Here's some basic information in order to help you ascertain an answer for me:

  1. I work for the government (Department of the Navy).

    a. This severely limits the ability for manipulation.

  2. I am not a SharePoint Administrator.

    a. I am my department's office assistant and site owner that knows how to manipulate SharePoint from my time in the military. We have and IT department who's swamped with a multitude of SharePoint projects. They are the SharePoint Administrators that can create and adjust workflows in designer. They are very capable SharePoint Administrators.

  3. Infopath sucks.

    a. Nuff Said.

  4. We are using Mircosoft SharePoint 2010.

  5. We have a third party deveoper's software, Coras Works, installed.


    a. This is just a question from a private citizen on a public website.

Now that the primer's out of the way, I would like to use a workflow to collect signatures on a PDF. There's existing workflows that have already been created, but lack the ability to be opened directly from the workflow, manipulated, signed, and uploaded back to the workflow. Currently, I am using a document library in order to have users "Check-Out" the PDF form, sign it, and upload it back to the document library. Unfortunately, this does not automate the process for notification of pending actions within the chain of responsibility. Is there any way to adjust SharePoint to make a PDF open directly from a workflow, adjust the PDF, and upload it back to the workflow? Thank you for your time and assistance.

2 Answers 2


I too am doing a very similar business process for a government customer where PDFs are being used for digital signatures.

After doing extensive research, it appears there is no fool-proof way to detect when a PDF has been signed (since the PDF gets modified upon signature in a manner which is identical to a modification via normal means (like inserting a comment)).

What we have done (which is not the greatest solution) is created a SharePoint designer workflow that emails each person in the signature chain and directs them to:

  1. Sign the PDF document
  2. Click on the task that was assigned to them for signing the document and approve it (which indicates they have signed the PDF and resaved it).

This approach at least lets the workflow continue on to the next signatory albeit they have to "acknowledge" that they've completed the signature.

Hope this helps!

  • It does. Your method is a step closer towards automation. I appreciate your input and plan to use it. As far as the workflow is concerned, is it possible to go backwards within the workflow? Some people make mistakes and could forward the task to the next tier. If the mistake is discovered, can it be sent back to a lower tier in the workflow for a rework? Apr 9, 2015 at 11:12
  • 1
    In 2010, workflows are linear. The only way to "go back" is to restart the workflow. I train my users to email the person who made the mistake, wait for them to fix it, then sign and approve. Unfortunately, if you're working w/ O-4/GS-12 and up, that's usually not acceptable.
    – Erin L
    Mar 28, 2016 at 13:33
  • When the higher tier reject his workflow, you may make a notification to his lower tier. When the lower tier fixed his work and upload a new pdf, trigger the same workflow again. This way the error is logged (including the commented input by high tier). All version is kept (the wrong pdf and correct pdf).
    – Mark L
    Aug 9, 2016 at 1:57

I'm answering very late, maybe you can use K2C dSignature that is an add-in that enables, within SPD workflows, to add a one or more digital signatures. You can have a look at http://www.k2c.com/products/Digital-Signature-SharePoint.html

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