One of the greatest changes to business operations in the last year is the rise of remote work. We have learned, as a society, how many of our in-person interactions are not absolutely necessary. Many job functions that were carried out face to face in 2019 suddenly became distance functions. The phrase “this could have been an email” has all new meaning in a world where staff meetings have a real risk of infection.
One of the business functions that found new life in the age of COVID-19 was electronically signing documents. ESigning technology has existed since 2000, but until 2020 and the rise in stay at home orders and social distancing, demand was very niche. Now almost any business that needs contracts or binding agreements also needs the ability to sign documents in a way that is legally binding and remote.
Because the need to eSign forms has become so much more common, there has been explosive growth in the number of companies providing these services. These companies, new and old, each handle the processes of writing and signing documents differently. Most of them offer a free version of some sort, but the functionality of each can vary wildly. Knowing what the relevant terms mean will help you to develop a clear expectation and choose the eSigning software that is right for you.
How are documents created?
This is an extremely important question in determining what electronic signing software is best. In any contract or form, exact verbiage is vital. Having all of the important information available in the proper order guarantees that the signer will understand what they are agreeing to and that they can be held to that agreement as needed.
If you have been in business for any period of time, you also are likely to have already the documents you need, and you may want to create a template with them. Templates are helpful in creating consistent, error free documents repeatedly.
A great electronic signature service like Revv will allow you to import PDF or Word documents of your existing contracts and create said templates. Because your documents are tried and tested, most of the content is standard, like a boilerplate, with some info being filled out in it, like forms. This means that your tried and true forms that have had the necessary review process will be available without you having to recreate the wheel. In the same vein, you could also use one of Revv’s templates to create the document you need with ease.
Many companies that include this level of compatibility for business documents reserve it for their paid versions. This means that you will be obligated to build the form you need from scratch, rather than simply converting your existing document. This process opens up the opportunity for errors, either through typos or formatting issues. If you are building from scratch, make sure to verify your verbiage matches your existing documents.
You should also look at what tools your eSignature software offers for building documents from scratch? Many eSign services do not offer certain layouts when it comes to trying to replicate a document, or they will not let you create a custom document at all. This doesn’t have to be difficult, though. Some services provide a user-friendly and feature-rich document builder that will allow you to create exactly the right kind of document.
The best eSign software will include multiple templates. These templates will be customizable, so changes can be made as needed. Great software solutions like the one at Revv will allow changes to be made as needed by either party and completed in an easy to utilize way.
What kind of storage is available?
Any electronic signing service will require storage for the documents you create or upload. This can be accomplished through traditional storage on your hard drive or via cloud-based solutions. Cloud options will allow you to access your documents from any location. Many cloud-based solutions also give the versatility of using your phone or other devices.
If the eSigning software you are considering lets you create custom forms or templates, what storage is offered for them? Many otherwise adequate software options only allow one saved template in their free versions. Depending on your business type, this could be enough, but for most people, it is not. If you’re going to need more templates or documents, you’ll have to consider your plan. Nearly all eSign softwares allow multiple templates, but the number will vary based on your plan, so you’ll need to consider if it is practical to pay for a premium version of the software or if a different free software solution is a better option.
Aside from storage offered, many free plans do not let you use more than one form at all, so upgrading may be needed after the first few uses. Even if the software seems extremely appealing, you need to confirm which features are premium and which are offered in the free version. In many cases, the free version is missing key features that you might have thought were standard or key features. Lack of storage for forms and templates seems to be one of the most common hidden flaws in free plans.
Number of users
If you are an individual or a business with only one employee, you may only need one user. Since you don’t typically need an account to sign documents that someone else generates, that could mean that you can generate your own documents for as long as you need.
The complication comes if you add employees who need access at some later date. Those people could potentially make their own accounts later to generate documents but would likely not have access to your document history, which includes all of your custom templates. You would definitely need to upgrade to a paid account at that point to allow your additional employees access unless you are using one of the rare services that allow multiple users in an account right from their free plan.
This should go without saying, but many contracts and plans deal with large amounts of money. You should ensure that your software is secure and safe. Look for providers that offer higher-level encryption and banking-level security. If not, your documents may not be legally binding in court, should that need arise.
As a side note, understanding the difference between digital signing and electronic signing is important. Electronic signing is extremely secure and is considered legally binding. That said, in certain industries, the added security provided by digital signing may be necessary. This will not typically be available in free software, so costs will obviously be higher to ensure digital signing security.
Digital signing requires all parties to have specialized software, so you can’t create and pass on a document to be signed by a client unless both of you have the software and digital verification. This makes it fairly unpopular except in industries where it is mandatory. Consult your business attorney to see if you need the added security of digital signing enough to justify the increased costs.
When you’re considering which eSign company to go with, you’re also going to want to consider the validity of the eSign provided within your country. In the U.S., they are legally accepted, but it’s still a good idea to check if the signature is in compliance with your local laws.
Make your choice
Now that you understand the factors that go into choosing electronic signature software, you can make your decision about which one to purchase. While most of the popular software options for electronic signature meet at least some of these parameters, they usually have other caveats that offset the benefit.
One option that checks all of these boxes is Revv. Revv is a secure eSign software that is fully functional in its free version. The premium versions add even more functionality while still being very cost-conscious when compared to other software solutions.
Revv provides over 400 document templates that are fully editable for your specific needs. You can create a custom document based on one of our many templates and save it to a cloud-based server that can then be accessed from any device you have. Revv has no limit on the number of documents you can save, and the free version includes five gigabytes of cloud storage, which is quite a lot of forms.
One of the benefits that really sets Revv apart is the number of users allowed per account. The free version of Revv includes two users by default, a feature that is seldom seen. If you upgrade to a paid account, the Pro Plus level includes 50 separate users for a price less than many companies charge for one or two. Since most companies charge per user, the price difference adds pretty quickly when comparing Revv for a larger company.
Revv uses secure eSignature as its standard, allowing you to have a fully functional signing service at a reasonable cost that is still fully legally binding. These documents can be created, delivered, and signed within minutes using cloud services.
In short, Revv is a complete, full-featured solution in its free version. It carries features that many other companies do not offer in their mid-level paid versions, and in some cases, they do not offer similar features at all. If you are in the market for electronic signature software, you should see if Revv is right for you.