PaperTrail Sign: the Ideal Solution for Electronic Signatures

PaperTrail Sign is easy to use, secure and legally compliant Signing Solution for both our existing PaperTrail ECM users as well as clients who are only looking for the PaperTrail Sign platform without the ECM offering.

Any Signing Solution must comply with both SA Common Law as well as the ECT Act (Electronic Communications and Transactions Act 25 of 2002). PaperTrail complies with both of the above.

Electronic authentication involves using an electronic process to prove that someone is who they claim to be. PaperTrail relies on knowledge-based authentication – where the user and the system both know something, the system knows that information is associated with that user, and the user presents that knowledge to the system to authenticate themselves.

PaperTrail Signing Solutions are comprehensive and customisable

Hence our Signing Solutions can be tailor-made to fit specific business applications.

For example, a Sign Solution may entail never logging into the front-end of PaperTrail Sign but may rely on using the PaperTrail Sign API to integrate to a client back-end system where placing of electronic signature fields onto the client 3rd party PDF generation is the sole requirement.

In most instances, our API is typically used to integrate into the client’s back-end core systems where a Template or Wizard-driven input still forms the basis of the PaperTrail Sign solution.

PaperTrail Sign Parcel creation can be either ad-hoc or Template/Wizard based.

Where a structured document needs to be signed, the Sign Template approach is ideal, saving significant time and avoiding the repetitive creation of multiple fields which can easily be System driven.

Our PaperTrail Sign Module implements four different kinds of electronic signatures

  • Ordinary electronic signature – in the form of a signature block on an uploaded PDF document (or differing source file converted to PDF) where the person signing adds their signature by clicking on the signature block.
  • PaperTrail electronic solutions employ electronic authentication in the form of knowledge-based methods including email verification and passwords.
  • This is the most common type of electronic signature
  • Biometric signatures – in the form of a biometric signature pad
  • PaperTrail electronic signature solutions let you record biometrics (using signature pads) of people signing to provide forensic evidence for increased evidentiary weight.
  • Digital signatures – in the form of a digital certificate based on cryptography associated with the person signing (applying a browser-based digital signature using a browser plugin or hardware token to store a PKI private key)
  • PaperTrail electronic signature solutions let you deploy PKI Cryptographic authentication in the form of digital signatures and digital certificates
    • Advanced electronic signatures – in the form of a Class 4 Certificate issued by an accredited certificate authority (CA)
    • This works in the same way as a digital certificate, but the certifying authority is a specific organisation endorsed to issue advanced electronic signatures by the South African Department of Communications
    • An example of where an advanced electronic signature would be valid is in a contract of suretyship. Here you would use the PaperTrail Sign together with a digital certificate from an accredited certifying authority to apply the advanced electronic signature to validly sign an agreement containing a suretyship electronically. 
    • PaperTrail Sign licensing is only applicable to users who initiate the Document Parcel and send it out to Signatories for signature. Users do not require accounts to sign documents sent using the PaperTrail Sign Solution, only to send them.
    • The UI facing the parcel initiator is easy to use, typically not requiring any training.
    • A convenient visual workflow is presented at the top of the Papertrail Sign UI with tips presented to users during the design mode when preparing documents for signature.
    • To commence an Ad-Hoc Create Parcel an initiator simply adds the following items:
  • Signatory Name
  • Signatory Email
  • Mobile Number (used for two-factor authentication) if preferred
  • Signature Role – Sign (default), Approve, Notified

An easy-to-understand graphical Workflow is presented showing the Initiator process which includes the following:

  • Who needs to sign?
  • Which Documents?
  • Place Signatures
  • Pending Signatures

Assuming the initiator has added the signatories but not added the necessary Documents for signature, an alert will be conveniently displayed highlighting what needs to be done.

Certain easy-to-understand default options are presented together with Alternative Options listed.

Alternative options for example include the following:

  • All signatories are notified on completion
  • All signatories are notified of rejects
  • Signatories sign in a non-sequential order
    • Signatories sign their parcel
    • Signatories signing their own parcel has been added in conjunction with multiple recipients all needing to sign the same document.
    • For example, a POPI document needing to be signed by all staff can be easily achieved by selecting the options below
  • Signatories sign their own parcel and
  • Import Signatory List option

Once the document(s) to be signed that make up the parcel have been added the next final step is to Place Signatures onto the document(s).

PaperTrail Sign Design Mode launches and is now presented to the initiator.

There are a host of fields that can be selected to appear on the document(s) to be signed.

These fields include:

  • Signature
  • Initial
  • 3rd Party Signature (useful where Law requires the signing party to be in front of the initiating party)
  • Text field
  • Numeric Field
  • Multiline Text Field
  • Logo
  • Look Up Field
  • Label
  • Link
  • Grid
  • Checkbox
  • Radio Group
  • Date Picker
  • Dynamic Field
  • Hidden Field
  • Image Upload field
  • Document Upload Field
  • Field Template

The initiator drags the appropriate fields onto the document(s) to be signed.

The required fields are dragged onto the pages and sent out for Signatures.

At this stage, the Document Parcel is sent to the relevant Signatories either in the sequential (default) or non-sequential process as selected earlier.

The initiator can track the progress of the Parcel sent out for Signature via the PaperTrail Sign initiator Grid View.

A new feature allows the Initiator at a visual glance to see exactly which Signatories within each Document Parcel have Signed, Opened or not viewed the Parcel

The PaperTrail Sign benefits from our PaperTrail ECM Solutions and caters for powerful Searches including the following:

  • Text searching into the standard Search Box
  • Search inside documents (full text)
  • Tags that can be easily added to each individual Parcel
  • Filters including All, Me as Signatory, Pending Signatures, Signed, Rejected, Voided, Archived

A Usage Initiator Real Time Dashboard is also available from the UI and by default reports on the following:

  • Signatories per Day
  • Parcel Statuses – pending design, pending signatories, rejected, completed, voided
  • Who Created Parcels – by initiator name
  • Parcels by Day

Custom Dashboards can also be built

PaperTrail Sign also caters for Parcels to be sent out using sophisticated Templates for example when working with structured documents.

Templates can be intelligent and dynamic, with our Development Office available for the building of complex validations and or custom workflow

Another key aspect of the uniqueness of our PaperTrail Sign is the inclusion of both our PaperTrail Sign and PaperTrail ECM into one unified easy-to-use UI.

This allows our larger Corporate Clients to both manage their documents within the PaperTrail EDMS as well as have the capability of sending Parcels for Signature all available from within one single UI.

PaperTrail Sign is constantly evolving as we bring new functionality to this platform.

For example, the latest Sign release includes the following new features available as of July 2022:

Signatory Status 

The Sign Grid View now provides an easy visual presentation of the Parcel Status 

– Signatory Read the Parcel displayed in Blue 

– The signatory has not Read the Parcel displayed in Red 

– The signatory has Signed the Parcel displayed in Green 

Document humbnails and Drag and Drop 

Documents are now presented as thumbnails which makes easy re-ordering of documents for the Parcel 

Drag and Drop is now supported

Global email messages 

Email subject and body message for all signatories 

Customised email messages

Customised email messages for specific Signatories and Custom Body Messages can be easily added for specific Signatories

Read notifications

– Initiator now receives an email when Parcel is Read by the Signatory (can be enabled/disabled)

– All Signatories receive an email when Parcel is Signed by all (can be enabled/disabled) 

– Custom Signatory Reminders can be set for Individual Signatories 

Download Parcel in Zip or PDF format

The initiator can now choose to download signed parcels in either ZIP or PDF Formats 

PDF Download will merge all documents in the Parcel into a single PDF document

ZIP format will keep all documents in the Parcel as separate documents 

Reject to Sign Notifications

All Signatories who have previously signed the Parcel can now be notified if the following Signatory Rejects to Sign 

Import Signatory List

Allows for easy sending of the same Parcel to Multiple Signatories.

Signatories Sign their own Parcel 

This allows the Initiator to create one Parcel to be sent to a large number of Signatories to all sign their own individual Parcel. Custom Scripts can be added to for example use the individual Signatory Name within the document 

Document Tags

A separate option for Document ‘Search’ Tags is now available 

Adding/Deleting Signatories whilst Parcel in Transit

Add or delete Signatories before Parcel has been completely signed 

File Formats extended

Supported formats now include PDF, MS WORD, MS EXCEL, PNG, JPEG/JPG, GIF 

Combination of PaperTrailSign with PaperTrail EDMS

For Clients needing to combine Sign and EDMS, one seamless package with one UI is now available for both Sign and EDMS functionality. Please contact your Account Manager for more details on this new feature

About PaperTrail 

PaperTrail began in 1998 with a need to provide an alternative to paper-based content management in an organisation. PaperTrail is the ECM system of choice for IT professionals and project managers who are looking for a robust, flexible, scalable and affordable document solution. PaperTrail offers complete document lifecycle management (DLCM) for organisations of any size. It supports business-critical processes such as HIPAA, SOX, FDA 21 CFR Part 11 and ISO 9001:2008 standards compliance requirements.

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Where to find us

Johannesburg Office

138 Athol Street,
Highlands North,
Tel: 011 880 4411

Cape Town Office

Unit 5,
10 Park Lane, Grosvenor Square,
Century City, Cape Town
Tel: 021 913 1221

Durban Office

59 Aberdare drive, Industrial Park, Phoenix, Durban, 4051
Tel: 031 508 1520

Ghana Office

Empower Suites, 8th Floor, Block A, The Octagon, Barnes Road, Central Accra, Ghana
Tel: +233 261 878 023

New Zealand Office

23 Piwakawaka Court, Rototuna, Hamilton, New Zealand 3210
Tel: +64 (0)21 646 767 OR
+64 (0) 2239 27507


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