• Pricing
  1. Home
  2. Blog
  3. Business
  4. A Guide to Choosing the Right PDF & E-Signing Software for Your Business

A Guide to Choosing the Right PDF & E-Signing Software for Your Business

by Jen

You can also read this article in German, Spanish, French, Indonesian, Italian and Portuguese.

Simple steps to plan for and research the right PDF and e-signing software for your business.

Business is seeing a rapid shift towards a paperless office environment, accelerated by increasing environmental concerns and a global movement towards remote and hybrid work. Even though PDF software and e-signing tools can provide an invaluable infrastructure for businesses to move to digital document management, it’s important to do this strategically to secure the right PDF tools for your business and enable a sustainable implementation.

Step 1: Find Out What PDF Tools Your Business Needs


Photo by Jopwell from Pexels.

Before you invest in PDF tools or e-signing software for your business, it's vital that you consult with your team to determine what they require —and want—from document management software.

Perhaps your business is in real estate, so your primary concern as the manager is to implement secure digital signing and document sharing capabilities to help you close deals faster. Or maybe you're a design agency that needs simple compression software for easier file storage and sharing? These might be your core needs as you pursue the dream of the paperless office, but your team, the people in the trenches every day, will be your best guide as you refine what your business really needs from document management software.

Sarah over in marketing might need to convert PDFs to Word documents so she can make the necessary changes to a press release that is to be published today. James, your best-performing sales rep, is desperate to be able to split and merge PDF files quickly, so he can get custom proposals out to hot leads before they go cold. And Aliah in accounting? She's tired of having to recreate locked PDFs and secretly wishes there was a simple PDF editor out there.

Your team is an incredible resource for finding out what type of document management software your business needs. Send them all a mail, ping them in Slack, or run an anonymous survey to gather their insights on the kind of PDF tools they need to be able to work better—and faster. Even better: Have meetings with them. Create awareness for your plans and have them identify their issues, pain points, and wishes.

Top tip: Note all these PDF tools down somewhere, so you have a list of requirements available when you start researching software options.

Step 2: Figure Out How Many Licenses You'll Need


Photo by fauxels from Pexels.

Working out how many software licenses you need will be a much quicker exercise than working out what PDF tools your team needs for your business to run effectively. This will depend on you and your business, but business owners and managers usually opt for the following options:

  • Purchase software licenses for total headcount.
  • Purchase software licenses for staff that require the software to function.
  • Purchase minimum required software for the team, plus a few more licenses to assign later on as needed.

Remember, most software providers worth their salt will provide flexible licensing options, so you can easily upgrade your software plan as your team grows. You may also benefit from better prices for more licenses, so get quotes based on different scenarios.

Step 3: Set Spend Parameters With a Budget

laptop-5534556 1920

Photo by Stefan Coders from Pixabay.

Ask any accountant about the importance of a budget for running a successful business. The answer: Never underestimate the importance of a well-planned budget. You might first want to check what pricing options are out there for PDF and e-signing software for businesses and teams before you nail down a budget. Work out an average price based on your quick assessment and decide if you're happy with it or would prefer to pay less or even more.

Some pricing structures you'll come across might look like this:

  • Price per user, per month.
  • Price per user, per year.
  • Price per team, per month.
  • Price per team, per year.

Then decide how you want to pay for such software. You might get better pricing if you sign up for an annual subscription, but this is a commitment you might not be ready to make. If you're unsure about the software's compatibility with your business needs or if you anticipate potential changes in your operations, a monthly subscription allows for more flexibility. Additionally, opting for a monthly subscription initially can help you assess the software's performance and support before committing to a longer-term plan. Almost all tools worth their salt will offer trial phases. Use them! Test their systems to the limit to see how they compare to your needs. Be sure to let the end users have a go at it to see how they feel about it.

Step 4: Use Your Team's Size to Leverage Preferential Pricing


Photo by Binyamin Mellish from Pexels.

You might be worried that getting PDF or e-signing software licensing for your entire business will blow the budget, but it doesn't have to. There are people behind every business, and they're usually open to leveling with customers to find them a great deal if they’ll sign up for their product. Instead of fearing costs, use your team's size to show a potential software provider what sort of business you plan on bringing their way. Ask them how they can pave the way to a successful business relationship between the two of you.

Step 5: Ask Questions About the PDF & E-Sign Software


Photo by Headway by Unsplash.

If you're signing your team or business up for PDF or e-signing software, you're bound to have some detailed questions that they might not have addressed in the FAQ section on their website. It's your full right to speak to someone, like a sales representative or a customer success manager, who can walk you through all your questions and help you make the best-informed decision about buying document management software. Engaging with a sales representative or customer success manager can offer insights into software features, customization options, compatibility, and demonstrations, enabling informed decision-making that aligns with team or business requirements. While many questions will already come up from your interactions with your team and your testing of the solutions, here's a list of the right questions to ask to get you started...

Question 1: What Type of Security Features Do You Offer?


In the paperless office, security is everything. Make sure your information and documents will be safe with your software provider and that nobody without the right authority will have access to delete or tamper with your documents. Here are some absolute must-have security features for document management software:

GDPR compliance: GDPR (or General Data Protection Regulation) is a European Union (EU) law covering privacy and data protection in the EU and the EEA.

CCPA compliance: CCPA (or The California Consumer Privacy Act) acts a lot like GDPR, but it's there to protect both the consumer and their privacy rights. CCPA is intended for people living in California, USA.

ISO/IEC 27001 accreditation: ISO/IEC 27001 is named after its joint-issuing organization, the International Organization for Standardization. The international standard was released in 2013 and outlines best practices for organizations to manage information security via people, processes, and technology.

TLS encryption: TLS encryption, or Transport Layer Security encryption, is a special protocol for internet servers and browsers to encrypt, decrypt, and authenticate transmitted information. It’s the successor of SSL (Secure Sockets Layer).

Digital signing: Digital signatures are very useful in business, as they come with a level of security (through authentication) that e-signatures do not. Note: Both e-signatures and digital signatures are legally binding. Check your country's laws for localized regulations related to digital and e-signatures.

Digital seal: A digital seal, or Advanced Electronic Signature (AES), includes a Long-Term Validation (LTV) timestamp. This helps users authenticate each signature's timestamp and invalidate documents that have been tampered with.

Question 2: What Level of Customer Support Is Available to Me & My Team?

Some software companies offer customer support (only) via email, telephone, or chatbot. This might be appropriate for an individual user, but as a business owner or manager, you'll likely want priority support from people who know—and understand—your business needs. Find out what kind of support is on offer for accounts with multiple licenses and what this channel of communication will look like.

Question 3: What Preferential Pricing & Payment Options Are There?

Negotiate better bulk licensing prices and inquire about custom payment options like annual or digital invoices for larger businesses. It’s not a demanding question, and most likely, they’re expecting you to ask for information on this.

Question 4: Do You Have Training or on-Boarding Services?

Nobody wants to buy document management or e-signing software for their business and not get the most from it. Many providers don't offer this kind of service, but there are a few that do. This is usually a complimentary offering to help new users make a quick transition to using their new tools, so the business can start seeing a return on this investment as quickly as possible. If training is limited, set up a success team (like your enablement team) to be the ones trained and then do the training internally. It’s great to have some experts in your business who can really own a solution and support others.

Question 5: Is a Customer Success Manager Assigned to My Account?

A customer success manager can be an invaluable asset to a team, not only in helping them navigate new software but also in finding the right solutions to complex and human problems. A customer success manager should be a partner in your business, there to walk the long road alongside you. Not every software provider will offer this additional level of service, but it's definitely worth checking.

5 Quick Tips for Buying PDF & E-Sign Software for Your Business


When it comes down to investing in document management software for your business, always start with your team and remember these five handy tips on choosing the right software for your business:

  1. Do internal research into what sort of PDF tools your team needs.
  2. Calculate the number of software licenses you'll need.
  3. Create a budget for the software you want to buy.
  4. Try to negotiate better pricing based on the size of your team.
  5. Ask the right questions about the PDF or e-signing software before you sign up.

We hope this article has equipped you with all you need to make an informed choice when it comes to investing in PDF or e-signing software for your business or team. If you’re keen to put Smallpdf for Business to the test, sign your business up for a Team or Business plan, or register for a free trial today and experience a world of premium PDF software—on the house, for an entire week!

Jennifer Rees
UX Writer