Case Study

Saving Trees and Time with NET+ Docusign at the University of Virginia

Through Internet2 NET+, UVA successfully implemented Docusign, resulting in thousands of hours in time savings annually.  

Solution Summary

From faculty and staff to students and parents, automating processes with Docusign has benefitted stakeholders throughout the university.

The Project

Universities typically manage a plethora of documents, many of which require review, approval, and signatures from various constituents.  

New Docusign logo

To improve this historically laborious and paper-laden process, leaders at University of Virginia (UVA) set their sights on technology. Namely, leaders sought to implement electronic signature software that makes it possible to create, send, and automate the signing of various forms and contracts – while providing authentication and workflow capabilities as well. 

Internet2 logo

To bring this vision to fruition, however, leaders needed to select the right technology option and overcome implementation challenges to achieve sought-after results. Job No. 1? Selecting the right electronic signature technology and entering into a favorable contract – a laborious process, in and of itself. 

Instead of taking this on internally, though, UVA entered into an agreement with Docusign via an Internet2 group purchasing initiative. Through this program, Internet2 conducted a rigorous service evaluation and then negotiated features, functionality, security, price, and other terms on behalf of seven to 10 universities. The Internet2 group collectively – and continually – provides feedback to Docusign to help the technology provider improve the product and its features.

The Solution

Getting Ready to Go Live: Entering into a favorable agreement was just the start. UVA leaders then had to address a variety of implementation challenges such as: 

“The biggest challenge was time,” Silgar said. Our staff had to take a lot of time to create the forms, and we had to manage that process. We found that a lot of times summer is better for this work.” 

“We have an hourly task scheduled on our servers that goes out to Docusign through their API and picks up the completed forms deemed appropriate to pick up,” Silgar explained. “So for example, we only pick up the templates named student request form within the account. The script goes out, picks it up, and puts it into ImageNow …  then we use a script to populate the students’ information with perceptive content based on their ID number.” 

“UVA is a little bit more decentralized in terms of the different departments and schools, so we went down the route of creating sub accounts,” Silgar said. “We have 50-some accounts, with sub accounts underneath some of those.” 
TestingTo ensure success, it’s important to test an electronic signature program before entering into production. “Docusign has a really great demo environment, so we are able to really test not only our integrations, but templates that people create before they go into production,” Silgar noted.

The Result

Bounty of Benefits: After following these best practices, Docusign has been implemented widely across the university. Indeed, it is running in several schools, including the school of arts and sciences, the school of data science, and the law school, to name a few.  It also was implemented in several departments, such as student financial services and admissions. 

As such, documents can seamlessly traverse from point to point. “Every school has a declaration or major form. Students click on the URL for the form, then it goes to faculty, staff, and the associate dean. Then it goes into the system,” Silgar explained. 

This improved workflow benefits all parties. “It’s not just staff and students that are affected by the implementation of Docusign,” Silgar said. “It’s also faculty and even parents.” (see chart)

Workforce productivity calculation graphic.

Success In All Corners

Staff Success

Faculty Success

Student Success

Parent Success

Altogether, 10,000 Docusign forms are processed, and 8,000 forms are retained in document imaging annually. Such automation saved 10,000 hours in 2022. 

In addition, the system is helping the university to act in an environmentally responsible manner. “From April 2014 to December 2022, we saved a million sheets of paper and 112 trees per year,” according to SIlgar. 

Perhaps most importantly, the system helps staff members zero in on the most meaningful aspects of their jobs. “Our registrar and staff can now focus on doing all of the important parts of their jobs as opposed to the weeks of mind-numbing scanning and linking they had to do before Docusign,” observed Adam Richard, operations, finance and administrative manager, College of Arts and Sciences. “The software has been a game-changer for our office.” 

About the NET+ Docusign Program

Internet2 Higher Education members can take advantage of the NET+ Docusign offering which includes special higher education terms and custom packages developed for the higher education community. Please contact for details and check out our FAQ.