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What Is DocuSign And How Does It Work?

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Picture it. You are buying a house, and you live a 30-minute drive from your realtor. Every time they have another paper for you to sign (which feels like once or twice a day at this point) you have to abandon your very pregnant wife and drive over just to put your John Hancock on that piece of paper. Sit back and consider the frustration, the amount of time wasted. Then wake up to reality: it’s 2018 and we no longer live in that kind of world. Now we have DocuSign.

What Is DocuSign?

DocuSign has actually been around since 2003, practically an eternity in the tech world. Since that day, they have been helping ensure that twenty-something soon-to-be-dads don’t have to drive all over the world just to sign some papers (is it clear this is a personal anecdote yet?). Having said that, though, DocuSign is about more than just facilitating secure digital signatures. This app helps arrange every step of document preparation and integrates with more than 300 other business apps. That’s a whole lot of convenience on offer here, both for businesses and client signers. But is it worth it? To find out, we examine price, features, and ease of use. Let’s dig in!

DocuSign Pricing

There is a pretty wide array of options for DocuSign pricing, from general access to DocuSign for realtors to full access to the service’s API. In all plans, you get one user account, with the option to contact the sales team for more. Here is what you get for your money in the general DocuSign accounts:

Personal

  • $10/month
  • Send five documents for signature/month
  • Basic Fields
  • Mobile app

Standard:

  • $25/month
  • Unlimited Documents
  • Reminders and Notifications
  • Personalized Branding
  • “Comments”

Business Pro:

  • $40/month
  • Collect payments
  • Advanced fields
  • Signer attachments
  • Bulk Send

As I mentioned above, DocuSign also has pricing specific to realtors, who often need to sign documents (and have documents signed electronically). These plans include some industry-specific features, and are available at the following prices:

Real Estate Starter

  • $10/month
  • Send five documents for electronic signature/month
  • Basic fields
  • Mobile app
  • Strikethrough
  • zipForm Plus integration

DocuSign for Realtors

  • $20/user/month
  • Up to 5 users, contact sales for more
  • “Comments”
  • Reminders
  • Collaborative Fields
  • REALTOR-logo branding
  • In-person digital signatures
  • Signer attachments
  • Advanced recipient types

Finally, DocuSign offers their full API on a subscription model if you want to get into the nitty-gritty of customization. Here is what you get for your money:

Basic API

  • $50/month
  • Start at 40 document sends per month
  • Unlimited Templates
  • OAuth
  • Basic Fields
  • Mobile Signing & Sending
  • Authentification

Intermediate API

  • $300/month
  • Embedding signing and sending
  • Personalized branding
  • Real-time reporting and analysis

Advanced API

  • $480/month
  • Bulk Send
  • PowerForms for API
  • DocuSign Connect

You can decide for yourself how valuable each of these different tiers might be for you, but I will say that for most subscribers, 5 documents per month is pitifully small, and not particularly useful. This means just about everyone will be forced to spring for a more expensive plan, whether they want the other features on offer or not.

How Does DocuSign Work?

Obviously, the primary feature of DocuSign is sending and receiving secure digital signatures. Docusign’s electronic signatures are secure, easy to use, and offer an excellent mix of convenience and efficiency.  You can also easily build your e-signature documents with DocuSign templates and the program’s drag-and-drop editor.

Beyond that basic feature, though, are the other things DocuSign offers to aid and assist the primary function of making signatures easier. Here are the best features available with a DocuSign account:

  • Streamline Process: DocuSign allows you to automate your approval and agreement processes. Using a solution called “System of Agreement,” you can digitize your messy paper trails and make the whole process electronic.
  • Payments: DocuSign is all about convenience and efficiency, and what better example could there be but this: using the payments feature, you can send requests to clients for payment. Your customer can sign and pay in one easy step using their credit or debit card, bank account information, or even Apple and Android pay.
  • Mobile Apps: While I would think most DocuSign users will confine their use of the app to their desks, you can download the mobile version and create documents for an electronic signature on the go. This seems especially useful in real estate and sales, especially if you need to travel to make pitches.
  • Integrations: DocuSign’s integration list includes expected apps like Google, SalesForce, Apple, and others. However, the list also includes such software as Oracle and SAP. As mentioned above, DocuSign integrates with more than 300 other apps, so the chances are it will work within the framework that you already have up and running.

How To Use DocuSign

My test of DocuSign covered the basic document-signature creation, but I was unable to test some of the more advanced System of Agreement features. With that in mind, I found DocuSign absurdly easy to use. To create your document for an electronic signature, you import your PDF or Word doc, then drag-and-drop whatever signature elements you need to any part of the document. This includes your signature or initials (which you can custom-draw if you would like), but also your printed name, business name, and more. It is a seamless, difficulty free process. If the rest of DocuSign works as simply and easily as the parts I was able to test, I can’t imagine anyone experiencing serious difficulties.

Final Thoughts

Overall, my verdict on DocuSign is that if you have a need for digital signatures, this is definitely a good service for you. Especially if your area of business deals with multiple signatures per day, Docusign seems like a positive addition to your day. You will find it helpful on your own, and if you have clients, they will likely thank you for the increased efficiency e-signatures can provide. On the other hand, if you don’t need many signatures in your line of work, this product is likely not worth the expense. If you are still on the fence, keep in mind that DocuSign offers a 30-day free trial to help you make your decision. My recommendation: give it a try and see for yourself how helpful it can be.

Wesley Kriz

Writing from the Pacific Northwest (read: the Best Coast), Wesley graduated from George Fox University in 2014 with a degree in History, then again from George Fox in 2016 with a Masters of Arts in Teaching. He has been writing about project management for 2 years, and keeps a running list of wacky software brand names; seriously, it's wild out there
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