6 Differences Between Document Management and Records Management

With compliance and eDiscovery issues growing in importance to many businesses, it might be time to consider deploying a records management system. Chances are your business already uses some sort of document management system. The question is, will your document management system also support records management?

At the heart of this question is what are the differences between document management and records management. Let’s look at six differences.

1. Documents against records

What is a document?

Documents consist of information or data that may or may not be structured and that people in an organization can access.

What are recordings?

Records provide evidence of the operations and policies of a given organization. Documents are often subject to strict compliance requirements regarding their retention, access and destruction, and must generally remain unchanged. There are often very severe penalties for not doing so.

By some estimates, and depending on the company, 90% or more of all documents are records (which means some of them aren’t!). Conversely, all records are documents.

2. DMS versus RMS

Document Management Software (DMS)

Document management software has been developed to make it easier to access and manage documents for users who share a common goal, usually within a company. Another important capability is that it also allows them to collaborate on these documents.

Common access to documents is made possible by the existence of a library and/or repository within the system.

Records Management Software (RMS)

RMS software is more concerned with the identification, storage, maintenance and management of data used to describe an organization’s work cycle events related to statutory, regulatory, tax or operational activities within the organization.

Unlike document management systems, records management repositories generally aim to keep only what is needed for a specified time.

3. Storage

One of the key differences between document management and records management concerns the purpose and approach that each takes to store documents.

Document management and storage

The main reason for storing documents in a document management system is so that users who need to access the information stored in those documents can do so quickly and easily.

In general, these generalized electronic document repositories allow check-in and check-out of documents that can be reviewed and unlocked for future review, with version tracking and histories.

Records management and storage

Records management requires that records be retained in their original format in case they are needed for compliance or legal reasons.

Good document management must place documents in their proper context so that they are usually kept serially or in indexes determined not by internal rules dictated by the company, but by external rules.

In fact, record keeping has become such an issue that in addition to onsite record storage, many organizations also operate an offsite record center.

4. Automated processes

While all businesses in the regulatory or compliance area have to spend a lot of time making sure their records and document management are doing exactly what they’re supposed to, many of the processes involved are now automated.

Document management

Automated processes are one of the things that make document management attractive to businesses, whether it’s capturing documents en masse and placing that information in the repository, or placing it in a system. document management.

In fact, automated processes are a core function of these systems controlling document lifecycle, security access controls, and other key features such as version control and short-term storage.

These processes automate workflows so that the right actions are performed on the right documents by the right people at the right time.

Records management

Records management uses automated processes to manage records consistently, regardless of the format those records are in.

Electronic record keeping systems must be able to preserve not only the content of those records, but also the context and structure from which they originated, and often for a long time. Final records should be auditable in their original form long after they have been placed in the records repository.

5. Security

There is no escaping the security and integrity of documents in either system. The difference between the two, however, is that with document management software, security is desirable, with records management being essential.

Document management

With document management, security must be placed in the context of document accessibility for users. Authorized users should have quick access to information with comprehensive document management security controlling access to the repository.

Although all systems have ways of tracking who used a document, when it was checked out and when they checked it back into the repository, and any changes made to the document – including new versions – security standards do not are not necessarily as stringent as those required for record keeping.

Records management

Currently, the standard by which records security and record security in records management software is judged is the US Department of Defense Regulation 5015.2.

If a system is DoD 5015.2 compliant or equivalent, it establishes the standard for managing records that will eventually be transferred to the National Archives and Records Administration of the United States (NARA).

These include government personnel records, manuals, standards, guidelines, and documents slated for declassification or redacted items. In Europe, MoReq 2 is the standard applied throughout the EU as a standard.

6. Disposal

Document management

Disposal of documents in a document management system occurs when the document’s lifecycle is complete and is no longer needed in the business process. Although this can mean destruction, it can also mean turning them into documents.

The decision to turn a document into a file depends on the needs of the company and whether or not there are legal obligations to retain the documents.

Records management

The destruction of records is generally regulated by law with strict procedures so that the information they contain is not disclosed. Document management software plays an important role in this by setting up retention and destruction schedules that comply with regulations.

However, with government agencies, the records will not be physically destroyed, but converted into a format acceptable to the US National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) or the National Archives of the country in which you reside.

Final Thoughts

Document management software was created to make it easier to use electronic information storage, management and collaboration. Records management software was designed to manage the lifecycle of records so organizations can easily comply with regulations and support the eDiscovery process.

It’s very likely that you need both document and records management capabilities within your organization. Depending on your needs, a document management system may be able to support most of your requirements. Understanding the difference between document and records management and the software that supports them should help you decide your next steps.