How to Choose an e-Signature Provider
Twenty years ago, signing an important document electronically seemed legally risky — not to mention just plain weird. Even technologically savvy people wondered: “Will this really work as a legally binding signature?”
But the legal issues have been resolved, with court after court upholding the enforceability of e-signatures, as well as nations across the world developing consistent legal standards. And encrypted digital e-signature technology has made e-signatures even more reliable than a hand signature.
As a result of these developments, e-signatures have become commonplace — an expected part of doing business. Consequentially, there are many companies looking for e-signature providers, and many e-signature providers looking for customers.
In this environment, thoroughly evaluating potential e-signature providers is crucial, because amid the market clutter there are significant variances in quality — and vendors — services are not one-size-fits-all.
“Simply put, organizations of all sizes recognize the potential of digital signature technologies throughout the enterprise, but with so many vendors offering a wide variety of technologies and solutions, it can be challenging to fairly and confidently evaluate which will best meet their particular needs and requirements,”concludes the TechGlobeX blog.
The Demands of the Enterprise
Before ever talking to vendors, an enterprise should be clear about what it hopes to achieve with e-signature technology. The technology is not the subject — the subject is how the technology can help an enterprise increase efficiency, lower costs, and raise customer satisfaction.
The discussion about what to look for in a vendor shouldn’t begin with the IT department. Rather, it should begin from a strategic point of view. It’s only when an enterprise identifies what it needs from a business perspective that it can begin talking to vendors about how they can meet that need.
Enterprises shouldn’t be afraid to ask specific questions about vendors’ past performance. What experience do they have? Have they worked with companies of similar size and in the same or related industry? Do they have customizable solutions?
Talk to some of their customers to get a feel for their commitment to customer service and the quality of their technology.
Does the vendor offer genuine advice on how to best meet your needs, or are they just trying to sell regardless of the fit? Do they provide assistance with implementation, including sufficient training? Do they promise follow-up service until the customer is satisfied?
Vendors who operate with a “one-off” mentality can usually be identified by how they interact with potential customers in initial discussions. Enterprises should look for vendors who regard implementation as a joint effort.
The e-signature market is flooded with many small start-ups that can provide great value, but enterprises should enter into relationships with these companies with an understanding that if the vendor goes out of business, it will mean substantial complications and a potentially devastating impact on the ROI. Due diligence of a potential vendor’s financial situation is advisable.
Although selecting a vendor shouldn’t begin with IT considerations, as an organization evaluates potential e-signature vendors, it will eventually need to take into consideration specific technical issues and how they relate to the vendors being considered. Enterprises should look for vendors willing to work hard to develop creative solutions.
Related to technical concerns — but, vitally, also to productivity and ROI — is the level of integration into other business software systems, such as contract management software. Ideally, e-signature solutions should seamlessly tie into all other business processes.