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A quick buying guide to electronic signature

by Legalesign Staff Writer, 22 February 2018

Start your assessment with a couple of your business scenarios in mind. There is no such thing as a full demo of Legalesign. Legalesign is designed around what you will actually be doing, so it's easy to use and demo on that basis, but it also carries a depth of features that surveyed individually would take all day. The scenario approach is a good starting point; it's a fast way to cover the early ground, test for any show-stoppers and get to a shortlist of providers. Once you have your shortlist, split your assessment into four parts: features, usability, support, compliance & infrastructure.

Consider each of those areas and how important they are to you: if you use e-signature infrequently then support may not matter, but for sales-related documents quick support may be critical. Different products will vary around those 4 axes for a variety of reasons such as, the e-signature company's market size, position, growth pattern, its main target markets, and technical development history.

I: Features

While your initial assessment covered your main use-cases ('scenarios'), as you move forward with a deeper assessment, mindful that you are committing yourself for the future too, consider what you need to do least frequently (what we call 'edge cases'), and what might may arise in the next two or three years. Bear in mind not only the document and signing features, but also the general business functionality. What if you need to add quite a few users, or remove them?

II: Usability

While everyone likes a good aesthetic, the fundamental business trade-off is that usability reduces training costs. A good uncluttered interface means a new employee can be trained up in a few minutes. For a large organisation, a complex and laborious software could result in thousands of hours of hidden costs. Paradoxically, in the real world, small businesses value usability highly even though, for those businesses, its marginal benefit is quite small.

Be aware of an inbuilt bias that the first software you use will set your 'normal' and everything else may appear to be 'wrong'. You could mitigate this by, for example, having several colleagues test your short-listed platforms.

III: Support

You won't miss support till you need it. Assess its value by balancing up the importance of the contracts/process where the software is being used. If you are small business with occasional use it is reasonable not to value support. But if you are relying on your platform to close sales contracts, you will want to adjust your priorities accordingly.

IV: Compliance & Infrastructure

Data protection is a trend increasing in importance worldwide. You can use standards like ISO27001 which will tell you the company has an externally audited framework in place to protect your data. GDPR is now a reality in Europe and so you can test whether the software fulfils those requirements. Location of data is important with GDPR, an e-signature provider will usually provide this information in their privacy policy or in FAQs. In addition, check the strength of intrastructure. While this is difficult to do from the outside, a good indicator is to ask for downtime/uptime statistics. If there was downtime, check whether there was a reason, whether it was scheduled, and whether the cause was discovered and solved.

Thank-you for reading this brief guide. It should have given you a high-level view of the major areas to consider in your procurement. When you dig into the details get in touch with us and we will be pleased to assist.

Download our Executive Summary for some more information about e-signature and Legalesign.


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