A quick buying guide to electronic signature software (or any online software), and what we offer at Legalesign.
First, split your assessment into three parts: features, usability, support. Then consider those in turn, against how important they are to you. For example, if you use e-signature infrequently then support may not matter. But if your e-signature platform will be a tool for sales then support will be critical. Different products will vary around that three-fold axis for a variety of reasons, including for example the company's market size, position and growth pattern, their main target markets, and their technical development history.
You know what you need now. Ask yourself, what do I need least frequently (what we call 'edge cases') and also what might I need in the next two to three years. Consider not only the features for the core purpose of the software - sending and signing contracts - but also for general business functionality. What if I need to add quite a few users? What if I need to scale this up?
While everyone likes a good aesthetic, the fundamental business benefit is that good usability minimises your training costs. Can a new employee be trained up in a few minutes or will it take a whole morning session? For a large organisation you could be looking at thousands of hours. Curiously, in the real world, small businesses value usability highly even though its marginal benefit for them is relatively small.
Be aware too that the first software you use will set your 'normal' and everything else may appear to be 'wrong'. Try and adjust for this in-built human bias. You could mitigate this, for example, by having several people test your short-listed platforms in different orders.
You won't miss support till you need it. Assess its value by considering the importance of the process for which you will use the software. As the start of the article mentioned, 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 sights accordingly.
While those are the big three of the buying decision, since an e-signature platform is at heart a data company, it is important to consider the company's attitude to compliance and data security. How seriously does the company take data protection? Is it ISO certified, when did that happen? Is the company passing your data off to other companies? For example, at Legalesign we avoid live chat software because you are sending so much customer data to another party. Similarly we have developed our own CRM. The European Regulation GDPR arrives on 25th May 2018 and so double check the company is on course to meet those new laws.
Thank you for reading. I hope this gives you a good start if you about to begin an e-signature procurement.
Download our Executive Summary for some more information about e-signature and our offering.