With today’s mobile and geographically dispersed teams, subscription-based eSignature platforms (like Adobe EchoSign and DocuSign) are more secure and sane options for sending documents for signoff than emailing PDF documents, having the recipient print them out, sign them in ink, scan the document to PDF again, and then send them back to the sender. Take one of these eSignature platforms a step further and integrate it into a CRM or document workflow, and documents can be sent securely to multiple mobile users who can sign off the documents from their iPhone.

All of the apps in this post require a brief initial setup of your signature in the application.

DocuSign for Mobile

DocuSign for Mobile is an eSignature platform with its own iPhone/iPad app. Not only is this app very clean and well-designed, but it’s integrated with Google, Dropbox, box, and Salesforce. DocuSign for Mobile is also becoming a popular integration option in some major CRM and workflow applications. Using this app requires a DocuSign account.

When you open your DocuSign app inbox, you’ll see the documents that require your signature. Simply tap on a document to open it. An Envelope Details screen (see Figure A) presents the name of the document and the recipients. Tap Sign Envelope (you may have to scroll down to see this button). You need to Review Documents, Sign then Confirm, and Save your Copy to sign a document you receive via DocuSign. Tap Review Document, and the document to be signed will appear on your iPhone screen. After reviewing the document, tap Next, and then tap Sign Here to sign the document. Tap Finish to confirm your signature and the document will appear as completed in your DocuSign app inbox. The sender receives the signed document in their DocuSign account.
Figure A

The DocuSign app is easy to setup and use for a wide range of users.

There’s also an in Person Signing feature where you can hand the document signer your iPhone for signing the document when you meet them in person. This could be useful for getting documents signed by people who don’t have an iPhone or for documents where it’s best to “hand carry” them through the process.

The DocSign app includes a reporting feature that enables you to see the Envelope Status for the last 7 or 30 days, including In Process and Time to Complete. This is a handy feature for helping mobile workers in signature-heavy professions, like sales or construction, stay organized.

Adobe EchoSign

The Adobe EchoSign app is part of the EchoSign eSignature platform that lets you send and receive documents for signature from your EchoSign document library or using the Open in EchoSign feature on your iPhone. It also requires that you have an EchoSign account.

This app has management views (see Figure B) that let you view the documents waiting to be signed, documents out for signature, signed document, and expired documents. You can even cancel/decline documents for signature.
Figure B

The Adobe EchoSign app has management views that let you oversee the entire signing process.

Tap Waiting for Me to Sign, select the document that you want to sign, and the document will open with options to view the PDF or Sign Now. Tap Sign Now. On an iPhone, signing documents with EchoSign isn’t as fluid as using the DocuSign app or even the Adobe Reader for iOS. It took me a couple of tries to sign a document using EchoSign my iPhone 4. Tapping Click to Sign whited out my iPhone screen, but just follow the prompts in the app to complete the signing process. The app appears to be better suited for the larger screen real estate of the iPad.

Adobe Reader App for iOS

Adobe also integrates its EchoSign eSignature technology in the latest release of the Adobe Reader app for iOS (see Figure C). This fully-featured Adobe PDF reader doesn’t require an EchoSign account in order to sign documents.

I use the Adobe Reader app on my iPhone, and the new integration with EchoSign wins points for productivity and convenience, since it lets me consolidate apps. It’s more free form and better suited for signing documents when full security and audit trails (that the DocuSign and EchoSign apps offer) aren’t a necessity.

Figure C

You can sign anywhere on a PDF document when using the Adobe Reader app for iOS.

When you first open up a PDF on your iPhone (either from an email or from a service like box), tap on the speech bubble icon, then the ink pen icon, and follow the prompts to create your signature. You’ll trace your signature in a box on the screen. If you have fat fingers like me, you may want to consider using a stylus for this exercise. Then tap in the PDF where you want your signature to appear. For subsequent signatures, select the pen icon, tap on the location in the document where you want the signature to appear, then click Add Signature in the pop-up dialog that appears. You also have the option to edit your signature if, for some reason, you don’t like how it appears.

Is the iPhone mightier than the pen?

Extending eSignature platforms direct or via document workflow to the iPhone is a common sense move, since so many mobile workers carry a smartphone, even when they’re away from their PCs. Apps like Adobe Reader, EchoSign, and DocuSign offer an easy-to-use and secure method for signing corporate and business documents.

What eSignature platforms do you use in your organization? Share your experience in the discussion thread below.