Who of us didn't spend hours as a child perfecting a flourishing signature? Well the bad news is that the growing prevalence of e-signatures is making all of that practise look increasingly futile.
The good news, of course, is that e-signatures make office life manyfold more easy. If your business is pushing to become a completely paperless office, then you'll want to sign up for one of the five e-signature apps and software that we've picked out for you.
These electronic signature solutions seek to take the sluggish inconvenience out of physically signing paperwork. They're especially handy if your business is split over a number of offices. If you've already ditched physical snail mail, faxes and paperwork filing, then you'll wonder why you haven't looked into e-signatures before...
1. Adobe Sign
We're going straight in with the big boy - Adobe Sign is the e-signature solution offered by one of the most famous names in the software business.
Adobe's service offers plenty of features and functionality. It's available via both the web and mobile app, so you can easily use your e-signature when away from the office. It offers an authentication service to ensure that those applied to important documents clear basic legal compliance, and of course you can personalize your e-signature, too.
For use between two to nine users, you'll need to sign up for Adobe Sign Team, costing $24.99 (£26.10, around AU$32) per person per month. To see whether it's worth the cash, you can try a free 14-day trial first.
Claiming to have more than 200 million users worldwide, there's no denying the popularity of DocuSign. The company is a dedicated e-signature solution provider, offering straightforward to use software to quickly and easy get your documents signed.
It's easy to get going with DocuSign thanks to its number of integrations with the likes of Google, Windows, Apple and SalesForce, as well as a number of apps for mobile devices. It puts a lot of emphasis on security, using strong encryption technologies and employing industry best practices for protecting the data it handles.
Its pricing isn't dissimilar to Adobe's. Get DocuSign Standard for multiple users and you'll have to pay $25 (£20, around AU$32) per user per month. You can try docusign for free first with a 30-day trial.
3. Secured Signing
Secured Signing is a more cost effective software than the above two e-signature solutions. It's cloud-based, meaning that it's easy to access and use your electronic signature from desktop, laptop or mobile device.
We're impressed by the sheer amount of extra services it offers. For example, there's a video confirmation feature where you can identify the signer and prevent any document tampering (if that's a concern). You can invite others to sign. And there's even options for document negotiation - a one-stop service to get to the all important dotted line as soon as possible.
We also like that it's easier to customise your package and get better value as you add more users. The Team Edition starts at around $20/£20 a month, but gets relatively cheaper for more people. Head over to Secured Signing for your tailored quote.
If you want endorsements from some familiar names, eSignLive has got some pretty big companies using its e-signature software. How do IBM, BMW and the US Army sound for starters?
That said, eSignLive still says that it's equally useful for small and large businesses alike, with an optimized, easy-to-use workflow across devices and personnel. It can be deployed on a public or private cloud, within your computing infrastructure only or a combination of the three. But as well as flexibility, the software also has the protection of your company's security at its heart.
You can get eSignLive for $20 (around £15, AU$25) per user per month, or give have a go for free with a 30-day trial.
Although SignEasy can obviously be used from your office or home computer, it seems to have channeled a lot of effort into making it mobile ready. It's cloud-based - so can be accessed on the go - and the mobile experience for phones and tablets is very smartly laid out.
Otherwise, it has many of the same features as the above e-signature services, but there's a real focus on simplicity (as the name suggests). You can annotate signature boxes so that it's crystal clear who needs to sign and how. And if you find that the same kind of documents need to be electronically signed over and over again, then it's easy to set up templates for reuse.
Try before you buy with a 14-day trial. If you're a small business, then signing up to SignEasy is on the more affordable side - $15 (around £12, AU$19) per month. But that's only for one sender. It's more like $80 (around £62, AU$101) per month for the full premium plan of up to five users.