E-signatures have been around longer than you’d think. In 2000, the U.S. Congress passed the ESIGN Act (Electronic Signatures in Global and National Commerce) to ease the flow of interstate and foreign commerce. ESIGN states that electronic signatures and records are as authenticate and enforceable as paper ones. Since that time, we’ve seen the use of electronic signatures grow steadily as more businesses examine the advantages.
When you need a document signed quickly, fax machines and overnight delivery may not be enough. If your recipient is familiar with the procedure, you can get their signature in minutes. Since you’re not using paper, you don’t have to detail someone to file the paperwork, and you don’t need the space to physically store it. If you have backups on the cloud or in a server farm somewhere, a physical copy may not be necessary.
Another consideration is security because you can encrypt an electronic document, but not a paper one. Also, you can establish an electronic audit trail for that document if there is ever a question about its validity. The possible downside is this data can be hacked, decrypted, and even altered.
From your business side of things, you’re probably already asking what features you need. But stop and think about the people you’ll be mailing documents to. Have they ever used an electronic signature before? What you really need to ask here is: How easy is this software to use? Not just for you, but for everyone involved.
Each service has its strengths, but one of the first factors you should consider is whether the software meets compliance standards for your industry. After determining if it does, then think about features like customization, and effectiveness across multiple platforms, including mobile operating systems. Also, if your business uses CRM (Customer Relationship Management) software, it might be very helpful to have signature software that can integrate with it.
There are lots of signature software services out there, but not many with name recognition.
You’re familiar with Adobe products, and their Adobe eSign Service is popular and well rated. With Adobe you can easily scale up from one user to hundreds. It integrates with SalesForce, Apptus, Ariba, and Workday CRM software. And Adobe uses a six-step security process to ensure document validity. (https://acrobat.adobe.com/us/en/documents/esignatures.html)
CudaSign is interesting because it offers the option of either private cloud or on-premises deployment. With the cloud you can work from a browser, and pricing is SaaS style—per user, per month. On-premises is the license model, where software is installed on servers or individual computers. Some companies may prefer on-premises from a security standpoint or because of the nature of their business. CudaSign works with iOS and Android, and for the last three years it’s been the top-ranked e-signature app in the Apple store.
As one of the founding members of the xDTM standard, DocuSign is probably the most recognized e-signature service. It scales from individuals to small businesses to enterprise size, adding additional layers of features and security as needed. And in the area of customer service, DocuSign can help you make the transition to a fully digital document environment.
Right Signature is made by Citrix, creators of GotoMeeting. Their value proposition is ease of use. With Right Signature you can work from a browser, with no downloads and no plugins. Signatories don’t need an account or to sign in, they just need a browser and an email address. Like most of the services, Right Signature offers templates you can use to set up your documents.
Take advantage of the free trial periods offered by most of these services. Any company can claim their product is easy to use, and to them it probably is, but you’ll want to experiment yourself. Features are fine, but they don’t matter if the people you send documents to cannot figure out how to sign them.
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