What is the difference between Document Management and Records Management?

Document management, often referred to as a DMS (Document Management System), is the use of a computer system and software to store, manage and track electronic documents and electronic images of paper based information captured through the use of a document scanner.

What is involved?

This involves the day-to-day capture, storage, modification and sharing of physical and/or digital files within any business and generally focuses on:

  • Reducing lost and misfiled documents.
  • Providing faster search and retrieval of documents.
  • Helping to better organize existing documents.
  • Improving general work processes and organizational efficiency.
  • Reducing the amount of physical space used to store documents, such as file cabinets, boxes and shelving.
Records management is the supervision and administration of digital or paper records, regardless of their format.

Records management activities include the creation, receipt, maintenance, use and disposal of records. In this context, a record is content that documents a business transaction. Electronic document and records management is used by businesses to manage documents and records throughout the document life-cycle, from creation to destruction. The version of the form that is saved containing user content will become a formal record within the business.

Records management establishes policies and standards for maintaining diverse types of records. Some, but not all, documents within a business become records. This includes the functions of document management described above, plus the following:

  • Identifying what records exist by records inventory.
  • Applying required retention periods to stored items.
  • Identifying the owner of each records series.
  • Determining that a chain of custody and a proper audit trail both exist.
  • Assisting in e-discovery issues and applying legal holds to records when needed.
  • Managing disposition (disposal of documents).
  • Developing and administering defined records policy and procedures, regardless of if the records are electronic or paper.
  • Preserving records throughout their life cycle.

Whether you already use a DMS or a Records Management system or not KoP Consultancy can assist in a variety of ways:

  • Assists in the system selection or a DMS or Records Management system.
  • Assist in the creation of a single, defensible, and relevant Records Management Policy document, and a single, defensible and accurate Retention Schedule. The records management policy and retention schedule should be developed without consideration to the ‘form’ of a record (e.g. hard copy or electronic). Any records management policy should be created with simplicity in mind so as to maximise staff understanding and adoption and to minimise ongoing maintenance.
  • Assist in ensuring that adequate, orderly and up to date records are kept, not only of business transactions but also of internal organisation and risk management systems
  • Assist in the documentation of systems and procedures intended to safeguard assets
  • Assist in the set-up of a policy to ensure that maintenance of a policy and procedures manual adequately covers the management of the business
  • Assist in the documentation the policy in respect of the retention of records determining the period for which all records must kept.
  • Assist in the set-up of the document management system to ensure that records may be produced when requested in a legible form without delay
  • Assist with the set-up of scanning, archiving and retrieval solutions whether this is for a policy going forward or a project in respect of reducing the amount of paper records in your business.