In 2021 there was a lot of talk about electronic invoices. The digital storage of this and other accounting documents entail burdens and the opportunity to streamline business processes. Substitutive conservation, then, offers further advantages. Let’s see the differences between the two options better.
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Membership Of The Consultation Service Of The Revenue Agency
A process that has been underway for several years but which, in 2021, has accelerated with the introduction of compulsory electronic invoicing from private to private. Perhaps more complicated for small businesses, the transformation has made it necessary to equip themselves with software systems to create, validate, and keep these documents. Despite the controversies and technical drawbacks, the direction taken can now be considered irreversible.
Therefore, talking about electronic invoices also means addressing the issue of archiving and conservation of accounting and administrative documents. These documents contain sensitive information because they identify movements and transactions to be reported and, if necessary, justified from a fiscal and legal point of view. Precisely for these reasons, the reliability of the management systems is essential.
Such systems involve an extra burden but offer indisputable advantages, allowing more agile and lean management of many business processes. Safe technologies and reliable archiving protocols will enable the dematerialization of company documentation and its use by the law. The transition to digital becomes even more critical when it concerns documents and their entire “life cycle” in the company.
B2B And PA Electronic Invoicing: The Procedures
Private-to-private electronic invoices adopt the same standards but follow different channels than those involving the public administration. A distinction is made between B2B (business to business) invoicing, issued by one company to another, and PA (Public Administration) invoicing, issued instead by or to Bodies or public administrations for the supply of products or services.
To give legal and fiscal value, in both cases, an SDI, an interchange system, intervenes, verifying the transaction’s salient data (primarily the VAT numbers associated with the contracting parties) and proceeds with the certification. For the document to be fully valid, whoever issues and receives the invoice must verify that the file has certain specifications: format, signature, and time stamp, non-modifiable. It is, therefore, necessary to interface with guarantee systems, which provide a digital signature, PEC (certified e-mail), and time stamp (ad hoc brand affixing systems).
Tools And Formats
Let’s go back to the provision indicated at the beginning. The Revenue Agency provides its own certified and guaranteed e-invoice archiving service, accessed with appropriate keys. To ensure correct data processing, explicit consent must be given to this service, to be renewed every three years.
Archived digital documents must have some characteristics.
- First, they must be compatible and legible. A universally valid interchange format still looks like XML. By separating the content of a document from its form, it is a standard that makes itself independent of the type of support, platforms, and operating systems.
- Furthermore, they must be protected. Especially in the accounting field, it is necessary to avoid documents are tampered with, forged, or modified against the owners’ will. To do this, secure storage protocols and strict access policies are used. For example, blockchain-based IT document storage systems are growing in popularity.
At present, many software solutions on the market feature digital accounting document creation and management packages. Once created, this and other documents must be stored digitally and integrated into company procedures. Furthermore, to ensure the entire operation, consultation, entry, in short, all the actions to be carried out must be rapid, efficient, and safe. And how is it done, concretely?
Digital And Replacement Preservation
We talk about digital preservation and substitute preservation systems in the company’s document management. Both procedures make it possible to keep a digital archive “by the law” with full fiscal and legal validity but retain essential differences.
- We talk about digital preservation for all digital “native” documents, that is, created directly in this format: the electronic invoice. The management and storage of these documents are relatively simple: data and information are optimized for the digital format. Electronic invoices and other documents created directly digitally allow for process innovation, eliminating paper support and introducing an utterly automated procedure to carry out specific operations.
- On the other hand, substitutive conservation concerns the so-called “dematerialization” of company management, i.e., the conversion to digital documents created in paper format. The passage can be carried out in various ways but generally takes place by scanning the paper and subsequent validation. The affixing of digital signature and timestamp thus give the “new” document total legal value, and the original form becomes superfluous.
In essence, the capture and substitute retention of accounting data offers many benefits but remains a service innovation. Therefore, the “native” electronic documentation and digital preservation systems allow a further leap in quality because they configure a process innovation.
Like an electronic invoice, other administrative and financial documents can be certified and therefore count as “official” documents without paper. Due to the delicacy of the theme, the transition to digital must naturally conform to standards of creation, modification, and archiving. The Revenue Agency, particularly the Digital Administration Code (CAD), defines procedures and rules to be followed to initiate this transformation.
Advantages Of Digital Accounting
Updating the accounting and administrative system digitally has many advantages, especially for more structured companies.
- Firstly, management control allows more accurate monitoring tools for analytical accounting and financial movements, thus setting the right strategies.
- An all-digital accounting archive improves business workflow by reducing human errors, eliminating downtime, and making it leaner and more effective overall.
- An electronic storage system makes administrative and financial operations more controllable. The integration between accounting, finance, and administration allows a faster and at the same time secure fulfillment of orders and payments, with evident management advantages.
- An investment in digital systems saves material resources: paper documents, physical storage space, and more. You can even consider the consumption of toner for printing, which can be pretty significant for companies that issue invoices in the thousands per year.
In-House Or Outsourced Management
As mentioned, the costs of an autonomous digital preservation system are substantial because these devices must guarantee efficiency and compliance with regulatory requirements. Various companies then outsource the archiving service: accredited bodies or companies offer access to the data and allocate the latter. These companies are indicated as responsible. Compared to substitute and digital storage systems, a company must correctly integrate data into its management software. Software of this type must be able to:
- Integrate accounting and financial modules to ensure fluidity of the related billing and archiving operations
- Manage document operations, ensuring reliability and security
- Interface with the SIDs for the creation and validation of documents
- Comply with the electronic storage regulations indicated by AGID and AdE
Entrusting the archiving of invoices and other digital documents to accredited bodies while maintaining complete control over the data through an agile and reliable interface is undoubtedly the best option. In this way, it is possible to manage all the forms concerning the accounting and administrative aspects of the company in a streamlined, reliable, and safe manner.