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+ - Auditing paper trail without the paper

Submitted by
chthonicdaemon
chthonicdaemon writes "I am a engineering lecturer at a university, and to maintain our accreditation we are audited by a local engineering council. One of the things they require is a detailed audit trail or paper trail for our exam process. So far, this has involved a set of paper forms that are signed at various points along the process. When your external examiner lives far away, it is often impossible to get the physical form to them in time. Unfortunately, a scanned signature is not really very secure, and printing and scanning forms repeatedly is time-consuming and degrades document quality. PDF forms with electronic signatures seem like a good solution, but all the form-filling software I can find for Windows costs money, not to mention that some of the external examiners are still paper-bound and that the council requires hard-copy evidence of the audit trail. Our IT department is very difficult about allowing computers in the DMZ, and we don't have the manpower to maintain a custom web-solution (my first instinct), so the process will probably based around e-mail.

How do you approach process auditing and paper trail generation? Are there any solutions out there that can be handled using just basic tools like e-mail and doesn't involve training users about public key encryption or getting them to buy Acrobat Professional or CutePDF form filler?"
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Auditing paper trail without the paper

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