A couple of years ago, the ability to sign documents digitally became more common, and the software evolved to allow documents to be easily moved from person to person without the need to print, sign or complete, scan, and email or fax back -- saves time, paper, and is convenient so it speeds up the process. All good so far! Then the software utilized for real estate contracts (ZipForms by ZipLogix) migrated to the iPad and other tablets so the process could be replicated from out in the field -- great concept, but poorly executed, unfortunately.
Standard contracts and documents that originate on the mobile device can be easily prepared for electronic signature and distributed to the appropriate people. But if a person or entity (escrow, for example) emails a document that needs to be e-signed by a client, the software has no way of importing the document into the application. Oddly enough, the desktop version of the software has that capability -- so if I'm in my office I can easily save the file in DropBox, import the document, set it up for electronic signatures, and send it on its way. But if I'm in the field, it becomes a cumbersome work-around process (but can be done). If the developers would simply build a link in the iPad software to access DropBox (sort of the de facto cloud-based file manager) then it would be the perfect solution. The work-around involves remotely controlling my laptop (assuming that it's on or hasn't gone to sleep), importing the document into the desktop version of the software, and then switching back to the iPad app to set up the document for electronic signatures. I've tried, unsuccessfully, a couple of iPad file manager apps that theoretically allow one to upload files from DropBox into iPad websites, but the contract software appears to be too "locked down" to allow it to function with these apps (iUpload and iCab).
To complicate matters, some companies (lenders and escrow companies in particular) are beginning to utilize encrypted email systems. So each email they send requires a login/password to the app to retrieve the email and/or attachment (oh joy!). If the email is in a PDF format, then it's usually not a problem (unless it's in the ever-annoying legal size - a blog for another day) -- but if in another format, EML, for example, then it must be opened in a 2nd app (Klammer). To compound the issue, many companies that send a lot of documents utilize high-speed scanners that push the documents out to their email system rotated 90 deg off of the standard portrait mode. So potentially a document must be opened from within a secure email environment (yet another login/password combo), downloaded to a 2nd app just to open it, and then re-opened from within a 3rd app (GoodReader) to rotate the document so it can be easily read and/or acted upon -- all of which is very time consuming. And if the document needs to be signed, then it has to be saved to DropBox, and the remote control process noted in the paragraph above paragraph has to be invoked. And then back to the iPad software to set the document up for electronic signature.
So the next time that you receive a document for electronic signature, know that it may have traveled through a few processes before it got to you -- but it sure is "convenient", ha ha!