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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, nestled inside towers of unlabeled banker 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 tons of value and revenue untouched inside all those boxes.

While the introduction of digital content to the masses has been a significant step forward, not all businesses have embraced it wholeheartedly. Some find certain aspects of digital records management unappealing for various reasons. However, it's crucial for businesses to thoroughly examine the incredible benefits of such document organization before dismissing the idea altogether.

Understanding Records Management

Think of records management as the careful caretaking of an organization's memory. It involves organizing, storing, and retrieving records in a way that keeps them safe, reliable, and easy to find when needed. Records management is often assessed across several disciplines and capabilities: identifying, classifying, storing, securing, retrieving, tracking, and destroying. These different areas more or less identify the lifecycle of a business document and detail the necessary steps to take while managing the document. By managing records well, organizations can meet their legal and regulatory obligations, make better decisions, and operate more smoothly. It's all about keeping important information in order and ready to help the organization succeed.

The different areas of records management:

  1. Identifying: A document needs to be 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 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.

When managed appropriately, these different areas can safeguard a document as long as a business needs 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. In his opening keynote at the Gartner Symposium/ITxpo, Gartner Senior VP, Val Sribar, spoke of how it was “nearing a period of intense scrutiny.”

“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.”

While digitization has continued to flourish since then, some skepticism remains. Opponents should consider the following capabilities when deciding whether to manage documents the traditional way or take a more modern approach to records management with digitization.


The Traditional Way

With 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. Records can be leveraged for data analytics,  generating valuable insights. Machine learning capabilities can analyze large volumes of digital records to identify patterns, trends, and opportunities.


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 allows for easy access.


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

Secure cloud storage with Ripcord's Canopy content platform.


Documents must be secured from risks including fire, water, age, corrosive substances, and theft. Permanent preservation is difficult, if not impossible.

Access to records is restricted through user authentication and encryption and is managed by the administration, making it much harder for anyone to steal or damage important documents.


Locating information inside documents, especially if they're not properly organized, is time-consuming.

Features like intelligent search and electronic management services offer users a significant reduction in time spent locating.


Additional methods must be used to keep track of the document while it's circulating away from its place in storage.

Access is managed and tracked electronically by designated administration.


Paper documents must be properly disposed of, and can be timely and costly.

Shredding and recycling are handled through Ripcord’s digitization process.


Smarter Records Management

Modernizing records management through digitalization brings numerous benefits, including improved efficiency, cost savings, enhanced security, regulatory compliance, collaboration, data analytics, and environmental sustainability. It empowers organizations to adapt to the digital age and leverage technology to optimize their operations.

If your company is still on the fence about going fully digital with how it manages its documents and records, be sure to explore the smart content management that comes with digitization. Above all else, it provides an easier way to maintain and secure company information.

Start making the most of your data today.