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“Oner di firma”: a task to forget

  • On 24 June 2021

The expression “signature honor” has its roots in the Middle Ages: already a thousand years ago there was a strong need to lighten the authentication procedure linked to the seal, a way of proving the veracity of a document, which has its roots in ancient Mesopotamia: the authority of the moment defined its distinctive characters, engraved them on a stone support and, through this, embossed them in relief, generally in clay, on official documents. The seal, in this way, also had the role of preventing the opening of the papyrus, in the specific case, or of the document, in later times, to which it was affixed: the need for security was very clear since the times of the Sumerians (remember this , please, to colleagues who leave post-its on the screen of their workstation with the passwords of their users …). Subsequently, the civilizations of metal and the ability to treat resins (bio ancestors of plastic), already in Roman times introduced the annulus, which is not a dirty word, but the seal ring with which the authorities stamped their consent or refusal. (through sealing wax) to official documents. Specious procedure: engrave the initials or the identification symbol on metal, in a clear way, having to get some sealing wax, melt it in the right quantity so that it does not “flood” the document and is however clearly legible, clearly imprint the effigy engraved on the seal, hope that extreme weather conditions (too hot or too cold) or the simple jolts associated with the trip did not alter the seal, invalidating the document it was associated with.


Hence the need to find a more “streamlined” and reliable procedure; the solution was born, as anticipated, around 1088 in the Learned Bologna, seat of the first University of Europe (and therefore, probably, of the world) as well as the mother of the first notarial system; public officials (the notaries in fact), certified how the authority on duty signed his name with an agile stroke of the pen: signature, from “firmus”, firm firm, in Italian, signature, from “signum”, seal precisely, in idiom of the “perfidious Albion”. It was enough to replicate the ink “deposited” on a document for it to be valid. For the podestà on duty, it was sufficient to deliver his autograph signature to the notaries present within the department pertaining to him; after which he could easily affix it to official documents, trusting, for safety, in the widespread illiteracy or in the use of coded containers (the real version of the cryptex invented by Dan Brown, so to speak).



A little less than a thousand years have passed since then and we, with the speed that distinguishes our civilization, have run far behind the Sumerians. You read that correctly: compared to the technology we have available, today’s average way of managing signature affixing is nothing short of prehistoric (without wanting to disrespect the civilizations of the fertile crescent). We have IT architectures and equipment that would allow us, for example, when an individual makes an online purchase, to start a drone in the warehouse closest to the place where the requested goods are present, load it on a truck, and deliver it to the transporter, on an electronic device, the delivery note and the route to reach the buyer’s home; but if within this flow there are internal approval signatures, very often the procedure involves printing the document, signing, scanning, in order to continue the IT process. We access our mobile devices or laptops by fingerprint or facial, but to sign an invoice we have to replicate the aforementioned “cinema”.

Treccani, under the heading “Signature”, among the various phrases reports:

per onor di f o della f., di cose che si fanno malvolentieri, solo per non mancare alla parola.”

Signature burden, therefore, what continues to be an approval in our evolved digital system.

Fortunately, several actors have grasped this inconsistency; DocuSign, one of the current market leaders in the field of solutions for the integration of electronic signatures in IT processes, recalls how complicated it is to manage the signature in an approval flow:

And it also provides a graphic view:

Partial conclusions of may think; legitimate objection, but dismantled by Forrester:

As anticipated, DocuSign has grasped from the beginning the inadequacy represented by the procedures of affixing a signature in the flows both within the individual company and in its relations with customers and suppliers.

With its Cloud solution, it first rationalized, simplified and standardized the procedure:

Then it was concerned with the integration with the main players on the market:

The issue of security is also central (the notary who certifies the signature), for which different levels of authentication are proposed according to the needs, from the easier AES (Advanced Electronic Signature), ideal for internal approval flows, to the QES (Quality Electronic Signature), a complete solution that also covers the needs of having legally recognized signatures.

Why integrate the electronic signature into business flows, as well as to avoid being cavemen, DocuSign reminds us every time an approval procedure is completed:

Amazonia and future generations thank you. SAP, which has always been attentive to environmental aspects as well as to collaboration with those who develop valid and “green” solutions, provides the “SAP Signature Management by DocuSign” solution: https://www.sap.com/italy/products/electronic-signature-management.html This component allows “360 degree” integration with any component of the SAP Suites (DocuSign Agreement Cloud offers more “limited” solutions).

PL3 & Partners has fully understood the potential and the need related to these solutions, committing itself to acquire the skills necessary for their implementation.

PL3 & Partners, does not offer only theoretical expertise: what we propose is exactly what we use for our internal systems.

PL3 & Partners is the ideal partner to identify the best solution for each specific case: we are a System Integrator who aims to support its partners in the best way to seize the increasingly varied opportunities offered by SAP, whether it be for implement the new, whether the need is to adapt the existing one. As usual, we are not looking for the ideal solution, but the ideal solution for you.

For any information you can contact us at marketing@pl3group.com


Giorgio Morlacchi

SAP System Administrator