Operations Management Articles

Signing in the Cloud — Review of E-SignLive, an Electronic Signature Service

by Rakesh Sharma
Published on 21 May 2012

Contracts are essential and important for small businesses. However, the effort associated with negotiating and signing a contract is equal to bureaucracy.

This week we will review a solution that makes one part of that process simple. We will review eSignLive, a cloud-based electronic signature service.

With Signatures Comes Experience

eSignLive is packaged with experience. The solution started life as an on-premise software license business 20 years back; the cloud-based version was developed to focus on the emerging SaaS market and revenue opportunity. "We felt the need to expand our addressable market space and customer space by also going after the small business customer space using a cloud-based e-signature service (SaaS) business model," says Melanie Attia, director of SaaS marketing at the company.

The solution is focused on the contract approval process. Thus, it helps organizations shorten the process while maintaining an "irrefutable audit trail." Attia says that eSignLive goes above requirements of the ESIGN act to ensure that documents are secured with a tamper evident seal. Such authenticated documents stand up in court and provide an audit trail through their patented E-witness technology.

The technology generates signatures in a lawyer-friendly format. No wonder, then, the company boasts the US Army and top US Banks among its customers. The cloud-based version of the application brings benefits of document management to small businesses. Attia reels off several benefits for small businesses because of eSignLive. The first and most prominent benefit is the reduction in cycle time for the approval process. "Our service dramatically reduces the time to close the deal,so to speak," says Attia. "Our customers routinely tell us they get their signatures back in minutes." Faster processing is accompanied with the convenience of an electronic approval process in SaaS mode. "No need to print, scan or fax, or take time to drive to the place of business to sign," says Attia. Finally, she says the application reduces error rates by filling out as much as 90 percent of the document.

Signing Your Documents With e-SignLive

Each document in eSignLive belongs to an e-SignRoom. Each room can be customized with new documents or you can reuse existing templates. After adding templates, you can add contact information for signers. Users are notified once documents are signed. Within this seemingly simple process, the application adds layers of complexity to accommodate for multiple situations and scenarios.Thus, you can set eSigner placeholders, if email IDs are absent. Similarly, you can email documents the completed e-signed documents to all parties automatically.

Finally, the application processes documents in the right order. "This allows companies in highly regulated industries like insurance, banking, state, and local government and health care to reap all benefits of e-signature without compromising on compliance," says Attia. As mentioned earlier, customers can also sign in multiple formats. Thus, they can "click-to-sign" documents or apply their hand-scripted signatures using their mouse, finger, stylus, or smartphone. The solution also integrates with IBM's Lotus Live and Google Docs.

What Does It Look Like?

As befits a simple solution, the interface is also simple. The homepage consists of an Inbox that displays available erooms and draft versions. The solution scores high on the usability front. Creating e-SignRooms rooms is a simple three-step process that begins with naming and assigning available templates, if required. Help is available at each step and wizards guide you through each process in the step.

The Good, The Bad and The Complicated

There is nothing much complicated about the solution. And, that's the good part. Frankly, the benefits are tremendous. In addition to saving time and streamlining approval processes, the solution also enables you to define customized signer workflows for multiple levels of authentications. My only grouse with the solution is the fact that external approval for vendors is available only for paid versions!

The Cost of a Signature

The solution offers a sliding scale of prices. The prices range from free to small business to premium solutions. You can increase the number of users and size available based on the plan you opt for. You can also integrate the solution with your existing software by using their API integration feature.

Is The Signature Worth It?

That depends on whether you the cost of the contract approval process for you. I would definitely opt for the solution since it streamlines the process for small business at an extremely affordable price.


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