The art of archive off-boarding: can you be held hostage by your archiving vendor?

The art of archive off-boarding: can you be held hostage by your archiving vendor?

One of the aspects of TrustWeaver’s 19-point checklist for ‘globally compliant archiving’ that we get most questions about is off-boarding. We’d like to share the answers to key frequently asked questions regarding this notion below.

What do we mean by archive off-boarding?

Put simply: it should be possible – operationally, technically and legally – to leave any service providers that store your invoices, within a reasonable time and at reasonable cost.

Why would I need to off-board?

That’s the point: you don’t know today. The need to move your precious tax evidence to another archive could arise for many different reasons. Here are just a few common examples:

  • Signing up to new service providers, e.g. after deciding to move more business processes to the cloud.
  • Termination or expiration of service provider agreements.
  • Mergers, acquisitions and divestments.
  • Process (e.g. tax), system (e.g. ERP) or organisational restructuring.
  • Efforts to reverse archive fragmentation

The key point in relation to archive off-boarding is that you should anticipate it in your selection of service providers and incorporate it in your agreements with them. The following points should be taken into account in assessing vendor off-boarding capabilities, and formalised in archive service contracts:

  • What methods for off-boarding are available? Can it be done in bulk? How much of it is self-help, and to what extent do you depend on the service provider to perform the off-boarding?
  • Do you have cost transparency regarding the use of available off-boarding methods, including the inevitable assistance you need from your vendor?
  • If the vendor ends up performing the actual off-boarding, what is the secure transportation method for you to recoup the off-boarded data? Who’s responsible for this process?
  • What guarantees do you have that successfully off-boarded and delivered data are deleted from the service provider’s systems?

Your ‘legal’ archive is where your most critical tax and business evidence from trading partner interactions spends most of its time. As the market continues its trend towards Software-as-a-Service and other forms of cloud deployment, we see many companies sign up to outsourced service platforms which by default, or in a relatively transparent manner, include legal archiving in their transaction service portfolio. Companies are often unsure if the archiving portion of such services is ‘safe’ to sign up to, and often stop to evaluate the quality of the archive prior to on-boarding. This significantly increases the risk of slowing down your trading partner onboarding projects. The best way of getting in front of the problem is to remove the friction and uncertainty by clearly defining how companies can take their invoices and leave should that be necessary.Service providers that have a robust approach to archive off-boarding and effective communication around safeguards in this area will definitely have a competitive advantage going forward.

It is, however, important to remember that archive off-boarding is just one of the many aspects you need to consider when implementing compliant e-invoice archiving. Join our webinar on Tuesday 28th November, 4:00pm CET to learn more about other important issues you need to consider. You can sign up here our webinar here: http://bit.ly/2zfHUjO

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Dag Hedfors, Director of Product Management

Dag-Hedfors