Thoughts on what businesses actually need from the Cloud, not what vendors wish they needed.

Chris Bliss

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RightSignature reviewed and why E-Signature should be better

There are more visible SaaS offerings, but e-signature services are fast becoming a cornerstone of cloud-based business. It makes sense – why print and sign paper documents when everything else is done online? Plenty of companies are asking that question, and it shows: EchoSign, an e-signature industry leader, reported growth of 216% between Q2 ‘09 and Q2 ‘10. Not bad for a company named for a dolphin.

RightSignature is a relative newcomer to the e-signature game, but having signed Farmer’s Insurance it’s already throwing punches. While not as robust as EchoSign or Docusign (another rival), RightSignature succeeds in doing what it does fairly well. The feature list is competitive – highlights include Google Docs and Freshbooks integration, templating and Blackberry/iPhone signing – and the pricing, while not great, is industry-standard.

In terms of user-interface, RightSignature ranks above the competition. The dashboard is clean and intuitive and document “construction” is drag’n’drop. Clients are emailed the document you need signed and presented with a clever “mouse pen” tool – when all is said and done, the document is locked and archived. It’s a neat, practical process that functions perfectly well.

Of course, I have bones to pick and RightSignature is plenty bony. Most important to me is a flaw RightSignature shares with most e-signature apps, which is to say virtually no mail merge functionality. Companies have contacts. Companies create proposals and contracts. Companies send proposals and contracts to contacts. Contacts change rapidly: proposals and contracts don’t. For e-signature to work like it should, companies should be able to merge a contact’s details into a document and send that document for signature automatically. As is, RightSignature et al. require at very least double-entry of contact details, and, if documents change size at all, they also require re-assignment of signature fields. This is a serious issue for a service that typically deals with large volumes of nearly-identical content.

It’s not like e-signature companies don’t know this, and to a certain extent they can be forgiven for not integrating with every CRM out there. Unfortunately, RightSignature and its e-signature peers don’t offer API access to clients for anything less than ~$250/mo, making 3rd party integration – the logical answer – a prohibitively expensive option for most small and medium sized businesses. Salesforce users can look to Docusign and Echosign and their native integration via Drawloop, but just about everybody else is left up shit creek. Figuratively, of course.

My final verdict? RightSignature is great but doesn’t do as much as it should. Until e-signature companies offer more CRM integration options and/or lower the access price to their respective APIs, end-users aren’t getting the product they deserve.

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Chris Bliss works at VM Associates, an end-user consultancy for businesses looking to move to the cloud from pre-existing legacy systems.