At Rydoo, we are constantly striving to make expense management effortless for our clients while ensuring compliance with local regulations. In our pursuit to provide our customers with a seamless paperless experience, we embarked on a journey that would lead us to obtain the German IDW PS880 certification, which allows companies to easily go fully paperless in accordance with the German GoBD.

When I joined Rydoo as a Product Expert, I became deeply involved in the area of local compliance and Rydoo’s compatibility with all types of rules and regulations. With a background in law and a passion for technology, I am committed to bridging the gap between compliance and innovative solutions. Given my role’s focus on this topic — which you can read all about in my last article for our blog about the Compliance Centre Project —, I naturally became involved in the project with a multidisciplinary team. Without them, I’m not sure I would have been able to achieve this goal.

The road to a paperless Germany

When we set ourselves on achieving this certification, we did it as a way to make managing expenses even easier for all our customers — and future customers! — in Germany. We knew that the requirements in the country were complex, to the point where some customers would even believe that it wasn’t possible to do paperless in the country, so they were still dealing with all the struggles that handling expenses with paper receipts and invoices implied.

Difficulties in retrieving paper receipts and invoices when necessary, facing the risk of losing or damaging the paper and dealing with the risk of fines in case of an audit are just a few of the issues German companies faced by not being able to go paperless. Some benefits of it include being able to stay up to date on all expenses — even for remote employees —, or reducing costs on office supplies such as print toners, etc.

Rydoo’ers realised that there was a simple way to not only eliminate this pain point for our customers and future customers but also to give smaller organisations the possibility to go fully paperless.

But for a company to go paperless in Germany, they had to be compliant with the principles set out by by the GoBD (Grundsätze zur ordnungsmäßigen Führung und Aufbewahrung von Büchern, Aufzeichnungen und Unterlagen in elektronischer Form sowie zum Datenzugriff), an interpretation of the law by the German tax authorities and published by the German Federal Ministry of Finance, that sets out some principle rules that need to be followed so that organisations are allowed to digitally store their receipts. According to the GoBD, organisations need to be able to test the traceability and verifiability, completeness, accuracy, order, immutability and timely bookings and records for all of their transactions. You can learn more about every one of these principles in the German Paperless article of Rydoo’s Compliance Centre.

When we decided to embark on this journey, some of our bigger clients in Germany had already done an audit to their processes, so their organisations were able to manage their expenses without paper. But in order to achieve this, they had to work with an external audit partner that needed to evaluate all of their processes from start to finish, which included evaluating if Rydoo, as their expense management software service provider, fitted the criteria established by the German Government. This, I soon realised, was something not all companies had a chance to do, especially smaller organisations, given that the process requires a lot of time-consuming steps — and costs — that not all companies have the bandwidth to support.

Rydoo’ers then realised that there was a simple way to not only eliminate this pain point for our customers and future customers but also to give smaller organisations the possibility to go fully paperless without having to go through an audit. How could we do that? By obtaining the GoBD certification ourselves.

Around the time I joined Rydoo, in 2022, the German paperless project was already under development. I joined some other members of the different areas of the team, from Product to Legal and even Engineering, given that it implied knowledge from different areas. Elisa, who’s a product manager, provided her expertise in facilitating the audit from the product side, whilst Diana shared some of her knowledge from a legal standpoint, which was crucial to assure we were abiding by all the necessary legislation.

Like it happened for other companies, to obtain this certification Rydoo’s software had to go through an extensive audit that required meticulous attention to detail. For that, we partnered up with PwC, an external auditing party, who conducted the audit and analysed all of our product features, providing all the necessary feedback that would allow us to implement changes that were crucial to obtaining the certification.

During this audit, the team at PwC accessed our system and even tested it out for a while, so that they could attest to our digitisation process, how our system allows us to put timestamps, how expenses are signed off on and even how we track all of the updates to each expense. After this analysis, the team shared their feedback and advised Rydoo’s team on the adjustments we would have to implement so our software was more tailored to the principles set by the GoBD.

It was a long time coming, but there’s nothing like the feeling of getting that final email sharing the good news and sensing that your job was done.

One of the things we had to work on was expanding our audit log tracking. This meant making a few improvements to our backend and involving our Skynet Squad, which is always working on developing more features to improve our product. For that, the team had to reorganise their priorities and work on developing these upgrades, combined with all of their other projects. But thanks to their amazing efforts and hard work, German companies that wish to go fully paperless can now simply reach out to Rydoo and we can enable our German Paperless Module. This module provides the ability to track some changes within an organisation’s account, making it more fitting for the principles set up by the GoBD.

After we implemented these new adjustments, PwC did a second audit, and we finally got the green light! We were thrilled when we received the news that we had obtained this certification, meaning Rydoo was finally ready to help its German customers go fully paperless. It was a long time coming, but there’s nothing like the feeling of getting that final email sharing the good news and sensing that your job was done. And, of course, we had to pop some confetti’s to celebrate it! Now… looking forward to the future.

The future of Paperless

From past experience with other countries, German businesses that wish to go paperless have more than enough reasons to take that extra step. You can learn all about the reasons why businesses should opt for Paperless Expense Management on the CFO Corner.

Also, it’s easier than ever now! All that companies need to do is reach out to one of our experts and Rydoo will provide them with a pre-filled document that illustrates how data is processed and how records are kept in the organisations. Learn more on our Compliance Centre.

We remain committed to expanding our range of paperless certifications. Currently, our team is actively working on securing paperless certificates for Switzerland and Japan, so stay tuned for more updates.