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Collect data and signatures progressively

When building an Anvil Workflow, some scenarios might require multiple Webforms, where each Webform is completed by a different party. Each party needs to provide information, as well as signatures. For example rental agreements, hiring documents, contracts, etc.

In a traditional Anvil Workflow, signers must wait for all Webforms to be completed before they can sign. This is the ideal flow for many scenarios and is often the most straightforward implementation.

Some scenarios with forms like the I-9 are better suited for a progressive signing flow. Rather than waiting for all portions of the document to be completed before everyone signs, progressive signing allows each party to operate on their own timelines. For example, if one party has enough information to complete their portion of the documents, but the other party doesn’t, the first party can finish and sign their portion of the document without waiting for the other party.

Please note that progressive signing is only available on enterprise plans.

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You can control the order in which Webforms are completed and signatures are requested with progressive signing.

In this article, we’ll cover:

Traditional vs. progressive signing

The main difference between traditional and progressive signing is timing. When is someone asked to sign and how does this work in conjunction with when they’re asked for information?

We’ll go over specific examples shortly, but the main thing you’ll want to consider when deciding which signing method to use is whether or not new information is learned, or needs to be gathered after the initial person provides their information. For example, did the initial person pass an ID check, has an employment start date been solidified,etc?

The timing of the new information is critical when determining which signing method is best suited for your particular Anvil Workflow because it can affect whether or not the later party, or parties, can or should begin their portion of the documents.

Traditional signing

With traditional signing flows, regardless of whom information is gathered from, all signing parties must wait for the form to be fully completed before they can sign.

Consider a rental agreement. A landlord will fill in the form, including information such as the date, their name, the tenant’s name, the address, the lease term, rent, etc. After the form is filled out, the tenant and the landlord will both sign.

A flow chart depicting a traditional signing flow, with one party entering information and two parties signing Traditional signing: Single party fills a Webform and signs, later parties must wait to sign

In the case of a mortgage application, two parties (the applicant and co-applicant) need to fill in information like their names, date of birth, address, occupation, income, etc. Once the form has been filled out, both parties can sign.

A flow chart depicting a traditional signing flow, with multiple parties providing information, and waiting until all webforms are complete before they can sign Traditional signing: Multipe parties fill in Webforms, all parties must wait until all Webforms are compelte to sign

Progressive signing

With progressive signing flows, an initial party provides information and signs. Then another party can provide their own set of information and sign- often much later or pending some new information in between.

The end result is a fully completed form with multiple signatures, however neither party needs to wait for one another before providing signatures. Think of government forms that have a section marked ”To be completed by an agent”.

A great example of this is a USCIS I-9 form. For those that are unfamiliar, an I-9 form is an employment eligibility verification form consisting of an employee and employer section. Employees must fill out their own portion and sign before employers can fill out their section. Since the information provided by the employer is separate from the employee, it doesn’t make sense for the employee to have to wait for the employer to finish before they can sign.

This reduces the risks with having to track people down later for signatures since it allows each party to complete their paperwork whenever it makes the most sense for them, and not someone else.

A flowchart depicting a progressive signing flow, where each party provides information and signatures without having to wait for other parties Progressive signing: Each party fills and signs their portion of the document on their own timeline

Additional notes

It’s also important to note that regardless of which signing method you choose, your Workflow isn’t completed until your documents are signed by all parties. If your first party has already signed, but your second party hasn’t, the document isn’t considered legally binding yet.

If your particular situation doesn’t dictate one or the other, you might just choose the simplest implementation method.

Setting up progressive signing in a Workflow

To set up progressive signing, you need to have first set up multiple Webforms and signers. Once you’ve create your Webforms and signers, setting up progressive signing is a breeze:

To do this:

  1. Navigate to your Workflow
  2. Select the PDF editor tab in the top toolbar
  3. Click the Signers tab in the PDF editor panel to the right
  4. Select the Advanced settings The advanced signers settings are found at the bottom right of the Signers tab
  5. Click the dropdown menu under Signature Events
  6. Select Between webform completions By default, the Between webform completions is the second option in the signature events dropdown menu
  7. Click and drag the move icons to the right of each signer to determine when signers will sign The move icons are found to the immediate right of each signer and Webform option
  8. Save

Note: Progressive signing is only available on enterprise plans.

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