Building vs. Buying an eSignature API

Tina Eaton
December 11, 2018
minutos de lectura
Building vs. Buying an eSignature API
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Cambio de imagen, pero ¡el mismo gran producto! HelloSign ahora es Dropbox Sign.

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Should I build or buy any eSignature API? 

We get that question a lot here at Dropbox Sign. In this blog, we'll tackle the age-old (well, at least as old as software's been around) question and help you determine whether it’s time to invest in buying an eSignatures solution.

But before we get to whether you should build or buy an eSignature API, let's address the question that usually precedes the build vs. buy question: do I even need an eSignature API or can I stick with an eSignature app?

Do I Need an eSignature API or an App?

As you begin using eSignatures in your business, it's only natural to wonder if you need an API or if you can simply handle your documents via a no-code eSignature tool. Choosing the best solution depends on your company’s needs and your desired level of integration.

For teams that want a non-embedded experience or who don’t want to deal with any coding, a standalone eSignature app like Dropbox Sign is a great option. For teams of 10 or more, Dropbox Sign has a secure and scalable enterprise eSignature platform. We’re also offer lots of integrations, including our new Salesforce integration which is the only tool currently on the market that allows users to prepare, edit, and send documents for signature without leaving their Salesforce instance.

However, if you need a customizable eSignature collector that embeds seamlessly into your workflow, an eSignature API like the Dropbox Sign API is your best bet.

Code example screenshot of the Dropbox Sign API in background and rendered "Create signature" window screenshore in foreground

As an API-first company, Dropbox Sign prioritizes developing and supporting our API unlike anyone else in the industry. We focus on making our API easy to implement, hassle free, feature rich, and fully customizable. We want our customers to use and enjoy all those great benefits we mentioned earlier like compliance management, hands-off maintenance, flawless premium branding, and more.

If you’re still not sure whether to choose an app or an API, here’s a quick chart to help you figure out which solution is the best fit for your business:

Chart showing tradeoffs between Dropbox Sign and Dropbox Sign API products

Now that you have a better idea that an eSignature API is the right solution for you (or maybe you discovered the Dropbox Sign app fits better with your needs!) let's dive into whether to build or buy that eSignature API.

Should I Build or Buy My eSignature API?

We work, and have worked, with a lot of companies that have pondered the “build or buy” dilemma when it comes to an eSignature API. What we can tell you from these experiences is that most of them eventually figured out that it was a better investment in both the short- and long-term to outsource the development and maintenance to an eSignature professional like Dropbox Sign.

While a home-grown system may seem better at a glance; the cost of building, improving, and maintaining an in-house system becomes prohibitive when you take into account the lifetime of the tool.

Consider the initial and ongoing time it’ll take your team to…

  • Develop a back and front end to capture an electronic signature.
  • Adhere to the various domestic and international eSignature laws and regulations including SOC II, HIPAA, eIDAS, etc.
  • Build and maintain functionality such as signature options, bulk send, font and color options, template links, and more.
  • Add and maintain integrations to other systems like Salesforce, Google, and Oracle.
  • Set up and maintain support for internet browsers, mobile devices, form factors, and hardware sizes.

In general, unless you have a bored development team and an extremely rare use case for eSignatures, buying an eSignature API will always be more cost effective and result in a better experience for users and admins.

Other reasons to buy an eSignature API:

  • You’ll be eSigning in days instead of months. The average Dropbox Sign API integration is completed in just 2.5 days–the fastest in the industry. Building an eSignature solution from scratch takes months, even years. With the use of Dropbox Sign, your dev team can get valuable time back so that they can tackle the tough problems that are unique to your business.
  • Access to testing and troubleshooting resources. We measure our success by how successful our customers are. Our API Support Team is dedicated to helping our users integrate the Dropbox Sign API into their products and services. Testing our API is always free, and we have an API dashboard to help your team as you integrate.
  • You can focus on what you do best. Dropbox Sign is built to fit seamlessly into any business model. We continually invest in our product development so that
    we can provide the very best eSignature experience so you can keep investing in your core business.

eSignatures Are Our Expertise

At Dropbox Sign, we’re fortunate that we were able to stop grappling with the question of building versus buying a long time ago—we spent several years and several hundreds of thousands of dollars creating an eSignature API that’s secure, compliant, legally binding, and an absolute pleasure for both consumers and admin to use. And we did it all to help everyone from SMBs (read "Why Dropbox Sign is Perfect for SMBs") to enterprise organizations (read "Why Dropbox Sign is Ideal for Enterprise") break out of the build vs. buy vortex for good.

If you’ve got the time, the money, and very distinct needs—by all means, build your own eSignature API. But, if like most companies, you need to get ahead of the digital transformation curve and don’t exactly have extra time or resources lying around to build a custom eSignature solution—we’ve got just the API for that.

Want to test out the API for yourself! Get started here.

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