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Records Management vs. Document Management: What is the Difference?

Most businesses are required to store critical information regarding their internal processes, products, services, and client data. This information is created and stored either as a document or official records. These may sound like the same thing, but there are some major differences.

Management of information can become tricky, especially for larger organizations. The way a business retains and manages information helps support their operational infrastructure.

There are also data security laws every organization must adhere to. This means it’s imperative to understand the distinction between document and records management.

Let’s clear the air by taking a look at both.

The Difference Between Records and Documents

Records Management SolutionsBefore we get into document and records management, let’s go over what each type of format is.

A record is data or evidence concerning a business, their employees, a transaction that took place, or client information, such as a purchase order, patient records, a canceled check, or a signed contract.

Records signify that something took place on a certain date. They remain unchanged and require much tighter security. In addition, regulations surrounding the retention of records are very strict.

Documents, on the other hand, include information that’s subject to change, if necessary. For the most part, they’re much less sensitive than records.

Examples of documents include operational processes or an employee handbook. Typically, documents accessed by a large number of people are not as heavily guarded, as they’re not specific to a particular person or event.

Document Management

The process of managing documents involves creating, storing, making changes to, and sharing files. These can be either physical or digital documents.

Also, document management procedures aim to provide faster access to information. They also help organize files to align with a business’s daily needs.

The proper management of documents can help improve day-to-day operational workflow. It also helps save room by condensing physical documents into a fixed location such as a shelving system or file cabinets.

All this helps reduce the frequency of missing data. It also creates a business-wide process by which documents are filed correctly

This makes it easier when using a management software. It allows businesses to organize files digitally. The software also provides for quick sharing and collaboration between employees.

Records Management

The process of records management achieves the same goals as document management. However, there are some key differences related to this process.

First, the management of records involves accounting for the retention period of each file. A business must effectively maintain a detailed records inventory.

The process also involves keeping a log of a record’s usage. This shows who’s accessed the records and when. It also helps determine when a record has reached its lifespan.

The software helps with all this and can aid in the e-discovery process. It can also track when a hold needs to be applied to records for legal reasons.

Another aspect of the records management process involves the proper disposal of files. This is crucial if a business wants to remain in regulatory compliance.

While most organizations have moved to digital records, physical management still exists.

Vital Differences of Data Management

We have gone over the two types of data management processes and seen a few differences. However, there are more concrete distinctions worth mentioning.

These differences may help uncover the role each type of data management process plays. They will also show the importance of a records management system.

A strong document management system is crucial to the inner workings of an organization. However, a legal obligation is in place when it comes to records.

The Ultimate Goals of Records and Document Management

It’s important to understand that managing both records and documents effectively is imperative for any business. It helps the overall quality of service provided and streamlines daily operations. However, each has independent goals a business needs to keep in mind.

One of the primary goals of managing documents is efficiency. With a quality system in place, a business can reduce the need for manual entry of important data, boosting productivity and saves on labor costs.

Also, when documents need approval, the process is fast and easy. The implementation of software makes these goals much more attainable.

When it comes to managing records, compliance is the ultimate goal. That’s why it’s imperative organizations maintain an established, well-structured process. This helps avoid fines or other penalties if governing entities find flaws in their system.

Storage of Documents and Records

Document Storage SecurityOne major difference lies in the reason for storage and the approach taken to do so.

Regarding documents, the goal of proper storage is so the right people can have easy access to files. Because business documents are usually specific to different departments, a well-oiled management process needs to occur.

The software allows employees to check out documents, make edits, and check them back in uninterrupted. It also helps track different versions of a document.

When it comes to records compliance, however, their original format must always remain the same.

Meaning they must be stored based on external, regulatory guidelines. This is different from document storage, which a business can dictate as they see fit.

To avoid complication, many organizations opt for off-site records storage.

Security Measures

Businesses must take security measures about both documents and records. However, while document security is something organizations desire, records security is governed.

The document management process applies security measures based on the type of document and who in the company receives access. Internal best practices and standards are not as strict as they are with records.

The security standards for records, on the other hand, are set by the government. Management systems must remain in compliance, or the business can face harsh penalties.

Make Sure Your Management System is Up to Date

To maintain a strong organizational workflow and avoid noncompliance with government regulations, you need the implementation of the proper software.

Document and records management are both complicated processes. However, current software can take the stress out of maintaining all your important business information.

We provide a wide range of data management and storage services. Contact us today to learn more.