e-Signature Apps

Recently I had the most horrible experience trying to set up an e-Signature App with Salesforce. The product just did not work and the company were not helpful. I have to do a new setup for a new client soon so I need to ensure I go into this with what I expect from an e-Signature app.

I use Docusign with Conga for one client and I did not set it up originally. It works, but it has not been substantially updated for a long time due to we are too scared of breaking things as it is such an integral part of their business. Docusign has some issues and my client has been hauled over the coals pricing wise over the last few years. They started out 9+ years ago with a reasonable plan, but they do a LOT of signatures, and Docusign has kept putting the price up. They do not use one single fancy feature of Docusign so there is no real reason to keep using them, except for inertia.

For me e-Signing goes hand in hand with document generation. I do like Conga and I do like Drawloop for Document Generation, but this new client is all in on Google Docs so we are not beholden to the old way of PDF generation, so I can look for something different, but if I go back to the baseline of PDF generation and e-Signing I need to know what I need.

This other app that shall remain nameless because it was so bad and I wasted so much of my time trying to help them make their app better, did not even save the document back to Salesforce, which is the most basic feature needed, so I need to ensure I know what features are absolutely necessary.

Admin Features

  • Easy Setup!

  • Easy to add and remove users.

  • Good Security

    • Not having to use System Admin to do the integration like Docusign does.

    • Ensuring you can use the user’s privileges or an integration user for the security.

    • OAuth authentication only - no Username Password and Token (Docusign only recently allowed that).

  • Permission Set Based permissions

Core Features - Non Negotiable.

If you app does not have these features, it is not a valid Salesforce e-Signature app.

  • Two-Click sending of the document

    • Eg the whole document and settings is set up via merge fields or configuration on the record and clicking that button (and then verifying or customising, then another click to send) will send the document for e-signing.

  • The ability to define the recipients via merge fields or in an automated way.

    • Must be able to be Contact records, or email addresses only.

  • The ability to define the document to be sent via a merge field or in an automated way.

    • This is where an interaction with a doc gen tool is important as it’s usually done together - generate the document then send it off.

    • Otherwise you have to rely on a specifically named document, a field with a document name in it, or the latest attachment to the record.

  • Be able to include other documents either from attachments a document library.

  • The signature fields being able to be automatically added to the document prior to sending (eg via the /s/1 field on the Conga document or similar).

  • Be able to default the message sent to the recipients, and customise it if needed.

    • Unfathomably, Conga and Docusign stopped doing this a few years ago, each one blaming the other as to why it didn’t work.

    • The message may need to be different for each recipient also.

  • A reasonable number of signers and cc recipients at various stages

    • Eg 3 signers, 2 cc’s after signing is normal, but for different records I have different signing and cc needs and I work all that out by formula fields returning the Contact IDs or Emails that need to do what part in what order. Conga works well for that.

  • Customisable Signature experience

    • Logo

    • Wording

    • Terms and Conditions

    • Help Links

  • To be able to be sent from any Salesforce Object

    • Don’t make it special or different to send from a Custom Object.

  • Full tracking of status of document shown in Salesforce

    • Who has received it, who has opened it, their IP address.

    • Preferably updating the Salesforce record that it originated from, but I can do that via Flow if needed, as long as it is in Salesforce as a record.

  • Save the signed document back to Salesforce immediately upon signing.

    • You would think this is basic.

  • Save the document certificate back to Salesforce immediately upon signing.

  • Reminder emails to the signers after X hours or days of not signing.

  • Be able to cancel the send FROM THE SALESFORCE RECORD.

  • No one needs to go to an external signing app for anything usual.

  • Save to Files instead of Notes and Attachments.

  • cc the Signatories, not just having them download something, as they never will.

  • Update the Status of the record, upon Signing (eg Opp Stage to Closed Won).

Features that many companies need

  • Send on Behalf - the user gets to choose both who the email is from, and who signs on behalf of the company.

  • Multi branding - be able to choose the branding of the e-Signature app based on the document being sent.

    • Usually based on the Salesforce record, or Record Type where the e-Signature originates.

  • Multi domain - be able to send from different domains and email addresses.

  • Quick to send

    • This is highly depended on the Document Generation tool though, as sometimes it does take a while to generate a complex document, but people just want to get document out for signing quickly.

  • SMS deliverability, SMS reminders or even sign via Mobile device.

  • Save to Dropbox or another document management App.

  • Be able to send ad-hoc documents completely manually, choosing the contacts, or entering the email, uploading the document, attaching the signer details etc.

    • And I want that to be done from Salesforce.

  • Options other than “typing” a signature.

  • Originator is notified immediately via Salesforce if the signer has a question or cancels signing.

  • Very large documents, possibly merged from multiple sources - eg a Doc Gen, Appendices, custom attachments.

Optional Features that are great

  • Write back to Salesforce

    • e-Signature is not a forms tool, and you don’t use it bulk updating Salesforce, but simple notes or comments that the recipient adds, needs to be saved back to Salesforce, or a few fields that need to be updated from the signed document (eg Option A or Option B is chosen).

  • Send a Draft, allow the recipient to comment back, or approve for signing. That way you are only charged for the signing that is needed rather than having to cancel a heap of “envelopes” and re-sending. Allow the recipient to be in charge of this process. (This works in some cases).

  • Merge two or more merged documents into one e-Signing package.

Features that I would like

  • The users never need to rely on their Inbox. Eg to sign their side of the Contract they are alerted via Salesforce, and initiate the signing via Salesforce (I’ve never seen that though, oh, now I have!).

  • Chatter is used extensively.

  • Generate the e-Sign via Flow

Features that I’ve never needed

Mainly because I work with small businesses.

  • Pre-fill details onto a pre-prepared template. This is what Document Generation is for. I have never needed to “fill out PDF forms”.

  • Saved Templates that the users chooses to send from. Again, this is what Doc-Gen is for.

  • In-person signing

  • Signing rooms

  • Red-lining (full CLM)

  • Multilingual

  • Signer Authentication (although I’m sure it will be something I need to do soon).

    • Probably SMS authentication is the easiest for the signer.

  • Identity Verification Integration (but there are some companies that do need this level of feature, and just because they do, does not mean that they need a full CLM functionality).

  • Bulk e-Signing - sending out multiple documents at once to different people for e-Signing (some companies may need it, but I haven’t worked with that need).

  • Signer Attachments - signers adding their own attachments

  • Payments integrated with signing.

NOTEs: Document Generation Requirements

Just noting these here because I’m having difficulty with a Doc Gen app and thinking they are missing basic functionality.

  • Formatting of dates in any format - no having to create fields to format dates, because Salesforce completely sucks at that.

  • Formatting currency in any format - bonus points for full excel style formatting where you can format for positive, negative and null values (I’ve never seen that though).

  • Formatting percentages - with or without decimals, and handling null (eg display as 0%).

  • Formatting numbers - with or without decimals, and handling nulls.

  • Conditionally displaying text - easy with Word, I just use Word formulas, but if your Doc Gen solution is not on Word, it needs to be easy and robust and allow for many conditional elements in the document.

  • Conditionally displaying paragraphs, sections, bulleted list points etc. Your conditional text is not always inline text, it could be whole paragraphs or even pages.

  • Displaying Images from merge fields - we are not in 1999 anymore - this must be a given. Including Re-sizing the images to fit the desired area.

  • Displaying HTML from within Salesforce - yes this is hard because Salesforce Rich Text fields suck badly, but you have to be able to do this, at least basically.