Selecting Contract Management Software with E-Signature Integration

Organizations in the process of selecting a contract management software solution should insist on e-signature integration. With e-signature use now commonplace as a productivity-increasing tool in a wide range of industries, an effectual integrated e-signature capability is essential to the effectiveness of any contract management system.

Within the past several years, a radical shift from on-premises contract management software to software-as-a-service (SaaS) vendors has coincided with a similar shift in the e-signature market as a whole.  An analysis by the IT market-research firm Gartner projects that SaaS solutions will account for 80 percent of all North American e-signature purchases by next year, up from only 15 percent in 2009.

“Customers are looking for e-signature offerings that are secure, provide audible evidence that appropriate processes have been followed, can be easily used by individuals for ad hoc signing, and can be integrated with automated business processes,” writes Gartner research director Gregg Kreizman.

The last point has not been lost on SaaS providers of contract management software. Organizations aren’t just looking for e-signature capability; they want their e-signature service tied into a contract management system that is in turn aligned with other business software systems, such as customer relationship management, supply change management, and accounting.

The Case for SaaS

SaaS is the most popular cloud outsourcing model for a variety of reasons. It offers low start-up costs and pay-per-use pricing, while promising to provide internal cost savings. From start-ups seeking immediate IT functionality to established businesses looking to focus internal IT resources on leveraging core competencies, SaaS offers an attractive alternative to traditional on-premises systems.

The continuing growth in SaaS usage has been fueled by numerous factors, including the ubiquity of web-based applications, the spread of broadband internet access, continued development of cloud integration protocols, the escalating cost of keeping current with the rapid pace of software development, and the emergence of third-party service providers that store and insure data on the cloud.

Contract management systems and their e-signature processes are particularly well-suited to benefit from SaaS solutions because of their inherent need for anywhere/anytime data access, as well as for immediate scalability when business grows.

Some Considerations in Selecting a SaaS Provider

There are numerous providers of SaaS e-signature services, but sufficient integration with a contract management system is lacking in many of the market leaders, and their e-signature service offers no significant advantages over other vendors that do focus on CMS/e-signature integration. “Enterprises may pay a price premium for using market leaders’ services, and may be paying for unneeded features,” warns Gartner’s Kreizman about selecting an e-signature SaaS provider.

Another important factor in implementing a SaaS contract management system with e-signature support is a willingness for implementing flexible solutions that better match the needs of companies in specific fields. The selected vendor should have the flexibility to not only implement important changes in the software solution but also provide consulting services to achieve the best possible solution. Look for a company that has both built a strong reputation for customer service and a solid IT infrastructure that can meet the most astringent requirements.