What is the difference between Records and Document Management?

What is the difference between Records and Document Management?
In 10 September 2014 - Written By

Document Management and Records Management may seem two sides of the same coin but there are unique differences that many people fail to notice and consider them both the same in all aspects.

Document Management refers to the management of some paper document, electronic forms, emails, bills, electronic communications and other similar items where you can perform the basic functions of the DMS that include capture, indexing, retrieval and retirement.

Records Management involves the managing of the above mentioned documents that are in their final state and no longer need to be modified. If it meets the basic criterion of a record i.e. classification, storage, security, destruction and achieving then a document is called a record.

Document Management System

  • Accurate organization of documents
  • Faster and elaborate search options
  • Making organizations paperless by digitizing documents
  • Streamlined information and workflow
  • Capture, Indexing, Retrieval & Retirement

Records Management System

  • Identification of Records in inventory
  • Proper Audit Trail and Verification of Chain of Custody
  • Identification of Ownership of Records
  • Disposing of Documents
  • Classification, Storage, Achieving & Destruction

The primary difference is based on the methodology & end goal of documents and records management. For DMS the goal is to provide users quick access with any type of document anytime anywhere whilst reducing paper usage. Whereas in RMS the goal is similar but remember that records are final documents and can’t be altered and as such the end goal becomes achieving them for viewing purposes in future.

document and record system
On the other hand the methodology is also different because in the case of DMS the perspective is content-driven whereas for RMS it is context-based. So why is DMS content driven?

The answer is simple, it is its catalyst because all activity in any document management system is based on written documents and search filters are tuned to use keywords to retrieve a document. In contrast the RMS is context based because they are achieved on the basis of type (insurance records, utility bills, application types etc.).

So there you have it, the main differentiating factors between Records Management and Document Management. If you want to learn more about Document Management Systems then check this out: DOCUMENT LIFECYCLE


Although records management and document management are often used interchangeably they are two different terms representing two different concepts. Document management revolves around managing paper and electronic documents based on the use of its main function that are scanning, indexing, retrieving and retiring. A records management system is different in the sense that it manages the documents that are in their final stage and don’t need modification. They are classified, then stored and secured and later archived or destroyed. The major difference can however be attributed to the content and context driven terminology.