Records & Document Management
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Records Management, Document Management and Content Management.

Records and Documents

Records are different from documents. Records cannot be modified or deleted except in controlled circumstances, they have retention controls and they are arranged in a structure.
Document management applies specifically to the management of discreet documents and images throughout their lifecycle; typical functionality includes acquisition, organisation, versioning, access control, and archiving.
Content management focuses on the management of the data within a document, typically a web document.


A Record is defined as a document or other data that is regarded as complete and unchangeable. It may exist as paper, as a scanned image or electronically.  

A Document is defined as information, stored on paper, as a scanned image, or electronically, that may be subject to revision.

Records Management

The impact of information technology and electronic records has compelled records managers and archivists to analyse the scope of their work.

A working definition of Records Management that reflects most records managers’ experiences and practices has been defined by the United States National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) as follows:

"There are many, though similar, definitions of records management. One common one is "the field of management responsible for the systematic control of the creation, maintenance, use, and disposition of records." … it is the planning, controlling, directing, organizing, training, promoting, and other managerial activities involved in records creation, maintenance and use, and disposition in order to achieve adequate and proper documentation of the policies and transactions of the (organization) and effective and economical management of operations.  

ISO 15489 (BS ISO 15489-1:2001) is the international standard on records management.

Records management addresses the life cycle of records, i.e., the period of time that records are in the custody of the organisation. The life cycle usually consists of three stages:

  • Creation or receipt

  • Maintenance and use

  • Disposition

Tools for maintaining and using records include file plans, indexes, controlled vocabularies, taxonomies, data dictionaries, and access and security procedures.”

Alliance PaperChase is Archive & Records Management software using barcode or RFiD labels to track physical files.

Document Management

Document Management enables organisations to manage their documents in an electronic format. Typically a large number of documents are stored for subsequent retrieval.

Document Management systems can be characterised as follows:

  • focused on managing digital documents (like Word, Excel, etc files)
  • each document is fairly large, and self-contained
  • there are few (if any) links between documents
  • provides limited integration with repository (check-in, check-out, etc)
  • focused primarily on storage and archiving
  • targeted at storing and presenting documents as scanned images, or in their native format.

Document Management includes the ability to restrict access to certain documents or group of documents to only authorised users. Along with security controls, these technologies enable users to be granted different levels of access.

For example, the author of a document might only grant read access to all users outside of a specific department while granting "check-in/out" control to others who are working on updating the document. As the other users prepare to update the document, they would "check" the document out of the library, update the information, and then "check" the document back in.

Document Management systems ensure that any other user attempting to check the document out would firstly not be allowed to check it out, and secondly they would be notified that someone already has a copy being updated. Upon completion of the update cycle, the system automatically updates the version number of the document and makes it available to all authorised users.  

Document Management systems often incorporate Document Imaging.

Alliance Imager is a Document Management system.

Document Imaging

Even in today’s world, many organisations still function almost entirely in a “paper-driven” environment. This environment is a direct result of the need to maintain information on all aspects of the organisation.

As the organisation expands and the volume of work increases, the amount of documentation grows at an enormous rate. This growth forces organisations to either dispose of documents not considered essential or increase the storage areas used for the filing of these documents. The problems that may occur are significant and could have an adverse impact on the overall client service provided by the organisation.

To alleviate these problems, many organisations began using microfiche and microfilm technologies as well as establishing complex manual procedures to support organisational demands. When document management technologies are used to replace or augment manual paper management systems, organisations face another issue: how to successfully implement the desired technologies without adversely affecting the day-to-day operations. When addressing this issue, organisations need to determine which technologies are appropriate to address identified business and technical needs. It should be recognized that when implementing these technologies, organisations will need to review existing day-to-day operations to identify where the technologies would be of value to prevent redundant processing.

There are four basic components to document imaging systems:

  • input/scanning

  • indexing

  • storage

  • retrieval

The input components typically consist document scanners (or other input devices such as facsimile). The scanning stations are used to convert hard copy documents into a digital format for subsequent storage and management in the document imaging system.

The indexing stations allow users to identify (or index) incoming documents allowing them to be retrieved at a later date. Often this is a manual operation (that is the keying in of data), but more automated systems such as Optical Character Recognition (OCR) or Barcode Recognition can be used.

The storage portion of the system consists of various storage components which are connected to the document management, records management or workflow server. The storage sub-system is accessed by the appropriate server to retrieve and store information managed by the system.

The retrieval portion of the system consists of the user issuing a request for information that is then processed by the server. These requests are processed and the information is retrieved from the appropriate storage media connected to the server.

A fifth component may be archival, the ability to move documents into longer term storage.

PDF/A: An ISO Standard

ISO 19005-1 is an International Standards Organisation (ISO) Standard that was published on October 1, 2005: 

ISO 19005-1: Document Management - Electronic document file format for long term preservation - Part 1: Use of PDF 1.4 (PDF/A-1). 

This ISO standard defines a standard format (PDF/A-1) for the long-term archiving of electronic documents and is based on the PDF Reference Version 1.4 from Adobe Systems Inc. (PDF 1.4 is largely equivalent to the functionality implemented in Adobe Acrobat 5). 

Imaging for Windows is a simple document imaging system.  

Batch Scanning

Batch Scanning has been defined as "the sequential scanning of multiple original documents"

Batch Scanning is the scanning of large volumes of documents for subsequent indexing into a Document Management or Records Management system.

Alliance BatchScan is Document Scanning software.   

e-mail Archival

As e-mails become more and more accepted as business documents the need to manage and archive those documents in a similar manner to electronic or scanned documents becomes important. e-mail archival allows important e-mails to be selected and stored into a Document Management or Records Management system.


Workflow provides for the automation of business processes and enables users to control the process logic in all the various environments throughout their enterprise. This ability to control the various business processes, the document management system's control over content and integrity, enables mission-critical, document-centric business applications to operate in an environment otherwise cumbersome to implement and manage. This has resulted in most document management systems offering a workflow product.

Workflow computing is the automation of work processes performed daily throughout any business. A workflow application automates the sequence of actions, activities, or tasks used to run the process. This includes tracking the status of each occurrence of the process and providing tools to manage the process.  

Document Routing and Approval

Document Routing and Approval is a variation of Workflow used for sending documents to users for their approval. Documents may be sent serially to one user after another or in parallel to several users simultaneously.  

Print Capture & Archiving

Print Capture & Archiving which is also known as Enterprise Report Management (ERM) or Computer Output to Laser Disk (COLD), is an integrated software and hardware solution that stores and indexes formatted computer output (pages) on optical disk, magnetic disk, or magnetic tape as an alternative to paper printouts or computer output microfilm (COM).

This formatted output consists of point-in-time daily, weekly, and monthly reports, such as transaction listings of statements and invoices. Once this page output is stored on the system, it can be electronically retrieved, viewed, printed, faxed, and distributed to workstations and host computer terminals within departments or throughout an enterprise.

While there are many different data types in the computing environment, the type of data which ERM technology is concerned with is typically the result of transactions (data files and database records) being formatted by the application into page-oriented form for printing on paper or computer output microfiche (COM). The structure and format of this output is known. This data is time-period focused—it is a snapshot of an internal system at a given point in time. These reports are often the basis for analysis or comparative reporting and they include the printed record received by members such as a statement or invoice.  

Correspondence Management

Correspondence Management ensures that incoming correspondence is answered and that both incoming and outgoing correspondence are stored. Typically incoming documents are scanned and outgoing documents are created in Word Processing. Statistical information, such as average response times, is also provided.  

Content Management

"... a term used to refer to a broad collection of organisational practices and approaches related to generating, capturing, disseminating know-how and other content relevant to the organisation's business".

Content management systems support the creation, management, distribution, publishing, and discovery of corporate information. Also known as ‘web content management’, these systems typically focus on online content targeted at either a corporate website or intranet.

Content management is primarily designed to meet the growing needs of the website and intranet markets . Typically, template-based authoring allows business groups to easily create content on a large corporate website

There are two approaches to Content Management, both of which are valid:  

 1. The Library Approach - highly structured. Index everything by adding labels, indices, properties, meta data, keywords, and descriptions to every email, every document, every piece of paper, every pdf file, every paragraph.

 2. The Open Sharing approach - highly unstructured. Recognise that structured data limits information flow, rather than broadening it. As soon as information changes faster than it can be structured, the information flow will be cut off in order to maintain the structure. Information can be gathered, altered, changed, updated and distributed far faster than it can be structured, so why structure it?

An enterprise content management system consists of a core web content management system, with additional capabilities to manage a broader range of organisational information. This often consists of document management, records management, digital asset management or collaboration features. 

Content Management is typically Web Browser based.  

Digital Asset Management

Digital Asset Management (DAM) systems support the storage, retrieval and re-use of digital objects within an organisation. DAM differs from document management and content management in its focus on multimedia resources, such as images, video and audio. DAM also typically provides rights management capabilities.


Product Positioning

records-management document-management document-imaging document-scanning  

Legal Admissibility of information stored on Electronic Document Management Systems

The issue of Legal Admissibility is at the core of records management principles. An organisation needs to be able to prove (to a court of law or some other statutory body) that the contents of a particular document or data file created or existing within an Electronic Document Management System have not changed since the time of storage.

See   Code of Practice on Legal Admissibility of information stored on Electronic Document Management Systems

Do you need to store e-mails ? See here for details of e-mail archiving.

What are Records Management Retention Schedules ?


Specialists in archive & records management software, document management systems, document scanning solutions, barcode scanning, file-tracking, "life cycle of records",  retention schedule,  Kodak/Microsoft Imaging for Windows, scanning documents, document-management and records-management.

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