If you’ve ever digitally signed documents, then you must have heard of or used DocuSign. The e-signature software helps you capture valid digital signatures when sending digital documents, which can be critical to the success of your business.
For more than a decade, DocuSign has been one of the leading software in digitizing tasks, which would otherwise have been done using pen and paper.
The software, whose business is built around trust, is not only efficient at capturing legally binding electronic signatures but is also a good place to start if you’re starting out with digital signatures.
Specifically, DocuSign helps businesses quickly and easily send, sign and track agreements or contracts, enjoy a superior signing experience, standardize agreement processes, and save time by reducing manual work.
Plus, DocuSign increases the accuracy of business agreements and integrates with different business systems.
While DocuSign offers excellent e-signature services, it has its flaws.
To begin with, DocuSign suffered a major blow when it reported a breach of one of its systems. As a trusted leader in the digital signature software space, it’s worrying when security breaches happen.
DocuSign has since worked to mitigate the issue, which the company says affected its non-core system that allows them to communicate announcements to its users via email.
But that’s not all. DocuSign is also expensive for some users who simply want a quick and easy but free tool that helps them sign documents digitally without committing to a monthly or annual subscription.
DocuSign requires users to subscribe after the free trial period lapses, and you don’t get to use all its features without subscribing to its more expensive paid plans. This makes DocuSign costlier than other similar products on the market like Adobe Sign, which has a free version to sign documents.
On top of that, DocuSign can be slow sometimes, difficult to set up across organizations with many users, and it requires the recipient’s authentication via phone or RSA ID check, both of which cost extra.
You also have to pay for community-based support including email, phone, or chat support. And if you have to store documents, the expiration date lasts for a short period of time so if you forget to download something, you may end up losing it.
DocuSign is also not user-friendly in the sense that if someone signs a document, but a revision is needed, then you have to void, correct, and reissue the document.
Sometimes DocuSign documents may end up in the recipient’s spam box, which can be very frustrating. It’s also not possible to edit files within DocuSign, make documents textable, create HTML links to sign or review a document, track documents, or transfer templates.
Open source tools are often more secure, flexible, prevent vendor lock-in, and offer commercial or paid support compared to using proprietary options.
With all these issues around DocuSign, it’s easy to see why users may want to find the best open source DocuSign alternatives. Here are some options to help you get started.
Odoo is an open-source, customizable, and fully integrated software packed with hundreds of business apps expertly designed to meet most business needs.
In its intuitive database, Odoo provides project, inventory, CRM, manufacturing, sales, and accounting among other applications, making it not just a digital signature software but an all-in-one solution.
The software is designed to meet the needs of companies regardless of their budget or size, and its seamless nature ensures businesses reduce redundant manual processes to become more efficient.
Each module in the software is interconnected in such a way that users enjoy a fully integrated experience from one app to the other and get to automate multiple processes that would have required manual input.
Odoo offers an easy signature tool that allows you to send, sign, and approve documents online. You can upload your PDF file and drag and drop fields quickly and easily, unlike those in DocuSign, which are usually not easy to edit or move.
You can sign documents faster, which in turn simplifies business processes and boosts productivity.
Unlike DocuSign, which doesn’t make your documents textable or editable, Odoo allows you to move blocks around to be completed by the signing parties, submit signature requests in a matter of seconds, and track the document’s status.
You also get to cut on costs because Odoo is completely free to use, besides eliminating hidden costs like printing, scanning, copying, shredding, faxing, or posting. Everything can be accessed online from any device so you won’t have to lose an important file again.
Odoo also reduces errors that manual input or operations come with and improves document quality while ensuring the parts that require signatures have been signed.
With secure identification, Odoo also encrypts all communication on the document to ensure that only those authorized to access the content can do so while ensuring document inalterability.
The documents you sign via Odoo Sign are also valid signatures under EU and US regulations, and they meet e-signature requirements for most countries.
Odoo is completely free to use provided you don’t need more apps or hosting options.
SignServer is another open-source electronic signature software that allows you to sign your documents digitally while keeping the public and private keys secure. The flexible, secure, and completely free software eases your workflow and supports multiple digital signature formats.
The app is mainly used for server-side signatures called by other systems and you can customize it to your needs. Plus, it has ready-to-use signers and a TimeStamp server for file-formats including ODF, PDF, OOXML, XML, and MRTD or ePassport DS.
You can sign your documents and code like Java, MS Authenticode, Generic, and Android APK securely.
SignServer also provides plugins for different signature types and authenticates users prior to performing signatures online.
Unlike DocuSign, which requires you to upgrade to access more of its features, SignServer is completely free and you can sign documents, codes, timestamps, and sign ePassports too.
Its code signing solution is secure and lets you keep code signing keys safe while providing a centrally managed and audited service for all code signing needs. For document signing, SignServer is designed to perform automated signatures along with cryptographic operations on digital documents.
You can easily adapt SignServer to customer-specific needs unlike DocuSign, which limits you in terms of how much you can do on the document once it goes in for signatures.
Plus, SignServer offers a PDF signer, which adds server-generated signatures to PDF files with support for different certification levels, visible signatures, and requesting and embedding timestamp responses.
This way, you can control who gets to sign the documents, which comes in handy especially for documents like receipts, regulatory paperwork, and invoices.
SignServer also provides timestamps, which prove that a document existed before a particular time and you can use this for long-term validation of archived documents together with advanced signatures.
The software also comes with a native plugin for MRTD or machine-readable travel documents, which is implemented globally with ePassports.
iSafePDF allows you to encrypt PDF files, use a certificate to sign them, and then timestamp the signature. The free, open-source PDF protection software offers all the features that meet PDF standards so that your document will be editable or readable by PDF programs.
While it’s focused on signing PDF files, the electronic signature software has a rich set of features, the main one being to allow you to create and send legally binding signed documents.
You get to add digital signatures to your files for smoother workflows, encrypt PDF files and add custom text within visible signatures, which you can’t do in DocuSign.
The application also allows you to edit particular information on your document besides inserting signatures, which is a lot better than DocuSign that makes you void or delete the document if you want to make any changes.
iSafePDF is also portable so you don’t have to install it, meaning your hard drive won’t suffer any changes and there won’t be any installation remnants left after removing the file.
Plus, you can upload PDFs using the native file browser and edit metadata about the document including the author, subject, title, keywords, and more in a few clicks.
In addition, iSafePDF supports multi-signature files and allows you to append a P12 signature or PFX to it, or a timestamped signature together with login, password, and TSA URL.
If you have a user and owner password, you can also encrypt your PDF file while creating various restrictions so that people can’t copy, fill in, modify annotations or contents, and print or screen readers.
The software is pretty efficient in protecting and signing PDF files, besides having a good response time and a layout that works for all users. It also doesn’t strain your computer’s resources or performance.
AltoSign is an online signature creator and PDF signature tool that allows you to sign any PDF document. You can create and certify the file without requiring any additional software.
The DocuSign alternative is simple and straightforward, free to use, and you get to add digital signatures in just one click without having to sign up for an account as you would have to with DocuSign.
You can upload files from your device’s storage, import from cloud storage, add your signature by drawing it or placing it anywhere in the document, and choose what to do with the document.
For instance, you can save the file back to your computer, export it to cloud storage, or use an advanced PDF web editor to keep editing it online, password protect it, and more.
Unlike DocuSign, which has multiple features that you may never use, AltoSign keeps things simple yet still does a pretty good job with what it has.
AltoSign is also not as multifunctional as DocuSign and other digital signature software like Odoo, but it does have enough tools to help you manage documents seamlessly while meeting all the required security and data encryption requirements.
Unlike DocuSign, which doesn’t allow you to edit PDF files even though you’re digitally signing them, AltoSign allows you to view and edit the document. You can split, merge, compress, rotate, extract pages from, and combine or reorder PDF files.
You can also convert different file formats to PDF and vice versa, protect or password protect your PDF, unlock, and even share the document.
Like DocuSign, AltoSign also offers a Chrome extension and apps for iOS and Android devices. Support is available for free 24/7 and you don’t need to pay to receive customer service as you would have to with DocuSign.
If you want to add digital signatures quickly and easily to your documents without paying or signing up, JSignPDF is worth considering.
The open-source Java application adds electronic signatures to PDF files and allows you to protect your documents against unauthorized usage. You can also use it as an add-on in OpenOffice or use it as a standalone application.
Among the features you’ll find in this open-source program include timestamping, visible and hidden signatures, certificate levels, setting PDF rights, command-line support for batch processing, and certificate revocation checks.
JSignPDF can also be used in private and public sectors, just as DocuSign, but unlike the latter software, JSignPDF is completely free to use and doesn’t limit you to how many features or add-ons you can access.
FOXopen is an open-source workflow solution and e-business toolkit that helps you create an efficient paperless workflow for your business.
The software is used by government and commercial entities and allows you to keep your changes to yourself in different documents.
Its highly secure portal allows you to rapidly develop and deploy workflow-based systems, form-based web apps, manage documents, and even sign them digitally.
The FOXopen engine allows you to automatically add digital signatures to your documents making them official and legally binding.
Unlike DocuSign, which requires a user account and only offers a free trial for a short period of time after which you have to upgrade to use the features, FOXopen is completely free. You can access all its features including digital signing, document generation, inbuilt security, transaction control, and more.
OpenKM is an open-source document management system software that simplifies your work and improves efficiency. You can easily manage digital content, records, automate tasks, build your own app, and use integrations to ease workflows and efficiency in your organization.
As a document management system, OpenKM allows you to control the production, storage, management, and distribution of your digital documents, which makes it easier to reuse information and control the flow of documents.
The software combines several essential functionalities including administration tools for access control, document security, and more so you can manage your documentation better.
You can also use its digital signature feature to add signatures quickly to documents for free, compared to DocuSign, which is only free to use for a limited period of time after which you have to upgrade to a paid plan.
OpenKM also offers more than just digital ways of signing your files. The software helps you create, receive, maintain, utilize and dispose of records, and capture and maintain information on business activities and transactions in the form of records.
Unlike DocuSign, which creates documents within Salesforce, OpenKM allows you to create records that are authentic, reliable, and reusable. You can determine which records to create, capture and use in business processes, plus the information that you want to be included in the records.
You also get a workflow engine to define and reuse business logic, simplify processes, and help workers coordinate with each other and with the organization.
With OpenKM, you can also automate tasks such as document classification, electronic signatures, and metadata capture among others. This way, your productivity and quality improve, there’s a higher degree of accuracy, and human labor costs and operational time are reduced.
With so much business being conducted on the go using mobile devices and other digital means, it’s imperative to have a tool that can help improve your workflow and business efficiency.
DocuSign is a great tool that offers multiple solutions to keep your business moving forward including document creation, signing, and more. However, the software may not be within reach for many people owing to its costly pricing and other limitations we’ve mentioned in this post.
Fortunately, you can use any of these seven open-source DocuSign alternatives to help you access and get started with digital signatures and other features you’d find in DocuSign, at no extra cost.
Focus on simplicity and convenience and go for the one that best suits your needs, but also look out for the tools that offer ease of use, support multiple platforms and documents, offer security, and community support.