In terms of ease of use, security, space and durability, a digital archive is clearly superior to paper archiving. More and more companies are therefore opting for a modern DMS. This development was ultimately made possible by the invention of data carriers. In addition to ever-increasing capacity, these also have properties that initially stand in the way of an archive: Documents on such media can be changed and deleted. But at what point is such an archive audit-proof and what does audit-proof mean?1
Documents digital and audit-proof
So how do you ensure that documents in a digital archive that should not or may not be changed are protected from this? After all, the requirement of audit-proof storage is that they have the same content as in their original form. This form of legal integrity applies to invoices, contracts and all documents that are somehow tax-relevant. This also includes, for example, any correspondence that takes place with the processing of transactions.
So what a simple digital folder cannot do, software must do that can follow the specifications of audit security.
Standards for a digital archive
What happens within a digital archive audit-proof is defined by various standards and regulations. In Germany, these can be found, for example, in the German Commercial Code or in the German Fiscal Code.
Another authoritative source are the GoBD (Principles for the proper keeping and storage of books, records and documents in electronic form and for data access).
10 Principles for audit security
An aid to what may be considered audit-proof in a digital archive is provided by the Association of Organisational and Information Systems with its ten principles for Revision security
- Documents are archived in an unchangeable form.
- No document is lost on its way into or in the digital archive.
- Each document is retrievable through appropriate techniques (such as indexing, tags, metadata).
- The search for a document leads to a unique hit.
- It is not possible to destroy a document once it has been archived within its intended lifetime.
- Each document is redisplayed, output or printed exactly as captured.
- All content is found in short periods of time.
- All changes to the structure of the digital archive must be recorded. And in such a way that the change is traceable.
- updatesUpgrades and migrations can be carried out in such a way that no information is lost.
- All legal provisions (including the provisions on data protection) are complied with throughout.
Paperless digital archive
Audit-proof digital archives allow data to be stored with legal protection. Most paper originals can be destroyed after they have been digitised. Exceptions here are, for example Balance sheets and reports like the P&L.
However, despite DMS not be too hasty in destroying documents. There must first be a procedural documentation must be created. This documents all measures and procedures related to digital archiving in a comprehensible and retrievable manner. Only when all steps documented in this way have been completed may a paper document be destroyed.
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