02 Jul How to choose the right digital signature software for your business
The past decade has marked a period of huge digital transformation for many businesses, with technology replacing all kinds of manual processes, not least the ability to sign documents remotely.
Even before Covid, business managers were looking for ways to ditch the scanner and make the process of remote signing faster and more secure. But with the wealth of digital signature software to choose from these days – each with different features and price points – it can be hard to know where to start. Recently, we’ve been helping clients explore their needs, and reporting back to them on the best solutions to fit their individual business.
Firstly, it’s important to distinguish between the terms “electronic signature” and “digital signature”. An electronic signature is a digital version of a handwritten signature, which is attached to document in order to verify it. Meanwhile, a digital signature uses cryptography – using codes to protect information so that only those who need to access it can – to verify a document between two or more parties. It is also authorised by a trusted third party called a certificate authority. A digitally signed document is more secure because it is harder intercept or forge.
When choosing a digital signature platform, it’s important to bear the following in mind:
Security – how well can it be relied on to verify and authenticate legal and financial documents?
Compatibility – do you need to be able to use it with a particular operating system, e.g. Windows, iOS, or iPadOS? Does it also need to work with other applications, such as Adobe Reader or Microsoft Word?
Cost – while some software is free up to a certain level of use, others come with an upfront subscription fee.
Ease of use – using a digital signature should be simpler and quicker than a paper signature, so you’ll need a software which is easy for you and your team to set up and use.
So let’s take a look at some of the most popular digital signature platforms on the market today:
SharePoint Collect Signatures Workflow
What we love: This application is part of SharePoint and Microsoft Word, so if you’re already using one of these, there’s no additional cost incurred. As you would expect, it’s compatible with Windows and MS Word, and the device limits are the same as Microsoft 365 (i.e. each user account can be installed across five Windows PCs), although there is no limit on the number of “senders”.
What’s not so good: Security-wise, although Microsoft has published documentation detailing how SharePoint can be configured to comply with the FDA’s regulations on electronic records and electronic signatures, it is unclear whether SharePoint can be configured to comply with other UK or EU regulations. Therefore, most businesses use an additional compliant digital signature software that integrates with Microsoft 365, rather than relying solely on SharePoint and Microsoft Word. Perhaps unsurprisingly, you can only digitally sign a document using MS Word when it’s running in Windows – not on Apple or Android devices. And although it’s easy to use once up and running, to set up this software, you would need some technical knowledge of Sharepoint.
What we love: Adobe Sign has excellent security features and is compliant with UK and EU regulations. It can be used in a web browser or an Adobe application, such as Acrobat Reader or the Adobe Sign mobile app, which is especially convenient for those who need access on the go. The high degree of compatibility and seamless integration, combined with smooth operation, mean Adobe Sign is extremely easy to use.
What’s not so good: It seems the high level of security, compatibility and ease of use comes at a price, with Small Business use starting at £36.50 per month at the time of writing. However, there is a 90-day free trial available, so you’ll have plenty of time to see how it stacks up against the competition.
What we love: SignEasy scores highly in terms of security and compatibility, running on Android, iPad OS, MacOS and Windows. You can use it on a web browser or mobile app, and it also integrates with Box, Dropbox, Evernote, Freshteams, Gmail, Google Drive, Microsoft Teams, Outlook and Zoho. What’s more, each user (sender) can install SignEasy on an unlimited number of devices. It’s really user-friendly, with drag-and-drop fields for signatures, names and dates. To sign, you can either type your name, draw your signature (via a touchpad, touchscreen, or mouse), or upload an image of your handwritten signature.
What’s not so good: As with SharePoint Collect Signatures Workflow, this software doesn’t support many third-party integrations, which could limit its use, depending on which other platforms you use.
What we love: HelloSign is compatible with Apple and Android systems (iOS, iPadOS, MacOS and Windows). It also integrates with Box, Dropbox, Evernote, Gmail, Google Docs, Google Drive, G Suite, HubSpot CRM, Microsoft OneDrive, Oracle CEC, Oracle CPQ, Salesforce, and Slack. Each sender can install it on an unlimited number of devices. HelloSign is owned by Dropbox and is compliant with UK and EU regulations. Once a document is sent out for signature, HelloSign uses a similar security method to Adobe Sign and SignEasy, whereby the document is certified and encrypted so that any tampering would be evident. It’s really easy to use and provides a timeline of progress made, such as document sent, document viewed, document signed/declined, etc. HelloSign is one of the cheapest platforms on the market and comes with a 30-day free trial.
What’s not so good: If we had to pick something, it would be that the business subscription tier is limited to a maximum of five senders. But apart from that, it ticks all our boxes, for small businesses at least.
In a world where tech is creeping into all areas of a business, the convenience and sophistication of today’s digital signature software means there’s no longer a need to rely on paper documentation. Now all you have to do is choose one that fits your business requirements! If you need a bespoke review, book one in with us today.