How To Archive Your Business Documents Legally Compliant?

The proper archiving of business documents is still an issue in the management of many companies. As the accountant files the repair invoice of the company car in “V” such as Volkswagen, the secretary files under “A” as Autohaus Mayer and the apprentice files under “R” such as repair.

No wonder the prestigious management consulting firms are estimating the cost of searching for a single paper document in an European small and medium-operation at € 25. Therefore, we are advising an electronic document archive with full text search for the last 10 years. We know from our own experience how much faster you are producing results, if you are finding instead of searching.

Today we want to dedicate ourselves to the statutory requirements for business document retention. And to put it straight to the point: paper here is no longer the preferred media. So in Germany, if you have received an e-invoice as a PDF file, then you need to store the e-invoice electronically in order to prove the authenticity of the invoice. And better, you also store the mail, which might contain an electronic signature.

At the moment still most of our customers are in addition to electronic archiving, which is used for daily work purposes, do paper archiving of the business documents. The paper documents are used solely for having appropriate evidence in form of the genuine paper document in case of a demanding auditor. This is handled this way mainly because of the uncertainty in the electronic signing solutions. For the one who fully intends to get rid of all paper documents, authenticity of electronic documents must be proven by the use of an electronic signature in the event of a dispute with the authorities. While there are many solutions on the market, but still no standards have emerged in such a way that anybody could tell which system will still work in its entirety in 10 years from now.

Therefore, I advocate right now for a software- independent archiving of documents, eg. as in PDF format. The use of self-explanatory file names and directory names is of course the order of the day. Most probably, if not certainly, PDF files can be read in even 10 years. As a location, I recommend a qualified and safe cloud provider, if necessary an optical disk in the in-house IT. These will hold the data with high probability ready to be read for the next 10 years. I doubt that your own CDs, DVDs, tapes or servers really will working reliably in 10 years.

Even if the electronic signature is not checked consistently in practice yet, whoever wants to get rid from paper entirely, is doing better to care for an electronic signing of documents today.

If you have comments or questions to, then we are looking forward to receiving your feedback!