Digital signatures make peak season less taxing for H&R Block

Tax-preparation firm H&R Block has used a digital signature-based solution to streamline the process of bringing on additional tax specialists to help it through its busiest season – the third calendar quarter of the year, when the company will process more than 750,000 tax returns.

Because of the heavily seasonal nature of its business, the global firm had struggled in the leadup to peak season as it undertook a massive, and largely manual, process for identifying, hiring and registering a corps of contract workers that boosted its Australian workforce from just over 400 people to more than 2500.

With no automated way to manage the contracts each worker was required to sign, “we weren't ever sure whether everyone had a contract or not,” HR manager Bill Cashman told CSO Australia, noting that each worker also needed to sign off on a range of corporate policies. New staff were also required to complete police checks in a process that was particularly paper-intensive.

“Doing all of this by paper meant a significant amount of time for people in the office,” continued Cashman, who joined the company last year and only had to witness one recruitment season to know that things had to change – and quickly.

“Even if you're using a mail-merge sort of approach, there's a lot of work involved in tracking them. People were used to setting things up with spreadsheets and trying to run through them, but we needed to have an audit trail.”

Earlier this year, the firm began exploring digital options that would speed the process of onboarding so many employees at the same time. The new process not only needed to be streamlined and efficient, but needed to incorporate signature-equivalent security that would provide non-repudiable authentication for staff.

H&R Block ultimately settled on a public key infrastructure (PKI) offering from Secured Signing, which brought a range of X509 PKI-based digital-signature management capabilities to the table.

Secured Signing's signature-management infrastructure is delivered on a software-as-a-service (SaaS) basis and ties into H&R Block's HR system, supporting a document workflow in which contracts are now individualised automatically and distributed to new staff online. The contracts are electronically signed online, with incomplete paperwork automatically followed up online and a detailed audit trail maintained for each document.

The net result has been to dramatically improve the recruitment workflow, improving the speed with which staff can be onboarded – and cutting the time necessary for H&R Block to get a full set of completed documents. Integration with background-checking firm PeopleCheck simplified the process of obtaining police clearance for new staff – what Cashman said was previously “a really onerous step and very fraught with the possibility of getting things wrong, then having to go through the process again”.

That data exchange now happens seamlessly in the background, saving H&R Block “an enormous amount of time” in processing police checks that are also more accurate than ever.

“It's been fantastic,” Cashman said. “We're going to move more and more things onto the platform. Because you don't have set workflows and can do a lot of ad hoc stuff using the platform, our district managers and people using the system are thinking of new uses for it. It's only limited by our imagination.”

This article is brought to you by Enex TestLab, content directors for CSO Australia.

Join the CSO newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags digital signature-based solutionSecured SigningH&R Blockpublic key infrastructure (PKI)Bill Cashman

More about BillCSOEnex TestLabH&R BlockSecured Signing

Show Comments

Featured Whitepapers

Editor's Recommendations

Solution Centres

Stories by David Braue

Latest Videos

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: The Human Factor - Your people are your biggest security weakness

    ​Speakers: David Lacey, Researcher and former CISO Royal Mail David Turner - Global Risk Management Expert Mark Guntrip - Group Manager, Email Protection, Proofpoint

    Play Video

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: Current ransomware defences are failing – but machine learning can drive a more proactive solution

    Speakers • Ty Miller, Director, Threat Intelligence • Mark Gregory, Leader, Network Engineering Research Group, RMIT • Jeff Lanza, Retired FBI Agent (USA) • Andy Solterbeck, VP Asia Pacific, Cylance • David Braue, CSO MC/Moderator What to expect: ​Hear from industry experts on the local and global ransomware threat landscape. Explore a new approach to dealing with ransomware using machine-learning techniques and by thinking about the problem in a fundamentally different way. Apply techniques for gathering insight into ransomware behaviour and find out what elements must go into a truly effective ransomware defence. Get a first-hand look at how ransomware actually works in practice, and how machine-learning techniques can pick up on its activities long before your employees do.

    Play Video

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: Get real about metadata to avoid a false sense of security

    Speakers: • Anthony Caruana – CSO MC and moderator • Ian Farquhar, Worldwide Virtual Security Team Lead, Gigamon • John Lindsay, Former CTO, iiNet • Skeeve Stevens, Futurist, Future Sumo • David Vaile - Vice chair of APF, Co-Convenor of the Cyberspace Law And Policy Community, UNSW Law Faculty This webinar covers: - A 101 on metadata - what it is and how to use it - Insight into a typical attack, what happens and what we would find when looking into the metadata - How to collect metadata, use this to detect attacks and get greater insight into how you can use this to protect your organisation - Learn how much raw data and metadata to retain and how long for - Get a reality check on how you're using your metadata and if this is enough to secure your organisation

    Play Video

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: How banking trojans work and how you can stop them

    CSO Webinar: How banking trojans work and how you can stop them Featuring: • John Baird, Director of Global Technology Production, Deutsche Bank • Samantha Macleod, GM Cyber Security, ME Bank • Sherrod DeGrippo, Director of Emerging Threats, Proofpoint (USA)

    Play Video

  • 150x50

    IDG Live Webinar:The right collaboration strategy will help your business take flight

    Speakers - Mike Harris, Engineering Services Manager, Jetstar - Christopher Johnson, IT Director APAC, 20th Century Fox - Brent Maxwell, Director of Information Systems, THE ICONIC - IDG MC/Moderator Anthony Caruana

    Play Video

More videos

Blog Posts