Choosing the right e-signature and digital onboarding provider

Posted by Ian Jannaway, business development director at Legal Futures Associate VirtualSignature

Jannaway: Making comparisons between platforms is difficult

Future planning is an integral part of any law firm’s strategy and many are currently reassessing how they can improve their processes, which has in turn generated a significant interest in digital technology.

They are exploring solutions which will enable them to save costs, facilitate remote working and streamline their workflow whilst maintaining service levels and engagement with their clients.

One of the key components of this overhaul is the ability to agree, approve and authorise projects, documents and contracts remotely. There has never been more focus on unnecessary travel and so face-to-face meetings are becoming more and more infrequent, which means that a need for multiple signatories to sign, witness and seal documents online and use a safe and secure method for carrying out ‘know your client’ checks and onboarding clients is high on the agenda.

It’s time for change but choosing the best technology solutions can be time consuming, confusing and at best, a challenge. Making comparisons between platforms is extremely difficult and may take weeks of research and even then, you might not be much closer to a decision.

Usually any research into available products is carried out online, yet the required information is not always immediately clear from a website and people often run out of steam when searching for the right platform, simply going with a brand-name supplier rather than the most compatible or cost-effective one.

We’re going to guide you through some of the key points and answer the important questions you’ll be asking when searching for the best e-signature and digital onboarding platform for your organisation.

How do you know if a platform is secure and trustworthy?

There are a couple of compliance affiliations that a platform must have. Check they comply with industry standards such as ISO 27001, have a recognised cyber security certificate such as Cyber Essentials Plus, and a privacy policy confirming that sensitive data is not retained.

Are all e-signature providers the same?

All e-signature providers are by no means created equal! While some platforms offer a basic document signing exchange tool, others can verify the true identity of signatories. Some providers only offer off-the-shelf products and are not able to discuss bespoke or additional requirements. They may not offer advanced solutions, such as virtual witnessing or deed sealing.

Is a white-label solution, such as an embedded e-signature block, on offer?

This can be an attractive option for many businesses as it enables their end users to remain on their secure site for the signing process and avoids the potential risk of e-mails being fraudulently intercepted.

What happens to sensitive data?

To reassure yourself that no sensitive client data is retained for any length of time, check the provider’s privacy policy, as the country of their geographical jurisdiction will dictate whether they follow UK/EU GDPR regulations for example or are bound by the Patriot Act as is the case with US firms.

Microsoft Azure is one of the safest and most robust hosting platforms available and so is a good benchmark to look out for.

What if our requirements change?

Make sure you know what will happen if you use more than your agreed allocation of ID checks or e-signatures. There may be an option to bolt on extra credits or an unlimited service option. In the same breath, make sure you know what happens to any unused credits each month; if they roll over or if you lose them.

Will I get help and support when needed?

New systems inevitably need support, make sure you have a full understanding of the support being offered, whether there is an extra charge for this service and whether it’s available 24/7.

Will the product be suitable for a legal practice?

There are a number of platforms out there, not all are useful for law firms. Make sure that the provider can offer flexible solutions and provide testimonials – word of mouth is almost always the best way of judging a company’s customer service and quality of product.


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