Do PDF/A and Enterprise Content Management systems complement each other (perfectly)?

By Dietrich von Seggern, callas software

There are numerous tools on the market, including freeware, with which users can create PDFs. But are the results always satisfactory? Not always, as it can happen that a certain PDF file can be opened with one reader and not with another.

In addition, the PDF format is not suitable for long-term archiving. Invoices or other documents that have to be stored for decades should therefore be stored in PDF/A format in the ECM system. The ECM system also uses appropriate mechanisms to ensure that documents are stored unchangeably, as required by law.

Numerous ECM providers, therefore, already integrate our PDF/A technology via an SDK (Software Development Kit). Their users can then - integrated into their document processes - create PDF/A files or check their conformity.

More recently the PDF/A-3 format is offering capabilities that enrich the scope of services of the ECM system. PDF/A-3 is able to embed any kind of document in a PDF/A file. The PDF thus becomes a kind of "ZIP archive with user interface". Thus, users can elegantly combine several documents in one file.

PDF/A-3 is useful for hybrid archiving, i.e. combining the source document like an Office file with the associated PDF/A file. In a PDF/A-3 file, the original e-mail can then be stored in the ECM system together with its archivable counterpart in a revision-proof manner.

Another example is the storage of invoices. Data that is extracted from an invoice via OCR can be stored in a separate file and archived along with the invoice in a PDF/A-3 file.

PDF/A-3 can also be used to elegantly compile files, such as documents and drawings that are created within a project.

Another example of its application is the generation and processing of ZUGFeRD invoices. For incoming invoices, callas pdfaPilot automatically extracts the contained invoice data in XML format and forwards them to systems for processing. The PDF/A invoice is then stored in the ECM system.

PDF/A and especially PDF/A-3 and ECM complement each other perfectly. PDF/A-3 can additionally increase the benefits of digital processes, since connections between documents can also be displayed outside the ECM system.

There are numerous advantages for ECM users with regard to document management and distribution. In addition, its use ensures that the PDF files stored in the ECM system can be reproduced at any time.

Dietrich von Seggern is Managing Director at callas software, and ISO Liaison Officer at the PDF Association.