Points to Consider While Choosing an E-Signature Vendor

Change is the buzzword that is making the rounds in the present business environment. Nowadays, businesses are experiencing a great change with the adoption of electronic signature. Electronic signatures provide an efficient and cost-effective way to manage paperless signatures. The idea of using e-signature for your business requires an e-signature vendor.

With the popularity of e-signatures, a number of vendors are popping up in the market. But all these e-signature vendors are not equal, so it becomes important to evaluate them on some points. So, in this article, we’ll discuss the points that the businesses should consider while choosing an e-signature vendor.

Top 10 Points You Should Consider While Choosing an E-Signature Vendor

In a survey by Canon, almost 28% of small and medium businesses spend excessive time on paperwork for administrative purposes. Another study conducted by YouGov stated that small and medium businesses also lose almost £8.72 billion per year. It is due to spending around four hours and more on an average every week on the administrative paperwork. So, it’s high time that businesses should consider working smarter rather than working hard for hours.

This has been the notable reason why businesses are making the big leap towards selecting an appropriate e-signature vendor. However, this is where you shall be careful as you would be taking care of more than just ditching the pen and paper route for signatures. So, let’s get ahead and explore the factors that should be considered before choosing an e-signature solution.

1. Tamper Evidence Feature

The first aspect that you should emphasize while choosing an e-signature vendor is related to concerns of tampering or modifications in the document after a single signature. You can find certain e-signature service providers providing a tamper-evidence feature. This feature can help you to see any alterations that have been made in the document. The different service providers have unique approaches for providing tamper evidence. So, if you are quite specific about the security level with an e-signature vendor, it is appropriate to ask the approach followed by their tamper evidence technology.

You need to make sure that the tamper evidence is recorded right from the moment when a transaction is initiated. It would be recommended not to go for a solution that tracks tampering evidence when the signing process is terminated. To ensure legal certainty, it is essential that the e-signature service provider ensures tamper evidence recording after the initial signature rather than waiting for the completion of all the signatures.

The tamper evidence technology should be capable of showcasing any unwanted changes attempted in the document. Furthermore, you would be able to ensure that the first signatory has not tampered the document before sending the document to the second signatory. You can also find some modern e-signature solutions that have the facility of making a document tamper-proof with its creation. This way, the document cannot tamper once it has been completed.

To use e-signature effectively, it is important to understand electronic signature workflow. Here’s a comprehensive guide to e-signature workflow.

2. The Comprehensiveness of the Audit Trail

Another prominent factor that shall come into focus when choosing an e-signature vendor is the audit trail. The audit trail is a common feature that you would find with the services of an electronic signature vendor. This feature is responsible for tracking the actions of signatories and the documents in every transaction for creating evidence about the conduct of the entire transaction.

However, different e-signature platforms show considerable differences in the amount of detail recorded by them in the audit trail. So, it is recommended that you should look for e-signatures that are available with a detailed and comprehensive granular audit trail. A granular audit trail can help you gain access to evidence of each element involved in the signing process.

Any reliable e-signature vendor would ensure that you can have a detailed audit trail, thereby facilitating legal evidence for the signing process that can be used in court if needed be. The elements that you can find in a comprehensive audit trail include the date and time of document submission, consents of signatories, IP address of signatories, cancellations or opt-outs, issue of digital certificates and the time of signatures and initials.

3. Access to Evidence

The next factor that should be on your priority when selecting an e-signature vendor is whether you have to depend on the service provider to prove the legality of the signature. As we have observed above, tamper evidence technology and audit trails could help in validating a transaction if the need arises. However, you should make sure that you can access the information at any time.

So, you should look for an electronic signature solution that can help you verify signatures independently. This implies that the evidence of the digital signature should be embedded directly and permanently to the signed document. Look for an e-signature platform that utilizes published standards as well as public key infrastructure (PKI) for proving the validity and integrity of documents.

With the evidence, you could be able to access it anytime even after years. You would not find this facility in all electronic signature platforms, especially the ones bound by proprietary standards. This type of vendors requires visiting the solution provider’s website to obtain information about the signature. This can seem plausible for a moment. But you need to think of long term scenarios.

For example, what would happen if the vendor’s server goes down? What if the vendor has changed their technology after ten years and you need to access a signature for proving in court? In these situations, you can land up without access to evidence of the validity of your documents.

4. Compliance with Industry Standards

Talking about security aspects with an electronic signature vendor, it is essential to make sure that the vendor meets industry compliance. The most basic precedents for taking into consideration are ESIGN and UETA guidelines for e-signatures. In addition to these precedents, it is also essential for an e-signature vendor to comply with the regulatory standards followed in different industries.

The financial services industry requires compliance with the Standards and Procedures for Electronic Records and Signatures (SPeRS). The Securities industry requires compliance of an e-signature platform with the Electronic Securities Transaction Act. For the sector of annuities, it is essential to comply with the Insured Retirement Institute’s E-signature Standards for Straight through Processing. HIPAA regulations are found in the healthcare industry, whereas 21 CFR Part 11 is relevant for life sciences.

So, based on your industry type, you need to make sure that the e-signature solution of your choice complies with all the industry regulations.

5. Authentication Measures

Authentication factors should be the next priority when selecting an e-signature vendor. This is essential to make sure that your documents are not in the wrong hands at any point in time. Therefore, the e-signature platform should follow a minimum of two factors of authentication.

The most basic example of two-factor authentication is a combination of a password with an SMS text message on a mobile phone. The importance and sensitivity of the information in different documents and forms would vary considerably. So, you could face the need for higher levels of authentication. You would not want your e-signature vendor to leave your documents open to unauthorized access.

So, based on the level of risk involved with a document, you need to find whether the vendor provides multiple approaches for verification of identities of signatories. One of the methods is email-only authentication. In this, a user clicks on a link received through an email and is redirected to the transaction directly.

Knowledge-based authentication (KBA) is another simple yet proven measure for authenticating the identity of signatories. KBA would require the user to input their date of birth or the last three digits of their social security number followed by answering a set of multiple-choice questions. If the user answers all the questions correctly, then the user could access the transaction.

Certain vendors can implement shared questions for authentication in which a user has to answer certain personal questions that are known to the sender. Upon answering the questions correctly, the user could prove their authentication to access the transaction. Note that better authentication requirements would directly result in better defense of the e-signature.

There are a number of myths about the e-signature. Here we cover the top electronic signature myths and facts behind them.

6. Cloud Security

The majority of the concerns related to the selection of the right e-signature vendor are associated with the safety of the e-signed documents. You should know that e-signatures are SaaS solutions, and this implies the relation between e-signatures and the cloud. So, you should choose a vendor that can provide a formidable cloud infrastructure capable of safeguarding the confidentiality, availability, and integrity of your data.

Most important of all, you should try to find if the electronic signature solution provider has accomplished security certifications such as SOC2. In addition to a sturdy cloud infrastructure, security certifications indicate vendor’s highest standards for cloud security and data protection. By confirming this aspect with your vendor, you could stay away from complaints of unauthorized access.

7. Ease of Use of the Solution

The next crucial concern in selecting an e-signature vendor is usability. An easy to use e-signature platform can help drive positive outcomes in the adoption of the technology. You don’t want to deal with issues such as confusion about e-signing the documents or logging in with your credentials every time. Also, you would want to stay away from unnecessary nagging due to prompts for installing plug-ins, software, and apps. These concerns can dissuade the users, and they would most likely leave the e-signature process.

Therefore, it is advisable to go for a solution that can help in simplification of the e-signature process. It should make the e-signature process simple for customers as well as your internal stakeholders. You need to focus on certain questions such as the number of clicks a user has to make for signing a document, the method for sending documents for signature or the clicks or time take for creating an agreement. This would help you improve adoption of the e-signature technology alongside reducing the friction in contract acceptance processes.

8. Facility for Company Branding

As a business, you go before your customers with a unique identity. Your brand speaks of your identity and differentiates you from the competition. Therefore, you need to understand that the e-signature vendor of your choice should provide facilities for company branding. It is mandatory to look for a vendor that can help you customize document workflows with your company logo.

This would maintain your company’s identity among your clients and provide a consistent brand experience. When this experience combines with a hassle-free document viewing and signing experience, your business will mark a formidably positive impression on your clients.

9. Integration with Business Applications and Processes

Your business must be dependent on various business applications for the management of daily tasks. Therefore, you need to check the e-signature platform integration into the internal processes of your business. The e-signature technology should provide users with the flexibility to integrate the e-signature app into the existing business processes. Selecting an electronic signature software that can be integrated effectively with common business applications such as Microsoft Word, Google Drive, and Dropbox would give a promising boost to employee productivity.

Treat your electronic signature platform as an investment. Thus, aim to make the most of it by the facility of using them as per your convenience. You need to evaluate your common document workflows and find out approaches in which e-signature technology can be integrated with them. It is also recommended to evaluate the API of the e-signature solution alongside reviewing its other clients.

10. Try to Find Mobile-friendly Solutions

Being mobile is an inseparable part of the business environment today. Customers and internal stakeholders in every business are constantly dependent on their mobile devices such as smartphones for daily transactions. So, it is important to look for an e-signature vendor that can provide the facility of e-signing documents from a mobile device. The vendor should provide optimization of the signing process for all types of mobile devices and platforms. So, you should make sure that your customers can have a user-friendly experience in e-signing documents.

Also Read: Digital Signature vs Electronic Signature


On a concluding note, it can be stated that the aspects of security, legal validity, and usability should be the major factors to consider in selecting the right e-signature vendor. The discussion presented above has provided clear insights into the different points required to choose an electronic signature vendor. However, it is also important to look for the vendor’s association with your industry as well as their reputation in working with different clients in the past.

So, have a focus on the above factors while choosing an e-signature vendor and find the best one!

Posted by Brian Felix

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