National Gas Network Links E-Signatures to its IT Infrastructure

The “Customer Spotlight” blog series shines a light on Docusign customers who are benefiting from accelerating their business processes with electronic signatures.

We were joined by an IT manager to hear how a national gas distributor is transforming the contract signing process with Docusign.

Can you tell us a little bit about your company and your responsibilities?

We provide the network that distributes natural gas to homes and businesses across Scotland and the South of England. I work in the department for IT business solutions. We manage business change requests that are looking to implement new applications to support existing processes or upgrade applications that we use to manage those processes.

My role is to act as project manager, business analyst, or resourcer. I support the recruitment of our personnel and help other team members collaborate across the IT department. If we have a project that needs to be executed quickly, I’ll join that project to manage the processes. I work with the different teams to evaluate their processes, establish which initial process they’d like to use Docusign for, and the reasons for that, and evaluate the potential benefits. I’ll also support the teams through training and onboarding.

How was your company previously signing documents?

We managed the contracts via paper, post, and a courier service, whereby we’d make copies and send them to the third party. The customer also needed to return the documents to us, and there might be a need for multiple signatories on every contract. Once returned, they were sent to the senior executive board to review and sign, and they go back to the administrators for the documents to be checked. Then they’re reissued back to the supplier. This process could take between eight and ten weeks.

We deal with a lot of third parties, so we have many contractual agreements in place to undertake repair and maintenance to the pipe network. We also do metering work for customers, such as installing new pipes. For example, if a new housing estate or business is built and there aren’t any pipes in that area, we would fit new piping to supply them with gas flow. Sometimes, we have up to 13 contracts with one supplier. That means 26 documents that one third party would need to sign; 13 contracts to cover the South and 13 to cover the North.

Why was it important to remove paper from the process with electronic signatures?

Essentially, we wanted to streamline our processes and get a fully auditable trail to ensure we’re being compliant with legislation. It’s crucial for us to demonstrate our compliance with legislation, not only internally, but to governing bodies like Ofgem. Our business is high risk and we must meet a lot of health and safety regulations.

We get audited regularly and, because of the tight control we must stay within, we’re implementing Docusign to enable us to manage those processes and demonstrate to governing bodies like Ofgem that we’re compliant. We can therefore avoid the risk of fines to the business.

When you were evaluating the different ways to address your paper-based challenges, was there anything particularly important to you?

Compliance and cost were our key drivers. The cost of printing documents, the backup of the photocopying, the filing and the storage. Electronic signatures provide huge savings from the reduction in stationary and courier costs, and although we don’t want to replace headcount, it will enable us to free up the headcount’s time, if you will, to undertake other work.

Another key driver is to manage our reputation. If we’re seen not to have something like Docusign in place, it could negatively impact the business. We also want to gain control over the management of our documents and the signatures we need, such as setting the signing hierarchy.

How did you first hear about Docusign?

I’ve worked with Docusign before, at my previous company. One of our IT Directors also saw the immediate impact that this application would have on our business and how it would help support us by streamlining our processes. And it just went from there.

I attended Docusign’s user conference last year. It was a good opportunity for the team to understand how other businesses have embedded Docusign e-signatures into their business and the benefits it gave them. So, that’s where it all began.

Have you projected any ROI from deploying e-signatures?

Commercial was the initial use case – one of its processes alone would deliver a cost-saving of £25,000 annually. But that’s only a small aspect of one of the processes the commercial team manages.

It’s had a huge impact on our productivity and freed up time for those people managing documents with potential employees or third parties. It enables them to spend time carrying out other activities rather than managing the paper trail.

You mention the desire to improve the experience of your stakeholders. Was that part of the consideration – to make it easier to transact with you?

Most definitely. It was frustrating for our third parties as well because they couldn’t engage with us until those documents had been signed and approved. We have even lost suppliers who didn’t want to wait to sign our contracts and they’ve moved on to accept business elsewhere.

Are other departments looking at electronic signatures within the business or is it solely within commercial IT?

We have one use case presently, but we’re planning to bring in HR to manage the recruitment process. When we’re recruiting personnel, it’s a very long, stringent process and due to the high-risk nature of our business, we undertake a lot of background checks on candidates. A lot of documentation needs to be supplied. Between the recruiting line manager, the liaison with HR, and the sign-off from the executive board to hire the candidate, it takes between six to eight weeks.

Another aspect is legal. Legal works with third parties to manage a paper trail. Once we have embedded Docusign within those departments, they will start to introduce more processes to electronic signatures.

The IT department is broken down into subdivisions, and the security department manages the contracts and ensures all our apps, whether online or on premise, are safe. We have a high level of security on our systems and we’re already looking to add more Docusign users to manage the policies and procedures for our security team.

Do you plan to integrate Docusign into the systems you are currently using?

Yes, within HR we’d like to put some APIs in place to link with the recruitment application we use to make the whole process digital. For example, when we post an advert for a job role, once the candidate completes the online application, we’d like them to provide all the supporting documents online.

Do you have any advice for those looking to digitise their processes with e-signatures?

Start off small and get used to managing the workflows. You can then look at identifying the next process that you want to digitise. Whilst we’ve only started off small, we knew this would be rolled out across the business as we see it benefitting a lot of our processes.

Thank you!

To see how Docusign can accelerate processes within your department, contact us.