"Сonfirmed by a signature" — custom digital signing of documents in Bitrix24
12 September 2022next article
E-signature (or Electronic Digital Signature — EDS) has a very complex definition in WIKI, but its purpose is clear to everyone — it is a way to confirm your awareness, involvement and acceptance of various, again, electronic documents. It has the same legal force as a real signature, and the availability of the Internet and special services allows you to sign the necessary documents in a matter of seconds both in close proximity to a person and at a distance of other continents. One of Aviva's clients from North America wanted to expand the functionality of their Bitrix24 by customizing the use of digital signatures for standard documents. Our team implemented, and even shortened, at the request of the customer, the entire technical task. Let's see how it works.
What shall I do?
Our customer's business involves signing certain documents in accordance with official requirements. Already in the 21st century, the company abandoned paper media, giving preference to electronic document management and Bitrix24 CRM system. Our specialists faced the task of making possible the use of an electronic digital signature by the company's clients, as well as the final approval of the finished document by a responsible employee. The business process involved one or two signatories. But it is worth understanding that there can be any number of such people.
The creation of standard documents should be done by the Bitrix24 generator, not the secretary; the signing process is recorded in the History of the CRM lead card, and the result is forever attached to the history of interaction with this person. We execute.
E-signature service selection
Since virtual signatures are a serious matter, they are handled by appropriate resources. Cryptographic algorithms for creating a signature are very complex, but in this case we have nothing to do with it: the main thing is to choose a mechanism for obtaining the correct digital signature from the client. Initially, the choice fell on the DocuSign service and we spent a lot of time studying its API for integration with Bitrix24. However, during the project, the customer changed his mind and had to consider another system — HelloSign, which provided similar services but differed in methods. It should be noted that only their testing is free for all services: if you want to use electronic signatures, you need to be prepared that you will have to pay for it. In return, we receive guarantees of service provision and confidentiality of information, which is also important.
Of course, there are many similar services with which you can connect your activity. However, they all differ in functionality and learning the API of each new system will take developers' time.
Implementation in Bitrix24
We "partnered" HelloSign with Bitrix24 and started developing a user interface for the on-premise edition. A custom button to send the document for signature appeared in the document generator. We have also created an additional pop-up for the user, where it is possible to select signatories and their contact details.
This became possible thanks to the function of linking to the essence of "Lead", "Contact" and "Company". Thus, the responsible employee must first fill in the fields in the lead card with the necessary entries. When sending, the name and surname for a person (Contact) or name for a legal entity (Company) will be displayed in the popup. We also took care of choosing the right e-mail address of the signatory, because there can be several of them. Let me remind you that the terms of reference provided for a maximum of two signatories, but there can be as many as you like.
And when everything necessary is selected, we send the document for signature. At this time, the following occurs:
Our document will be directed to the signature of the first signatory on the list. From Bitrix24, it travels through the API to the HelloSign service, information about this is displayed in the timeline of the lead card;
A letter with a notification about the need for a signature and a link to go to HelloSign comes to the indicated e-mail address of the signatory. We set the text of the letter ourselves in the settings;
The signatory follows the link and signs the document. HelloSign adds another page with hash data and signature validation;
An entry appears in the timeline, and the responsible employee receives a message that the first signatory has completed his work. And if it was the first and only one, the document is already returned to Bitrix24 for visa. If there are two signatories, he goes further;
When the second signatory has put the EDS, the person in charge receives a second message that everything is ready. Now he can seal the document with his own signature, after which the PDF file with the verification letters from HelloSign is fixed in the card of the specific lead.
This is what the process looks like for the specific order described. It is worth noting that the custom button to send the document for signature is also present in the timeline. In this way, the person in charge can start the procedure at almost any time when he is in the lead card.
Several features emerged as secondary but useful results of the case study. Two of them were approved and accepted by the customer, and one was rejected during testing for his own reasons — perhaps to reduce the human factor in the overall process.
Automatic date setting. The HelloSign service allows the signer to change their name or company name at the time of signing. However, the date when this happened is automatically substituted. In this way, signing the document, as they say, "retroactively" will not work.
Filling in check boxes. In some documents, there are points that must be noted in each individual case. Each of the check boxes is associated with fields in the properties of the lead, and the responsible employee can put or remove the necessary "checkmarks" at the stage of signing the document;
Re-send for signature. Initially, after the first of the two signatures, the person in charge received a notification in Bitrix24, where he could either accept the signature or resend the document. Later, the customer asked to reduce this possibility and now the document goes directly to the next signatory after the first.
I showed a case of a ready-made extended functionality for the on-premise edition of Bitrix24. Unfortunately, it will not be possible to repeat such a one-to-one in the cloud. In this case, you will need to write a separate application that will work independently of the Bitrix24 document generator. In any case, electronic digital signatures are the future, which means that appropriate solutions will be needed. And our team is ready for their development.
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