How to Choose the Best E-Signature Software

9 evaluation criteria for Canadian businesses

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What is the best e-signature software for your Canadian organization?

Consider all the agreements your business makes with customers, suppliers, and employees, foundational applications you rely on, and your current document management system. Think about short-term digitization goals and longer term modernization plans and the kinds of efficiencies you wish to offer your staff and customers.

Here are nine key things organizations in Canada should consider when comparing e-signature solutions.

Guide for choosing the best e-signature solution

#1: User experience

What is the experience like for signers? 

Today, business is done from practically anywhere on virtually any device. Viewing a PDF document on a smartphone can be a terribly frustrating experience. All that pinching, zooming, and scrolling might just make someone give up on signing altogether. 

The best e-signature solutions offer the same hassle-free signing experience whether on a computer, tablet or phone – without requiring an app, a login, or special software. Look for a solution that works perfectly everywhere you and your clients may be.

Agreements that are easy to view, read, and sign on any mobile device are completed faster, have higher completion rates and offer a better user experience.

#2: Integrations

What software systems do you use every day? 

Does the e-signature vendor integrate with existing tools in your organization? Pre-built integrations are an easy way to incorporate digital signature technology into existing workflows. 

Many organizations begin by adopting e-signature in their HR department, a traditionally paper-intensive operation. The e-signature solution you choose should integrate with your existing applicant tracking system (ATS) and human capital management (HCM) systems like Workday, SAP Success Factors, Greenhouse, JobVite, SmartRecruiter.

Does your organization use Salesforce? Microsoft, SAP, Oracle, Google? Check out existing integrations with systems already used in your daily operations. Be sure the e-signature integration exists or is an easy addition to your current process. 

Maybe you’d like to simply embed e-signature sign-off into a day-to-day function, like inventory management, to route contracts and save processing time. Your solution of choice should offer an open API to facilitate custom integrations.

Existing integrations with your existing processes make e-signature adoption seamless; an API opens the door to custom solutions.  

#3: Privacy

Is the vendor committed to following Canada’s data privacy regulations?

Keeping your data and your customer’s data private should be a top priority. Canada maintains federal privacy laws for electronic information under The Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (PIPEDA) that apply across the country. Provinces often add further levels of personal protection such as Ontario’s PHIPA regulation that specifically requires health care data to be kept on shore. 

Ensure that vendors also comply with General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and California’s new consumer privacy act (CCPA), a common practice for organizations transacting outside of Canada. 

What other data protection practices does the vendor employ? Ask about data storage policies including length of time data is held and who controls deletion of important files like audit trails. 

Moving to digital technology means collecting ever-increasing amounts of personal information. The importance of protecting critical business and personal data entrusted to the electronic signature service increases as well.   

#4: Compliance

Ensure your electronic signature vendor of choice provides continuous monitoring of the security and privacy landscape to ensure your agreements comply with the latest federal, provincial, and international requirements.

Some questions to ask:

  • Does your product adhere to industry regulations such as: Canada’s PIPEDA and PHIPA, HIPAA, Part 11, Annex 11 (EU), SAFE-BioPharma, and Sarbanes-Oxley?
  • What globally recognized certifications do you have? Look for: ISO 27001:2013 certification, PCI-DSS, and SOC 1 Type 2 and SOC 2 Type 2 reports
  • Do you have dedicated teams of subject matter experts across privacy, information security, physical security, internal audit, compliance, and supplier risk?
  • What contractual agreements will exist to provide assurance for data privacy and security?

Regional and global compliance matters.  

#5: Scalability

Is the electronic signature management tool scalable to meet the needs of your company now and in the future? 

You may only be considering an e-signature solution for one department, but it’s important to think about possible future uses because you’ll need a solution that works cooperatively across your organization.

Business processes to consider now and in future –

  • Sales: quotes and contracts, SLAs
  • HR: employment offers, onboarding documents, company-wide compliance forms
  • Legal: document review and approvals; contract storage and retrieval
  • Procurement: vendor agreements, POs, MSAs
  • Control of routing and levels of signing authority
  • Use of templates and bulk sends
  • Accessible and shared document repository

Continuous modernization of processes within your organization will demand further digitization and the ability to connect processes together.  

#6: Security

Trust is critical. The best e-signature software will meet and exceed the most stringent Canadian, US, EU, and global security standards. 

Understand what threat intelligence and cybersecurity capabilities the vendor offers. Is there a dedicated compliance team? Do they maintain an enterprise information security program that meets or exceeds national and international security standards and follows industry best practices? Do they offer support or security resources to you as a customer with dedicated subject matter experts?

More than 180 countries legally accept e-signatures to complete agreements, so choose a solution that meets Canada, US, EU, and global security standards.  

#7: Innovation

Your e-signature vendor should be investing in research and development. Without continuous improvement, the company won’t consistently deliver innovations that make the product more helpful and easier to use, for signers, for senders, and system administrators.

One of the benefits of buying software as a service (SaaS) is the continual, seamless rollout of new capabilities and features. How often does the company release new product features? 

New features and product improvements will help you keep pace with customer and partner expectations – keeping your business competitive.  

#8: Thought Leadership

While investing in an electronic signature solution is a great way to modernize your business, e-signature is just one part of the larger agreement management process. You’re probably not thinking about all the manual, disconnected steps both before and after the signature that can stall processes, increase costs, and undermine your customer experience—but you certainly want a vendor who is.

Organizations are investing in digital transformation solutions so they can be more agile and flexible, to adapt to change quickly and easily. When it comes to digitally transforming your agreement processes, think about how your business will grow and change. 

Choose an electronic signature solution built on a robust and extensible technology platform from a vendor who is thinking about the bigger picture.  

#9: Free Trial

Most vendors offer a free trial period with their tool. Take advantage of it and try out a few of the products you are considering from popular e-signature software providers.

Here are a few things to test:

  • Try both the ‘sender’ and ‘signer’ experience
  • Sign on a PC, tablet, or phone with different document types
  • Route the document to collect multiple signatures
  • Check activity logs for real-time status on all agreements
  • Invite developers to explore APIs for custom integrations
  • Contact support for the user experience

 

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