Electronic archiving, at the heart of digital transformation

Digital transformation goes through electronic archiving. 

However, it is important to be careful about the choice of a solution, which must respect the integrity and the probative value of the data. 

 The last few years, the main subject inside the company is the digital transformation. It allows to simplify “purchasing patterns”, to improve reactivity and customer’s responsiveness, internal process optimization with the suppression of tedious tasks or even to improve traceability in order to reduce the risks. 

Long paper documents exchange which are manually completed, delivered by post, checked, verified and seized manually again and finally archived to comply with legal obligations are leading towards a paperless economy (dematerialization). 

 

A paperless economy framed by the legislation 

All of this has been made possible thank to the evolution of the legislation. And with the introduction of the concept of electronic document in the EU. 

The common features of all the legislation (civil law, law of evidence, fiscal law, social law, employment law, commercial law) consist of allowing the use of documents natively electronic, if the fundamentals principles are respected, such as the certainty of the date, the attachment of document to a person (legal entity or natural person) whom its coming from and the upright preservation of this document during its entire shelf life. These principles give better guarantees than for a paper documents which is easy to falsify.

Companies can in their digital transformation lean on processes 100% dematerialized but only if they respect the legislation (which is more regulated than for paper). 

Fiscal law allows for several years the use of electronic invoices depending on different terms and conditions. In 2016, more than 400 million of e-invoicing has been exchanged in France being 20% of the 2 billion B2B e-invoicing. 

Employment law authorized to delivers to the employees only electronic payslip and the civil law allows electronic signature of contracts (commercial contracts, contracts of employment etc.) 

If the legislation allows to be paperless free to only use electronic documents admissible in court, it imposes strict regulations about their preservation (upholding of the integrity during the entire shelf life, data’s localization on the EU territory, protection of the personal data contained on the documents) without taking into account the specific requirements about personal health data. 

 

Electronic archiving with probative value is a solution 

Electronic archiving consists of preserving informations and documents under electronic format coming from: 

  • Management software (accountability or ERP for e-invoicing, delivery slip, accounting statement or FEC, CRM for customers’ orders or contract etc.) 
  • Tablet software (for contracts or subscriptions customers, purchase order etc.) 
  • Smartphone (delivery slip) 
  • Website (e-commerce, customers extranet etc.) 

Legislation has evolved since 2016, it is now possible to archives paper documents which has been scanned without losing their probative value and to get read of the paper version (only if the digitalization technics & preservation requirements defined by the decree has been respected). 

It’s important to know that electronic archiving with probative value doesn’t only consist on massively store documents on a server or on an external support (optical disk etc.), but also to verify the origin of the document, its format, to control and uphold its integrity (based on its legal admissibility) to insure its availability and its readability. And for some duration which can go to 50 years for some type of documents. 

 

Why use electronic archiving?

The 3 main reasons explaining why archiving is necessary comes from administrative, probative and legacy reasons.

To be compliant with preservation obligations of the documents and for the entire shelf life. Electronic documents have the same retention time as paper document. 

It is also a way to find rapidly the documents in case of a control (work inspection, tax authority etc.) or for a department everyday management. 

To be able to produce a document with probative value. Meaning that the company can bring the proof of its engagement and the execution of its obligation toward its partner (shareholders, suppliers, customers, employees, administrations etc.) and to furnish electronic documents juridically admissible in case of dispute. 

The Electronic Archiving System (EAS) selected must provide a “file of proof” containing all the elements proving the integrity of the document, the traceability of the actions done on the document and the reality of the check effected.   

Finally, Archiving allows to control the risks and to preserve the longevity of its activity (avoid the loss of the company’s know-how, its assets etc.) but also to possess all the documents necessary for an operational action or a decision making (financial, marketing etc.). 

Breaks down, servers and disks replacement, IT team thinking wrongly that in case of loss they will have a hard copy to rely on… Long term preservation of files is not that easy. Especially at a time marked by cyberattacks, it is imperative to maintain the integrity of the document on long term. 

Relaying on a specialized service provider devoting all of its resources to this activity remains the best way to be compliant. Official certifications with national and international standards (NF461 certification for electronic archiving, ISO 27001 certification for IT security management) are the best guarantee to choose the perfect service provider for its digital transformation.