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Records Management: Traditional vs. Digital

The concept of organizing and keeping track of business documents and records has always carried a fairly negative stigma with it. 

A request to locate important information inside those documents could feel cumbersome - you’d imagine endless piles of paper, stowed away in a back room, inside towers of unlabeled boxes. Finding said information was equivalent to the age-old “needle in a haystack” idea.

And so the idea of record management became a task that almost no one wanted, leaving literal tons of value and revenue untouched inside all those boxes.

Yet the introduction of digital content to the masses has not been wholeheartedly met with approval by all businesses. Certain attributes of digital record management are considered by some as unappealing for one reason or another, but it’s important for businesses to examine all the incredible benefits of such document organization before rejecting the idea.

Steps Behind Record Management

Wikipedia defines records management by breaking it down into seven steps: identifying, classifying, storing, securing, retrieving, tracking, destroying. These more or less identify the lifecycle of a business document, and detail the necessary steps to take while managing the document.

It’s important to examine the definition of each step, however:

  1. Identifying: A document needs to examined and assessed, to determine where it should be placed amongst other documents. Its content will also establish whether it needs to be authenticated, certified, or reviewed by a forensic expert.
  2. Classifying: The document must then be categorized to aid in future retrieval, for whatever reason.
  3. Storing: To properly store the document it must be positioned in a way that protects it from outside forces such as environmental factors and persons outside your business.
  4. Securing: Similar to storing, securing a document equates to maintaining its safety. Storing refers to the physical nature of the document, while securing has more to do with the access privileges related to it.
  5. Retrieving: This step entails the process involved with accessing the document; who in the office is allowed to view it, and what needs to be done in the case of an audit, or damage.
  6. Tracking: Any movement of the document away from its typical storage space should be documented to ensure its safety, and return.
  7. Destroying: The term ‘destroy’ can be a bit harsh for the end of a document’s life for a business, and it might feel more appropriate to refer to its ‘disposal’, instead. This is the step that permanently removes the document from the business.

Managed appropriately, these seven steps can safeguard a document for as long as a business is in need of it. Outside forces will inevitably play a role in the lifecycle of the document, however, bringing to light the question of protecting it traditionally or digitally to the forefront.

A Side-by-Side Comparison

Critics of digital transformation suggest there’s little to be gained by it, and in his opening keynote at the Gartner Symposium/ITxpo 2017, Gartner Senior VP Val Sribar spoke of how it was “nearing a period of intense scrutiny.”

He continued: “Four years into the digital shift, we find ourselves at the ‘peak of inflated expectations’, and if the Gartner Hype Cycle teaches us anything, a trough is coming. Disillusionment always follows a period of extreme hype.”

Thankfully digitization has continued to flourish since then, but skepticism still remains.

Opponents should consider the following when choosing to manage documents in either the old-school way or the modernized digital method, shown here with Ripcord’s digitization process:

Record Management Step

Traditional Ripcord’s Digitization


A timely and error prone process of manually sorting through documents and records to determine how they should be organized. A quick and intelligent search and capture.


Opinions in an office vary on how documents should be organized, and this can leave an abundance of dark data unprofiled, and insufficiently tagged to leverage. Efficient data categorization that also allows for easy access.


Decades of records and documents can require a large area for safe storage. This space must also be equipped to secure it from potential environmental damage. Cloud storage via Canopy.


Documents must be secured from such potential damage as fire, water, age, exposure to anything that could corrode the paper, and theft. Permanent preservation difficult, if not impossible. Access managed by administration, making it much harder for anything to be stolen or damaged.


Extensive amount of time to locate information inside documents, especially if not properly organized; time-consuming, regardless. Intelligent search, and electronic management services offer a huge reduction in time spent locating.


Additional methods must be used to keep track of document while it's circulating away from its place in storage. Access managed and tracked electronically by administration.


Paper documents must be properly disposed of, and can be timely and costly. Shredding and recycling handled through Ripcord’s digitization process.


Smart Content Management

If your company is still on the fence for going fully digital with their documents and records, be sure to explore the smart content management that comes with digitization. Above all else it will provide a much easier way to maintain company information, and secure it for longer periods of time.


Start making the most of your data today.