Despite efforts among many businesses to go paperless, the reality is that users often print documents solely to record signatures reliably. In some offices, employees also still fax documents back and forth to record signatures.
Adobe’s PDF format supports signatures but requires the full version of Acrobat to create documents — and works only with PDF documents.
Adobe’s eSign services in the Adobe Document Cloud (Adobe Acrobat DC) provides an easy alternative for integrating signatures into existing PDF documents, and it provides a management system to archive and manage documents.
Formerly known as EchoSign, the eSign tool lets a user embed a signature block into a PDF and control the type of information and authentication at a granular level. The user can create separate blocks for street address, city, state and ZIP code, as well as a printed name and signature, using a process that can be done via a drag-and-drop interface.
With Acrobat DC, designating a chain of signatures for an approval process is straightforward. A systems administrator can set the system to automatically route documents through the business’s approval chain via email. Fields in the signature block can be made optional or mandatory, so that incomplete documents cannot be returned. Fields can also be designated as editable or read-only, and the document owner can create other types of fields, such as checkboxes or boxes for initials on each page.
The eSign system also lets designers insert codes for fields into document headers and footers, making the process easier to automate. The system also supports the addition of supporting documents via a text box so that a reader can upload additional documents into the system.
Acrobat DC with eSign seamlessly integrates with existing versions of Office from 2007 on. The system also lets users print documents as PDF files to ensure document interchange with other organizations and to protect documents so that others can read but not edit them. Plus, it integrates with Outlook to make the process of sending documents for approval and tracking straightforward.
Seamless: Integrates with recent versions of Office for a transparent experience
Auditable: Provides management and archiving of documents as well as authentication of approvals
Collaborative: Collects signatures, addresses and other information from one or more people
OS: Windows 7 and 8; Mac OS X
Compatibility: Microsoft Office 365; Office 2013, 2010 and 2007
Compliance: HIPAA, ISO 27001, PCI DSS Version 3.0
Email integration: Sends and tracks files via native email applications
Price: Starts at $12.99 a month