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USDM and DocuSign – Compliant Now, Compliant Forever

data integrity in life sciences

Back in early 2014 – USDM and DocuSign first embarked on the partnership which has seen over 50 Life Sciences companies begin using DocuSign with the 21 CFR Part 11 add on.

Initially USDM was approached by Docusign to drive the creation of a set of requirements that would, once built into the system, ensure that 21 CFR Part 11 regulations around electronic signatures and records, could be met.

In order to achieve this, USDM was able to draw on a pool of knowledge deriving from personnel from every area of the Life Sciences ecosystem. From FDA current and past employees to people who’ve worked in the industry commercially and in a consultancy capacity for over 25 years.

Needless to say, the requirements for the system were drawn up, and the engineers at DocuSign got to work building the solution.

While this was in progress, USDM also got to work building out our Validation Accelerator Package (VAP) for DocuSign Part 11. Consisting of a set of complete processes and protocols based on GAMP® 5 risk-based Validation methodology. Included are the Validation Plan, User and Functional Requirements, Risk Assessments, Test Protocols for IQ and OQ, Trace Matrices, System Admin and Change Control SOP’s, and Summary Report. Also included – to take advantage of the work DocuSign puts in to operate “compliant ready” software – was an audit of both the DocuSign Headquarters, and their Data Centers both in the US and now in Europe. The VAP was and is designed to get customers live quickly and cost effectively, and in a compliant manner. But it is also important to ensure that once that state of compliance is met, that it is maintained. Since DocuSign is a multi-tenant cloud system, the updates DocuSign makes per scheduled release (monthly service packs and quarterly releases) have a potential effect on every user’s compliant state.

USDM takes this worry out of the customers hands. We analyze the releases on your behalf and produce a detailed report prior to each release, based on early access to the upcoming changes, containing all updates, any that are considered cGxP in nature – and why, and also a rationalization for those not considered cGxP. Further analysis on the cGxP changes is conducted to ascertain if they relate to core platform changes (and hence potentially impact everyone), or if they are perhaps bug fixes or enhancements to optional elements that the majority of customers do not use currently. Remedial actions are then drawn up – including the creation of or updates to requirements, the risk assessment thereof, and any new or regression tests deemed necessary commensurate with that risk. A clear instruction in each report is given as to the actions to be taken. For example – “Change 12345 – execute test script 7.1 steps 1 thru 12 contained herein.”

As time has passed – more and more of USDM’s customers are requesting that USDM actually perform any monthly testing required – and simply provide a fully executed report with completed test scripts (executed within the customer’s own test environments) for customer review and approval. This gives a true “fire and forget” approach to compliance and lets customers get on with the job of helping people and not have to worry about keeping systems up to date. Which – let’s be honest – is one of the reasons people are moving to the cloud in droves.

USDM and DocuSign are always working on improvements to the solution and to the way it is implemented and validated. While standard projects for simple use cases take around 4 to 6 weeks from start to finish using the VAP, it is possible – even with complex use cases, to go live in less than 3 weeks (demonstrated with a Global Biotech company with multiple integrations and single sign on requirements). And if you just want an out of the box, non-configurable solution that gives you simple Part 11 compliant e-signatures on any documents you can upload – then USDM is working on a solution that can get you there (AND be compliant and maintained as such) in as little as 1 week!

Leveraging DocuSign’s activities around testing, and the clear and concise documentation they are producing to demonstrate the development of the solution is in line with regulatory expectations, enables USDM to provide compliant solutions very quickly and inexpensively.

USDM is also in a unique position as the “compliance savvy” go between, between you and DocuSign. Because we are analyzing the changes on a regular cadence, using established and honed procedures – we are able to ascertain the elements that are not in “common use” by the majority of end users. And from this standpoint we are able to act as success architects for you, to help determine the elements of the system that may in fact benefit your business – and that you may not, without our analysis, even be aware of. We can determine the specific elements that would fit your business and recommend you begin utilizing them for specific use cases – to save you even more money and time. We can even provide example ROI’s for the processes – in case you need even more convincing that all this cloud stuff really is a good idea and is here to stay, and all of course in a compliant now, compliant forever way.

For more information on how USDM and DocuSign can build out the solution you need to save time and money – contact us at or toll-free at 1 (888) 231-0816.

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About the Author

David Blewitt is the Vice President of Cloud Compliance at USDM Life Sciences. David is an accomplished Life Sciences Regulatory and IS Compliance Professional with extensive hands-on and leadership experience in the Pharmaceutical, Medical Device, Biotech and Blood Management Industries, specifically in the fields of; Computer Systems Validation, Risk Management, Issue Investigation – Root Cause Analysis and Remediation, Quality Assurance, Software Development Lifecycle, Lean IS Compliance Enhancement Initiatives, Business Analysis, Product Lifecycle Management and Systems/Process analysis with Compliance Roadmap development.

About USDM Life Sciences

USDM Life Sciences is a global life science and healthcare services company, providing strategy and compliant technology solutions to regulated industries. If you work in Life Sciences or Healthcare, partnering with USDM Life Sciences makes it easy to accelerate innovation and maximize productivity. USDM Life Sciences only focuses on regulated industries and has built trusted partnerships with the most innovative technology companies in the world, and boast a staff of industry leading experts in the areas of technology and compliance.


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