Signature-Protected Data Storage of archived SAP Documents

"We like the lean PBS solution which is administered in the SAJP system and which does not need a separate user interface. It is thus easy for us to keep control over our data." Alfred Wendling, Service Lead ERP Document Management.

Boehringer Ingelheim is researching, developing, manufacturing and marketing pharmaceuticals worldwide. The company focuses on the business divisions Human Pharmaceuticals and Animal Health. For its global business connections with numerous subsidiaries, Boehringer Ingelheim needed a standard solution to create a qualified electronic signature for archived SAP documents. The objective was to destroy especially incoming original paper documents as soon as possible and to process only digital documents for an easier handling. Moreover, some of its subsidiaries, as for example in Italy, had further requirements such as the storage of archive documents with a qualified time stamp.
For the implementation of the solution, Boehringer Ingelheim chose the consultancy firm Savento. Savento accomplished the conception and implementation of the solution in close collaboration with its long-standing partner PBS Software GmbH. The resulting signature solution with its connection to an existing web service interface of the certification body was subsequently integrated in the PBS ContentLink standard, a lean connection between SAP and storage systems for data storage.


Based on a Content Repository, the signature and/or the time stamp service can now be activated for both incoming and outgoing archive documents. Signature files, signature and time stamp are archived as additional components together with the archive document in a Centera storage system. Signing of archived documents occurs independently of the archiving process and is triggered in the SAP system via a report created by PBS. For this purpose, a periodic job has been scheduled at Boehrin­ger Ingelheim, which starts every 30 minutes and which processes the documents that have not been signed yet. Savento has enhanced the solution with some SAP reports specifically for the requirements of the Italian subsidiaries. They are used to supply signature data offline to the tax authorities. Here, require­ments have been implemented in compliance with the European tax authority standard.
The asynchronous processing is important for a smooth operation. That way, mass archiving sessions are not affected when waiting for signature, as for example during the processing of scan stacks with numerous documents. The duration of the signing process can vary considerably depending on the size of the documents and the number of parallel “document requests” sent for signatures. The certification body indicates 30 seconds as an average value for the signature. In addition, the web service can also be unavailable for a short time due to planned or unplanned outages. In legal terms, for example in Italy, it is sufficient that a document is signed within 15 days after having been archived. The signature can be activated during the implementation of a Content Repository, provided you have subscribed to the web service of the certification body. Boehringer Ingelheim considers the facts that the signature solution integrated in PBS ContentLink can be managed from the SAP system and that no separate user interface is required as a great benefit. That way, it is easy to control if problems occur with the signature. For example, in the past extremely large documents could not be signed. The reason was that the certification body had limited the document size and that the value had to be increased in order to solve the problem. 


The signature solution has been implemented in due time to the great satisfaction of Boehringer Ingelheim despite the tight project schedule. Boehringer Ingelheim is happy about the lean and also extremely flexible solution, which can be used differently depending on the requirements of the diverse subsidiaries. The range of options reaches from no signature over a “simple” signature to a signature with time stamp. Thus, PBS ContentLink could establish itself as a global SAP archiving solution at Boehringer Ingelheim.


Country: Germany
Industry: Pharmaceuticals
Staff: 44,000 employees in 145 affiliates worldwide

Boehringer Ingelheim Pharma GmbH & Co. KG is headquartered in Germany and operates globally. The company management runs the worldwide business from Ingelheim. 11,825 employees work in Germany.

Initial Situation
A qualified electronic signature was needed for archived SAP documents as well as in some cases a qualified time stamp.

Implementation of PBS ContentLink, which has specially been enhanced with a signature solution, by the consultancy company Savento.

Original paper documents can now be destroyed quickly and in a legally compliant way. Digital data can be sent easier even abroad and requires less space.

"An extremely flexible solution was created within a short project term, which fulfills the requirements of the individual subsidiaries. Thus, the PBS soft - ware could establish itself as a global SAP archiving solution at Boehringer Ingelheim."
Alfred Wendling, IT Project Manager, Service Lead ERP Document Management

Savento e.K.
The experienced Savento team offers services in the areas archiving, system integration/
installation, project management, compliance to legal regulations, programming, and application development.