Contributed article by: Ronnie Higgins Content Manager at Ayusa

Imagine for a moment you’re a German parent in the 1980s. You’ve just sent your teenage son or daughter across the Atlantic to study in the United States and for the next nine to ten months you’re limited to expensive long distance phone calls or short postcard updates to stay connected.

Now fast forward to the present. You’ve received an email during your child’s layover, liked a status update on Facebook and tucked them in via Skype – all in the first 24 hours.

Technology has advanced tremendously over the last 30 years and it has shaped the cultural exchange experience in unimaginable ways. While consumer-facing technologies have eased the anxiety of Ayusa’s participants, advancements in business technologies, such as DocuSign, have made the business of connecting people across cultures easier, faster and more secure.

Ayusa has been a leading sponsor of the U.S. Department of State high school exchange program since 1981. The strong connections we can foster between students, host families and their communities fill our souls every day – yet the necessary evil of extensive documentation can make this work far less exhilarating.

Operating a government-regulated program requires paperwork. Student applications, essays and visa documentation are shipped back and forth internationally from our San Francisco headquarters. Host family applications, evaluations and agreements arrive from all corners of America. Each document, some legally binding, necessitates significant resources to ensure they’re signed, stamped and delivered in a timely manner. When a signature is left off an application, it can cause our staff giant-sized headaches to guarantee our families and students never experience one.

Since the implementation of DocuSign for Salesforce, our process has improved immensely. Now when a student or family signs up for a life-changing experience with Ayusa, a trip to the FedEx office isn’t required. Their application and electronic signature are routed immediately into Salesforce for quick processing.

“It often took weeks to get sign off on required paperwork, now we’ve got it down to as little as 10 minutes.” – Dale Lampson, Director, New Business + Technology

The streamlined, fully digital process is not only faster and simpler – it’s safer too. DocuSign’s security standards meet and exceed those of international organizations, even banks and credit unions. This means our students and families can rest easy knowing the confidential information required from them is safe, immediately sent to the person who needs the information, and remains secure.

At Ayusa, DocuSign really is a gift that keeps giving. Its automated features not only save costs, they also save time. Our team spends less time thumbing through file cabinets because documents are now archived digitally and effortlessly. We take advantage of our saved resources to answer our family and students’ questions and provide quality support – often in person. When an Ayusa team member travels to spend time in our communities, it keeps our mission close to the heart.

Technology has rewarded our students, parents and staff with a peaceful, easy feeling. Thanks to DocuSign, Ayusa can concentrate more fully on making cross cultural connections that have the power to change the world. And that’s worth every penny – or Euro.