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UIT Partnership with EH&S Brings Huge Wins

Digital signature software transforms the inventory inspection process — leading to increased accuracy and efficiency
Wednesday, August 16, 2017

A recent partnership between the Department of Environmental Health and Safety (EH&S) and University IT (UIT) led to the rollout of new technology that resulted in time and money savings, and national recognition for process improvement.

The introduction of the Adobe Sign digital signature software package allowed EH&S to streamline and automate their arduous and error-prone paper inventory inspection process, leading to increased accuracy and efficiency.

"Our experience with UIT and utilizing Adobe Sign relieved a large burden from the administrative side of a very difficult project,” said Holly Deremo, a communications and marketing lead in EH&S. “The training and advice provided by UIT to help us get acquainted with the platform was a huge help that ultimately made our staff much more comfortable using the service.”

The inspection process

Federal regulations require research facilities that use controlled substances to undergo a strict inventory inspection every two years. Because of the vast amount of research performed at Stanford and the large number of labs that use controlled substances, the task of managing and organizing the inspection process is laborious.

The small Laboratory Safety Team in EH&S who is charged with this responsibility must process and submit a variety of signed forms within 24 hours of the completed inspection. Prior to this year, the team used handwritten, paper forms that were faxed back and forth to the necessary approvers at each lab. This process provided many opportunities for errors — illegible handwriting, names spelled incorrectly, mistakes on the forms — that often resulted in wasted time recreating forms.

UIT partnership creates process improvement

Deremo was aware of Adobe Sign, a digital signature software package, and reached out to Sameer Marella, senior director of Student, HR & Middleware Systems in UIT to ask if Stanford had a license agreement to use this software. A site license was available and Marella’s team began the process of implementing the software for EH&S.

Digital signature software offers an alternative to paper based forms. Instead of completing a form by hand, digital signature software allows users to create and complete forms electronically. After you have designated the approvers and the order in which they should receive the forms, the software then routes the forms to the necessary approvers, in parallel or serial order. The software also has a built-in tracking feature that can send notifications when a document is signed, and reminders when a document hasn’t been signed. Importantly, digital signatures meet legal requirements for government inventory inspections.

Marella’s team ensured that UIT made the technology available and easy to use for EH&S. From account setup, to template creation, to creating a workspace for collaboration among the team, the UIT team ensured that EH&S had the proper systems in place to be successful with the digital signature technology.

Having all the necessary documents created weeks before the inspection, the EH&S team worked with ease on the day of inspection. The Adobe Sign software automatically tracked who needed to complete and sign forms and routed the forms accordingly.

“After exploring digital signature technology to support a student artifacts project, I recognized that it might be useful in other areas of the university and asked the UIT Business Partners to help evangelize the use of this technology,” said Marella. “This service can bring great efficiencies to business processes while affirming our commitment to sustainability and paperless initiatives.”

Bonus award

In addition to the process improvement gains, EH&S also received the Campus Safety Health and Environmental Management Association Innovation Award because of this work. This national award honors the innovative achievements in process improvement at higher education institutions.

Learn more

To learn more about digital signature technology, see Digital Signature - Adobe Sign.

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