Building vs. buying an eSignature API: Here’s what businesses need to know

Should businesses invest in building an eSignature API?

As more and more businesses are looking to use scalable and flexible software, API-driven development is gaining momentum in 2022. APIs (application programming interfaces) serve as software intermediaries that enable data transmission while making it possible to seamlessly integrate multiple software applications into enterprise platforms, websites, or CRM systems. Implementing an eSignature API, such as the signNow API, is becoming the go-to option for businesses of all sizes that want a flexible integration for electronic signature capabilities with the apps they use on a daily basis.

With that said, the question “should I build or buy an eSignature API?” is becoming a pressing one for businesses across the globe. This blog will provide business owners with the pros and cons of building vs. buying an eSignature API. But before that, we need to answer a more urgent question – does your business actually need an eSignature API, or will a web-based eSignature solution suffice?

Web-based eSignature solution vs. eSignature API: which one should you choose?

Recent adopters of eSignature may wonder if they’ll need an API or whether they should just stick with a web-based eSignature solution to handle their digital document workflows. Choosing the best eSignature app for business depends on a company’s needs and the desired level of integration. eSignature alternatives on the market offer flexible plans to fit teams of different sizes. 

Feel free to compare the plans and pricing for signNow and the signNow API to make the right decision.

Watch the signNow API in action. Create your developer account and upload documents, request signatures, and check the status of your document.

If your business requires a flexible and customizable eSignature collector that integrates with multiple applications, the signNow API is the best option. The signNow API empowers users to complete entire document approval cycles. You can sign and send documents for signing, request payments, create and pre-fill reusable templates, and track the status of documents.

The chart below compares different aspects of eSignature to help businesses determine if they should opt for the signNow API or the web-based signNow eSignature:

signNowsignNow API
Transaction volumesLow / MediumMedium / High
eSignature experienceEmbedded eSignature isn’t requiredEmbedded eSignature is required
BrandingBranded workflowsBranding or white-labelling
Development resourcesDoesn’t require development resourcesRequires development resources

signNow API vs web-based signNow eSignature

And now it’s time to delve deep into whether to build or buy an eSignature API.

Building vs. buying an eSignature API

So, should a business invest time and resources into building an eSignature API? After much trial and error, most businesses end up outsourcing the development and maintenance of an eSignature API to a vendor company. This is because the cost of development, updating, and maintenance of an in-house system becomes more expensive over time compared to the actual lifetime of the tool.

The process of building an eSignature API usually proceeds as follows:

  1. Developing the back-end and front-end to capture an electronic signature.
  2. Building and maintaining support for eSignature capabilities, such as signature options, bulk invites, document sharing, font and color options, template links, etc.
  3. Adding and maintaining support for integrations with third-party applications like Salesforce, Google, Zapier, Workplace from Facebook, and many more.
  4. Maintaining compliance with domestic and international eSignature laws, regulations, and security standards such as SOC II, 21 CFR Part 11, HIPAA, eIDAS, etc.
  5. Setting up and maintaining support for internet browsers, eSignature on mobile devices, etc.

All of the above requires a dedicated team of professional software developers and a sizable investment.

5 reasons to buy an eSignature API

  • Time-consuming development process. Building an eSignature solution from scratch can take months or even years. Meanwhile, deploying a ready-made API should only take up to three days. Once the API solution has been deployed, the setup doesn’t take much time. For instance, the signNow API allows you to configure and set up eSignature workflows according to your company’s needs in less than ten minutes.
  • Cost-effectiveness. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median salary for a software developer in the U.S. has reached a staggering $110K per year and is still rising. Due to the realities of the pandemic, only large enterprises can afford to commit a team of software developers to build an eSignature API or other software solutions in-house. Hence, more and more small-to-medium-sized businesses and enterprises are choosing to buy an eSignature API from an authorized vendor. This will almost always be more cost-effective and result in a better experience for users and admins.
  • Industry-leading compliance with international laws and security standards. eSignature vendors work to ensure their eSignature API complies with security standards that govern digital transactions and electronic signatures. The signNow API complies with the GDPR, SOC 2 Type II and PCI DSS certifications, and CCPA, to name a few. On top of that, purchasing a vendor’s built eSignature API ensures compliance with specialized industry regulations – i.e., the signNow API complies with HIPAA, 21 CFR Part 11, ESIGN, and UETA.
  • Access to documentation and support. Building an eSignature API in-house goes hand-in-hand with maintaining support and investing in server hardware. eSignature vendors are tasked with managing these responsibilities for customers. For instance, signNow provides extensive API documentation and detailed step-by-step signNow API video guides on YouTube to help development teams integrate the signNow API. And if there’s an issue that needs to be resolved, signNow’s solution engineers will help integrate the signNow API into your products and services.
  • More time for priority tasks and projects. Finally, building an eSignature API in-house requires a considerable investment of time and resources, diverting attention away from priority business tasks and projects. Deploying a ready-made API solution allows businesses to concentrate on what’s essential while taking much of the workload off the IT department’s shoulders.

It needs mentioning that the signNow API has proven to help customers across different industries – from a software development company to a remote online notarization services provider and even an electronic document management platform for youth sports organizations. signNow aims to provide an exquisite eSignature experience so that customers can keep investing in their business.

‍How SportsForms uses the signNow API to streamline their electronic document management

SportsForms, an electronic document management platform for youth sports organizations, provides online registration for athletic events, digital liability form signing, and similar digital paperwork services for athletic teams, leagues, and organizations. After switching to the signNow API from Zapier, SportsForms made immediate use of the greater functionality and flexibility. SportsForms is now using an API with signNow for document generation and eSignature collection.

Here’s what Michael Brown, the founder and owner of SportsForms, had to say about using the signNow API:

“We see constant improvements in signNow, especially with regards to the interface and UX. Both web and mobile interfaces are getting better and becoming more flexible with every update. This is good for us as a user and even better for us as a vendor since we are able to offer a more fine-tuned experience for our sports teams.”
Michael Brown,
the founder and owner of SportsForms

SportsForms performs competitive analyses on a regular basis and these analyses continue to confirm that the signNow API was the right choice for running their business:

“Honestly, we looked at HelloSign, and it does not have all the features we need. And DocuSign is not right for us from a cost perspective since it charges per envelope.”
Michael Brown,
the founder and owner of SportsForms

Instead of investing in building their eSignature API, SportsForms chose to buy it from a trusted vendor like signNow.

The bottom line

In conclusion, if you have the time, money, and specific needs that most electronic signature solutions on the market can’t address — building an eSignature API is the way to go. However, if you need to accelerate digital transformation in your organization and don’t have the extra time or resources to develop a custom eSignature API solution — sign up for a Free Trial to test the capabilities of the signNow API for free. The signNow API’s free trial offers 250 free signature invites which amounts to a $500 value.

Build your own eSignature integration with the signNow API. Try it for FREE!

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