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Cats Protection, formerly the Cats Protection League, is a UK charity dedicated to rescuing and rehoming stray, unwanted or homeless cats and educating people about cats and cat welfare.

Use this Guide to learn how to use Adobe Acrobat Sign to collect signatures and handle digital paperwork. It shows you how many different parts of your process Adobe can help with.

Steps to using Adobe products to create a process for collecting and storing forms and signatures

There are three main reasons for deciding to collect online signatures:

  1. You legally need a signature, and an e-signature is acceptable

  2. You don’t legally need a signature, but you want people to feel the weight and importance of a decision. You think that a signature rather than a tick box will help that.

  3. You want to reduce paperwork and printing out forms. Or you want to reduce the risks of storing and moving around paper documents.

The COVID-19 pandemic stopped Cats Protection's face-to-face usual rehoming methods but they still had thousands of cats that needed new homes.

Too much paperwork would put off potential adopters, preventing cats from finding new owners and leaving less room for new rescues. But some paperwork is crucial to the adoption process.

Since the pandemic, Cats Protection continue to use the online process - as it helps cats go to their new homes faster. It also makes it easier to store documents and share them with team members that need to see them.

Do you need forms to be completed as well as a signature? Do you have information that you need to share with the people completing the forms?

Consider related needs as well. Where do you store signatures once you have them? How do you share information provided in the forms?

Cats Protection reviewed their forms with some of their branches. They also involved their legal team and - once they had chosen a software provider - explored good practice with them as well.

  • Most people will want a software tool that offers form creation and design as well as e-signature collection.
  • You may also want an online storage system.
  • You might need different levels of permission for different people - creating forms, sharing existing forms or signing forms.

Cats Protection looked into Adobe products (Sign and Acrobat working together in a high level package) and a competitor Docusign.

They liked Adobe because:

  • They had a very high number of forms/signatures to process per year and Adobe pricing on an Enterprise Term License Agreement account is per transaction - with lower fees per transaction at higher usage levels

  • Adobe offered an account manager and technical support, at a price point that suited them.

Review how you handle signatures at present. Design a process that makes the most of the features available through the tool you have chosen.

Take the opportunity to check that you are using all the information you collect..

Make sure you have storage plans that are secure and meet your data protection needs.

Cats Protection created a process where different teams take different roles.

At national level, the IT support team worked with branches to create new forms and documents that they then made available through the central Adobe Library system. This team all became registered users of Adobe Acrobat Pro.

They created all the documents needed for adoption including adoption forms, medical summaries and T&C’s.

The support team created adaptations of these documents to suit local Cat Protection branches.

In the Adobe system, Cats Protection local branch staff belong to a Group. They have access to Sign, and the Adobe Library. They can send and make small changes to the documents they have access to. They can sign them on behalf of their branch. But they can’t make new documents.

Branch Groups are crucial to privacy, as the completed forms are stored where only Group members can access them. It also helps with continuity, as all Group members can see the form, so if someone is not at work the process doesn’t slow down.

Finally, the branch staff send the forms out to adopters. The adopters don’t need any Adobe logins or programs - they just need an email address and access to a web browser where they can read and sign the forms.

Throughout the processes of designing this system they got support from their Adobe Account Manager who shared best practice on how to set things up.

Recognise that changing to a paperless system can be a challenge for some people. They may be worried about whether it will put people off or whether they themselves will be able to use it.

Cats Protection piloted the new process with some local branches. They ran training workshops and set up a training environment. The training environment enabled staff to practice sending, receiving and storing the forms. Once they were confident they began to use them live, with adopters.

Make sure you listen to people who are working with your clients or the people you support. Ask them for feedback and use their help to improve the process.

Early in the pandemic, Cats Protection needed to call adopters to let them know that they could now fill in forms online instead of the previous paper process. Now they let people know about the possibility of online paperwork as soon as they are interested in adoption.

Cats Protection’s IT Support team have worked carefully with their branches and with Adobe. They used a range of methods to collect feedback on how it was working. They used Microsoft forms to do this at the beginning. Now they’ve implemented digital paperwork into the process of giving cats up for adoption as well as for adopting cats.

They’re also in discussions with other teams across the organisation about how to make the most out of the service. This includes looking into features they never considered to start with such as automated workflows and integrations with other products.

Further information

Form design - want to see how other charities tackled gathering information?

Working on complex process design? consider running co-creation workshops. Find out more in this Catalyst Resource.

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