What is the Difference Between a Document and a Record?

The simplest definition for a document and a record:

Document = DO

Record = DONE

A document is any piece of information, in any form, that is produced or received by an individual or an organization. Common document formats include: hardcopy/paper and electronic files. The term document encompasses paper, electronic forms and files, emails, faxes, contracts, other communications, etc. Some documents are transient. They arrive, get modified, pass through hands, and serve their purpose. Once they reach that point, they become useless and can (and should!) be disposed. However, some documents need to be kept around after the fact.

There are many reasons documents need to be kept – tracking business activities, legal/compliance obligations, general references, etc. When a document is completed and saved, it becomes a record, and therein lies the difference between the two.

Documents are what you are working on or with, records are finished work. As a rule, all records were documents at one point, but not all documents become records.

While the definition of Documents and Records is fairly clear, naming the systems used to manage them is a bit murky. Since organizations have document and records, do they need both documents and records management? Yes… However, managing documents requires a different set of features compared to managing records.

Fortunately, today’s management systems offer features used to manage documents and records. Buying multiple systems is not necessary, nor desired. Every document/record has a lifecycle and depending on where it is in the cycle determines what management features are required. The name of the system matters less, than what the system’s capabilities support. At eBizDocs, we favor the simple term “document management”.  We could just as well use Records management, Content management, or even Enterprise Content management. So, don’t get confused with the alphabet soup of acronyms, DM, RM CM, ECM, ERM, EDM, look for the features you need for your document/record’s lifecycle.

Before evaluating what solution is best for you, it’s best to understand the features you need.

Core Document/Records management Lifecycle features:

Feature                             Benefit

Create/Edit                        Create or Edit documents within the management system

Capture/Scan                    Add unstructured documents and capture image data

Index                                 Collect additional info for reports and operational efficiency

Document Security          Control what the user can see and what they can perform

Storage                             Centralized real-time access and backup of documents

Workflow/Route                Accelerate business processes and reduce errors

Search/Retrieve                Improve efficiency by instantly locating information

Share                                Collaborate with people within and outside the organization

Retention                           Enforce system-wide compliance automatically

Delete                                Remove items/liabilities after retention is satisfied

The next step

Contact eBizDocs to discuss your document and record management goals and challenges. We will help build the solution that’s right for you.