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BizReport : Ecommerce archives : February 17, 2012

SMBs: Top 4 tips for choosing an e-sig partner

Online signature providers are not new to the online community, but with a growing number of small businesses doing business online there is growing interest in how these companies work and what they offer small businesses. E-Signatures can cut postage expenses, cut down on the time a contract is signed and when work can begin, giving small businesses more room to grow. Read on for our expert tips on e-signatures.

by Kristina Knight

Kristina: What is the value of an e-signature to a small business?

Melanie Attia, Director of SaaS Marketing for e-SignLive: E-signature technology allows small businesses to cut expenses and increase the potential for profitability. . .the technology also reduces the frustration level for the SMB and their customers. The time it takes to pull together documents is slashed. That means your documents are delivered, e-signed and returned quicker.

Kristina: Before signing with an e-Sig provider, what should a business ask about the company they're partnering with to ensure the signatures will be seen as 'valid' in a court system?

Melanie: When evaluating your e-signature options, your top priority is proper encryption and security. Other questions that you need to make sure you can say yes to include:

• Is it easy to sign? If signers need to jump through hoops to identify themselves, can't print before signing, or are required to install software or change browsers, they might abandon the process before the document is signed.

• Does the solution capture the signer's intent and consent? Just as with a traditional pen and paper, the onus is on your business to show that an e-signer clearly understands and accepts the conditions of the contract. Robust e-signature solutions create online documents that look the same as their paper counterparts, present them in the correct order, and record how much time was spent on each section before it was signed.

• Is there a complete audit trail? Make sure that the e-signature solution you choose uses a thorough and reliable system for recording the data relevant to the signing process. If the contract is ever called into question, it will be important to be able to quickly retrieve this data and present it in an easy-to-view format.

• Does the solution make life easier? If you have recurring documents for signature, like NDAs, contracts, releases or consents, make sure you can set them as templates. This saves a lot of time repetitive tasks. If you have a group of signers that you send to regularly, check that you can set them as a template.

When choosing an e-signature solution, keep in mind that not all are alike. Double, even triple, check that the technology properly encrypts the e-signature within your document. Reliable and secure e-signature solutions embed digital signatures along with detailed audit trail information right into the document so that tampering is immediately visible. Without this, the contract may not hold up in court.

Tags: e-signature, e-SignLive, ecommerce tips, SMB tips, SMB tools

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