Here's the situation, I work for a large company as a Technical Consultant, we are about 2k employees worldwide.

Within the department I am part of, I am tasked to arrange for a supplier of ours to come in and deliver a specific service, they have sent us the contract to sign for the services. I am required to get two people's signatures to approve the budget for this.

My boss & team insist that all these contracts have to be printed out. So I have to go find the person and ask them to sign the papers.

To me this is outrageous and ridiculous, It makes me feel like we are still in the dark ages and there is no such thing as digital signatures or other methods to do this. I have tried suggesting signing digitally but both people said no to the suggestion.

How can I deal with this situation? And if handwritten signature is a must, shouldn't it be the responsibility of procurement or supplier analysts to do this? and not technical consultants?

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    Where are you and how developed are digital signature process in your country ? I'm in Belgium myself and digital signature is not the norm (yet) so most contracts are signed on paper, and still I don't have the impression to be in the "dark ages" because of that...
    – Laurent S.
    Commented May 13, 2019 at 10:45
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    Do you mean digital signature as signature you can add in Adobe Reader or Digital Signature as government witnessed legally binding signature that cost X amount of money and need to be verified and witnessed after certain time period? Commented May 13, 2019 at 10:52
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    When your company refuses to pay on grounds that the contract was not officially signed - will you pay the other company their money for work done out of your own pocket?
    – Solar Mike
    Commented May 13, 2019 at 11:32
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    Digital vs non-digital signature sounds like an organisational decision..... what makes you think that this is within your managers power to change? Commented May 13, 2019 at 12:01
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    The systems and people who demand such signatures are intrinsically change-averse. They'll cite some legal mumbo-jumbo, but it's really about a reluctance and fear of change. In most cases a pen-and-paper signature can be replaced with a digital one, but it does take work to switch-over and since that work is on their own ledger, it matters far more than the work you (and others) have to do to repeatedly physically hustle signatures on paper. That's just the way it is with bean-counters and legal departments, they'll only change when commanded to do so from above.
    – teego1967
    Commented May 13, 2019 at 12:41

1 Answer 1


There is a reason pen-and-paper signatures still exist

Pen-and-paper signatures are tried and true in court and can be extremely difficult to forge when no digital printing is involved. This is often not true of digital signatures. Depending on what you mean when you talk about digital signatures, different issues arise.

If you mean an image of your pen-and-paper signature or signing via a tablet, you often open yourself up to easy forgery. Literally any body with a) a copy of GIMP (free) and b) access to your signature in either paper or digital format can put your signature onto any document and make it look convincing. It's actually really easy!

If you mean cryptographic signatures, while those are not as easy to forge, it is also often hard to translate how this verifies the person signing it to older individuals still set in their ways. A pen-and-paper signature is visual verification, whereas a cryptographic signature is basically a popup box (to such individuals) that the reader may distrust because it is very unusual. It is also not as clear how legally binding a cryptographic signature can be in most jurisdictions yet.

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    There is also a cost associated with both pen and digital systems. This cost may (correctly or incorrectly) have been judged to be higher for digital signatures. Commented May 13, 2019 at 11:59

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