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5 Reasons to Adopt Electronic Agreements Software

Jody Linick
Posted by Jody Linick on Sep 12, 2023 1:45:13 PM

If your bookkeeping or accounting/tax firm is not using electronic agreements software, aka e-signature programs such as DocuSign or Sharefile, it’s time to consider adding one to your tech stack. Here are a few reasons why.

  1. 1. Looks more professional
    2. Faster/Easier process
  2. 3. Secure and encrypted
  3. 4. Saves time, so it saves money
  4. 5. Legally binding

Read on to learn more....

1. A More Professional Look

Personally, I think it’s more professional to send a document for e-signature these days. What is the alternative? You email a .pdf of a Service Agreement (please, do not tell me you are emailing editable Word documents to your clients!). Your client receives it, downloads it, prints it, signs it, scans it, then emails the scan back to you. That’s a lot of steps to ask of a client! And that workflow goes counter to your practice’s ongoing efforts to become paperless and/or cloud-based.

2. A Faster and Easier Process

E-signature is faster because it removes e-mail from the equation. As noted above, it’s a lot of steps to ask of your client. When e-signature is used, the client receives an email with a link. They click the link, and can review the document electronically. The app prompts your client to all the signature, date, or other options, allowing them to make the appropriate selections. The client e-signs, and can then download the signed document. Your office receives an e-mail that the contract is signed. You can then save the signed document in the cloud app, and/or download it and save it with your practice’s legal records.

3. Secure and Encrypted

For the most part, e-signature providers store their documents on secure, encrypted servers. To double check this, look at their website or Google this: Is [vendor name] secure

4. Save Time and Money

Using the e-signature process is a lot more practical, and quicker, than sending a contract via email or U.S. Mail (paper, envelope, stamp, manual labor to print and send). It’s a greener, paperless alternative to the ‘old’ way of doing things.

5. Legally Binding

A quick Google search reveals this nugget dated 08/16/2023: “In 2000, the U.S. federal government passed the Electronic Signatures in Global and National Commerce Act (ESIGN), which in tandem with the Uniform Electronic Transactions Act (UETA) confirms that electronic signatures constitute legally binding documents if all parties choose to sign digitally.” I think that says it all.

Don’t believe everything you read online? Here is a link from the Adobe website, which has additional useful information.

https://helpx.adobe.com/legal/esignatures/regulations/united-states.html

Now that you have been convinced, which software should you use? In an ideal world, your practice has a software evaluation checklist, so you can review and evaluate potential new apps for your tech stack in a methodical manner. If you’re using such a checklist, pat yourself on the back! In the real world, you may not yet have adopted such a formal procedure and you probably rely on word of mouth and recommendations from colleagues. Some of the key players in the field include DocuSign, RightSignature (uses Sharefile), PandaDoc, Foxit… the list goes on and on.

Here is a link to a Gartner article titled “Electronic Signature Reviews and Ratings” which lists over 20 vendor choices. https://www.gartner.com/reviews/market/electronic-signature

Some considerations when choosing a vendor will include:

  • Pricing
  • Number of documents which can be signed per month
  • Number of users in your firm sending out documents to sign
  • Ease of use/user experience
  • Ease of obtaining technical support and training
  • Integration with other apps you use

So which one did I choose? I started with DocuSign, but I did not adopt DocuSign in the end. The pain point for me was after a document is signed, DocuSign emails the signed document as an Attachment. I have opted to keep my contracts and other legal documents out e-mail, as I don’t believe e-mail is secure. Perhaps the DocuSign e-mails are encrypted, but I was not sure and did not want to spend a lot of time researching and verifying that. So in the end I adopted RightSignature by Sharefile.

RightSignature surely has more bells and whistles than I am using (just like my smartphone!), but here’s what I like about it:

  • It was easy to figure out how to use it, without training or watching a bunch of tutorial videos
  • I can easily insert signature, date, and initials boxes into my document
  • I can write a quick cover note to my client when the doc goes out (note: I also e-mail my client asking them to look for an e-mail from RightSignature, so they know it’s not spam/phishing)
  • I receive an e-mail notification when the doc is signed
  • Sharefile saves the signed doc for me, but I also download and save the signed version to my secure document storage vault
  • Sharefile does not e-mail me or my client a .pdf of the signed document
  • I can quickly search for Pending, Completed, Expired, Voided or Declined documents
  • The pricing was right for my firm

Note: I do not receive any renumeration or consideration from the vendors I mention in this article.

Wish List/Feature Request

To all the e-signature software vendors out there: Since your software knows the date a document was signed, it would be a nice feature if the software could send a reminder notice to the document creator when it is time to renew the contract. Sure, I can create tasks for myself all day long. But boy, it sure would be nice if my e-signature software sent me a reminder 30 days before my client’s contract expires, telling me it’s time to renew that contract. Of course, the reminder feature would need to be customizable so I can choose when I should be reminded and who the reminder goes to. If this feature already exists in some apps, bravo – another reason for an accounting or software practice to select your product! But I am not presently aware that it does. Feel free to correct me if I am wrong!

Topics: Modern Bookkeeping


 

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