integrates with other enterprise collaboration services at Pitt, including and Office 365.

When a document has been signed and completed by all parties, it is stored securely in the cloud. Instead of sifting through a filing cabinet to locate past contracts or agreements, you can search quickly for them online and access them from anywhere.

Getting started

Enterprise digital signatures can be used to enhance a wide variety of processes that would otherwise require a pen-and-paper signature.
Whether you work with vendor contracts, interdepartmental contracts, applications for grants and other funding, consent forms, negotiated agreements, forms required to grant access to University systems or other types of approval processes, DocuSign can help make your life a little easier. One of the first departments at Pitt to adopt DocuSign was the Office of Research, which is working toward using it to streamline obtaining certain types of interdepartmental signatures.

You can take advantage of DocuSign’s many benefits today. Log in to and click the DocuSign link in the right-hand column. You’ll find a wide range of training videos and quick start guides at to help get you up and running with the service.

We can help you better understand how DocuSign can address your department’s specific needs and streamline your workflows. If you would like to learn more, contact me at to schedule a consultation.

Andrew Labuda is a service owner in CSSD, helping to assess and address the Pitt community’s needs regarding, SharePoint and other collaboration services.

Leave a Reply