Document Management vs Record Management

Document Management vs Record Management

Document and record management each have very specific functions and, although there is some overlap between the two, there are certain characteristics that set these two management functions apart.

Document management explained

This is basically the tracking and managing of the process of document creation from inception to completion. Document management has many benefits and involves formalising the document to ensure accountability, as well as automating key tasks such as assembly, approval and quality assurance.

The document management process, which can often include more than one contributor, consists of a number of steps:

  • Creation – using a blank template, the document is created.
  • Drafting – the document contents are created using text, images and hyperlinks, among others.
  • Check-in and check-out – one contributor is able to check out of the document so that others can read it and make comments on the document. Each time changes are made, a new version of the document is created and saved.
  • Co-authoring – certain document management systems will allow internal document locking at certain points, such as paragraphs.
  • Review – the document is reviewed by another user to ensure correct grammar, spelling, accuracy and flow.
  • Revision – the document creator/s will then check the reviewed document and make changes if needed.
  • Assembly – if there are a number of separate users compiling different elements of the document, then the entire document will need to be assembled.
  • Approval – the document will then be approved and formalised with a signature before it’s published and ready for use.
  • Storage –the completed document should be stored in a repository so that other users can access it when needed.

Record management explained

Records are a much more formal document which provide evidence of a transaction or decision, and they will have to be stored to safeguard the information. A record can include more than just one document – such as statements, photographs and forms – and no further changes can be made.

The process of record management includes:

  • Declaration and registration – a record is placed in a repository.
  • Access control – only authorised users can access records, although no changes are allowed.
  • Storage – records have different requirements regarding length of storage whether it’s for legal, financial, administrative or historical reasons.
  • Disposition – once a record has no more use, it can either be destroyed or transferred to a legal authority.
  • Audit trails – this is the final documentation stating how the record was managed from declaration to disposition.

What are the basic differences between document and records’ management?

To bring it into sharper focus, here is a quick overview as to how these two management systems differ.

1. Final goal of the process

Document management, users are aiming for efficiency by approving documents quickly, reducing manual data entry and automating recurring tasks. Records’ management aims to be compliant in terms of legislation. Both of them, however, seek to achieve business continuity.

2. Information provided

In document management, the information is constantly being reviewed, revised and updated. These are then used for performing a task. In records’ management, the final record is used to prove an event occurred.

3. Storage methodology

When searching for a document, it is the content that determines the search. With records, it is the context that will determine the search, such as insurance, employment, etc.

Read more: Document Management Trends

Documents and records management are valuable to every business as they ensure accountability. There are modern content management systems available to offer both document and records’ management solutions.

Read more: 10 things you need to know about document management