|Which Electronic Signature App is Number One?|
I Want to Live in a Paperless World.
Think for a second about how many paper documents you’ve lost: essays, birth certificate, presentations, meeting notes, or whatever it may be for you. Then think about how many electronic documents you’ve lost in the cloud. If you’re anything like me the former far outweighs the latter.
How many times have you waited less than patiently for USPS or FEDEX to deliver time-sensitive documents requiring your signature or a signature from your customer? That wait time adds zero value, and in 2014, it seems like there should be a better option, so I went looking for it.
I’ve talked about having a solution to sign documents electronically before (click here to read) but that only solved the specific problem I wanted to resolve at that time. It didn’t handle the end-to-end document signing process between two parties. You might be asking how this could apply to you but this has real implications on normal activities you wouldn’t even think about.
Just the other day, my wife and I needed to sign a release form for some photos taken of our kids, and the online form was unsophisticated, to put it nicely. It looked more like a contact form you’d find on a blog than a legally binding release form.
As it turns out, there are apps built specifically for this scenario when you need to get a signature from someone else or even a group of people, with the emphasis on collecting those signatures as fast as possible.
Why Should You Care About The Electronic Signature Technology?
I’ll answer that with two reasons – money and money.
- Money saved from not wasting money on paper, express shipping, and physical storage space
- Money in your pocket sooner because the sooner you can get deals signed, the sooner you can start work, and the sooner checks hit your bank account.
- Bonus reason: mother earth will appreciate you sparing those trees, if you’re into that kind of green.
After spending some time looking around on the internet for an overview of the electronic signature options, it quickly became clear I’d only be able to piece together information from multiples sources about the various options available. No comprehensive view existed…so I decided to create the thing I was looking for, a clear way to determine which electronic signature app is best for a given user.
The answer for me was Docusign, but there’s a chance it could be different for you so let me show you my approach to choosing Docusign. Before I give you the answer, thought, let me explain what I did so you know how I reached my conclusion.
Which Apps Were Part of the Comparison?
First, I needed to know which apps should even be considered in this review. Through some conversations, research, and my own experience I landed on the following list to battle for the crown of best e-sign app:
What Characteristics Were Used to Grade Each App?
Each area considered was graded on a 5-point scale with 5 being the best. The areas graded were as follows:
- Compatible file formats (e.g. PDF, Word, PPT)
- Cloud service integrations (e.g. Box, Dropbox)
- Signature types (drawn vs typed)
- Ability to use “sign here” tags (to indicate signature location for recipient)
- Template available for frequently used documents (e.g. employee HR docs, non-disclosure agreements)
- Sequencing options for document workflow
- Audit trail (when document was sent, reviewed, signed)
- User interface of web application (look
- Overall functionality and usability of the mobile application (can you do all the same things as on the web plus look and feel)
- Price (individual/free vs business)
A lot of the functionality was similar. I’ll give you some of the key highlights below, and you can go here to get the full details of the comparison if you want a bit more detail.
Key Highlights of the E-Sign App Comparison
- File format: PowerPoint was the least common of the file formats, but most people I’ve come across don’t use PPT files to obtain signatures.
- Templates: Use of templates could add great efficiency for documents you need to send out with the only variable being the name/email address of the recipient. Email text is already prepared, and the fields to sign are highlighted with placeholders. All had this, but EchoSign took it a step further by adding a summary to let the recipient know how many places require signatures. Very Nice touch.
- Cloud service integrations: There is some variation in the integrations available across the platforms but all had integration with Box and Dropbox. Most had integration Google Docs.
- Audit trail: All had audit trail functionality tracking when documents were signed HelloSign didn’t produce a full audit trail until all signatures were obtained. It then attached the audit trail to the document itself instead of in the system.
- Price: HelloSign has an option where you can send three documents every month for free, and no other option had this although DocuSign lets you sign unlimited documents others send to you for free.
- HelloSign has a nifty integration for signing docs directly in Gmail and GoogleDocs that is worth checking out.
- RightSignature has integration with Citrix Sharefile if you use that for your cloud storage.
All things considered, DocuSign was the best solution for the way I valued each of the above features. If you look at this and have questions, don’t hesitate to ask. You can also click here to download the model used to do this analysis. By forcing you to be explicit about what’s most important to you, you make a better decision in the end.
Good or bad, let me know what you think in the comments!
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