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The widespread adoption of remote work and paperless workflows has accelerated the need for secure digital document signing. Implementing the right e-signature solution can significantly streamline signing processes while ensuring legal validity and compliance.
However, with a dizzying array of providers in the market, selecting the best digital signature service for your specific business needs can take time and effort. This article provides a comprehensive guide to identifying the key criteria and making the right choice.
Introduction to Digital Signatures
Digital signatures utilize cryptographic techniques to secure electronic document signing and verification. They bind signer’s to their signatures, ensure document integrity, and provide tamper-evident sealing like physical signatures on paper.
The core benefits of digitally signed documents include:
Legal validity and enforceability under e-signature laws
Stronger authentication of signer identity
Enhanced security protections against forgery
Easier to preserve as records for compliance needs
Environmental savings from reduced paper usage
Convenience of signing anytime, anywhere
With the right solution tailored to your workflows, your business can realize these advantages by going paperless and adopting digital signatures. But first, careful evaluation of your specific needs is required.
Assessing Organizational Needs
Take stock of your use cases, processes, and requirements before starting your vendor search. This will help you identify must-have features and avoid overspending on unnecessary capabilities.
Consider the following:
What types of documents do you need to sign digitally? Examples include contracts, tax forms, enrollment documents, HR paperwork, invoices, etc.
How are current paper-based signing workflows handled? Do they involve in-person interactions, mail, faxes, etc.?
What are the approximate volumes for documents sent and signatures required per month? Seasonal variations?
What signer experiences do you want to enable – desktop signing, mobile signing, remote in-person signing?
How quickly do you need signed documents returned? Are there compliance timelines to consider?
What identity proofing or signer authentication methods will you need?
What are your data privacy needs concerning document storage on vendor platforms?
Will signatures require long-term validation spanning years? Do short-term signatures suffice?
What existing systems and workflows need integration, like CRMs, billing systems, etc.?
Thoroughly analyzing real-world usage and processes will surface the must-have capabilities for your digital signature solution.
With your needs identified, here are some key features and functionalities to look for during vendor evaluations:
Compliance and Standards
The e-signature solution must be compliant with relevant regulations in your jurisdictions like state UETA and ESIGN laws in the US, eIDAS in the EU, etc. Required standard signature formats like PAdES or CAdES should be supported. Adherence to data privacy laws is also essential.
A range of options to configure multi-step signing workflows is needed – sequential, parallel, hybrid routing, etc. Bulk sending and one-click custom templates will optimize efficiency at scale.
Sufficient signer identity confirmation measures should be available – from basic email/password to extensive background checks if required. Integrations with identity platforms like Okta simplify compliance.
Evaluate how easy it is for signers to access, review, and sign documents across desktop, mobile, tablet, and in-person devices. The solution should provide a consistent experience everywhere.
APIs and Integrations
The availability of APIs and pre-built connectors to your existing systems, like HRIS, CRM, billing, etc., will enable embedding digital signing into business-critical workflows.
Interface and UX
The admin and signer interfaces should be well-designed and intuitive for all users. Complex B2B and B2C use cases should be accommodated with easy onboarding and minimal training needed.
Robust measures should safeguard sensitive documents throughout their lifecycle – encryption, access controls, and data centers with redundancies to prevent outages. Fourth-party annual audits provide transparency.
Usage analytics on signatures completed, in progress, pending, etc., provide visibility. Audit trails demonstrating compliance are also invaluable for regulated documents.
Remote digital signing should not impose specialized hardware requirements on signers. Evaluate technical aspects like signature formats, cryptography standards, and timestamp authorities used.
Validation mechanisms like timestamping and embedded verification data are essential for documents requiring long-term signatures. Check how far into the future signatures can be verified.
Options for configuring visual signature appearance, branding, required form fields, etc., based on signing scenarios streamline workflows. White-labeling options are ideal for external signer-facing solutions.
With core features matching your priorities, the next step is assessing the service providers themselves.
Evaluating Digital Signature Providers
The service provider forms a critical part of your digital signature solution. Factors like trustworthiness, support reliability, and security track record warrant careful examination.
Here are key considerations when evaluating vendors:
Trust and Compliance
Opt for established providers with a history of enabling legal digital signatures for major enterprises and government agencies. Public trust certificates like WEBTrust demonstrate compliance rigor.
If your signing use cases span multiple countries, seek providers with global expertise and coverage. They can navigate localization needs and jurisdictional nuances for international rollouts.
The availability of phone, chat, and email channels for timely issue resolution indicates a focus on customer success. Look for guaranteed response times and 24/7 support.
Review security provisions like encryption, hardware security modules, periodic audits, and redundancy measures. Financial viability also ensures business continuity without disruptions.
Data handling policies, localization, and independent audits provide transparency into privacy practices. ISO 27001 certification indicates adherence to best practices.
Platform Reliability & Uptime
Check historical uptime metrics and infrastructure redundancy provided. Failover data centers and load balancing demonstrate adequate reliability for uninterrupted signing.
Evaluate predictable pricing like unlimited or tiered flat-rate plans. Usage-based models can incur hidden costs at higher volumes. Consider free trials to test capabilities.
Adding Digital Signatures with eSigner
For documents requiring legally binding signatures, consider using eSigner’s digital signature service. eSigner allows users to add trusted digital signatures and timestamps to documents through public key infrastructure (PKI).
The benefits of using eSigner include:
Signatures are legally valid and enforceable, like pen-and-paper signatures.
Documents signed through eSigner provide authentication, integrity, and non-repudiation. The signer’s identity is verified, the document cannot be altered after signing, and the signer cannot deny signing.
eSigner integrates with major document formats and platforms like PDF, Microsoft Office, and Adobe Acrobat.
Signatures can be added from both desktop and mobile devices through a simple online process. No downloads or apps are required.
eSigner uses digital certificates issued by trusted certificate authorities, making the signatures automatically verifiable across operating systems and software.
Enrolment in eSigner cloud signing provides an option for an SSL.com document signing certificate to generate certified signatures which provide a higher level of document control than regular digital signatures. As explained by Adobe, “when you certify a document, you can control the types of changes other people can make.”
While eSigner offers various validation levels, even our basic electronic signatures meet legal e-signature requirements in most jurisdictions. For high-assurance digital signatures, valid ID verification and enhanced certificates are used.
Overall, eSigner provides a quick, straightforward way to add legally valid digital signatures to documents through a globally trusted service. Consider integrating our solution as a signing option for your workflow.
Choosing Your Digital Signature Solution
Choosing the right digital signature solution requires aligning business needs to provider capabilities across trust, compliance, security, integrations, and user experience.
By following a methodical selection process, your organization can implement paperless signing workflows that accelerate document turnaround, reduce risks, cut costs, and provide anytime, anywhere convenience.
The secure, legal, and compliant document experiences enabled by the optimal digital signature platform will significantly enhance how your company digitally interacts with customers and employees. Carefully weighing key criteria will ensure your e-signature solution delivers maximum long-term value.
For a trusted e-signature service that checks all the boxes, consider eSigner from SSL.com. eSigner enables legally valid digital signatures on documents with just a few clicks. Sign up for a free trial at https://app.esigner.com/ to test capabilities aligned to your unique workflow needs.
With the right solution tailored to your processes, your business can realize the many advantages of paperless digital signing – from environmental savings to enhanced security and accessibility. A methodical approach to selection will lead you to the ideal fit.
Ready to enhance your business’s digital signing process? Discover the power and convenience of eSigner by SSL.com