Understanding Document Management vs. File Management

Submitted by Tech Support on Mon, 08/15/2022 - 12:33
setup on laptop computer, file management concept

If you're on the lookout for great business solutions, you've probably seen both "document management" and "file management" floating around. Are these terms interchangeable? If not, which one is best for your business? Here's everything you need to know about document management vs. file management (and why it matters)!

File and Document Management Basics

To really understand document management, file management, and what role each solution can play in your company, you need to brush up on some basics first:

What is a document?

A document is just about anything your business creates. They can come in a variety of media types and file formats, from Excel sheets to JPEG files, and they can contain all kinds of different information. It doesn't even matter what the original source is, how the information was created, or what it's used for--a document is a document.

Here are a few things that count as documents:

  • Invoices.
  • Photographs.
  • Client notes.
  • Product descriptions.
  • Project briefs.

What is document management?

Now that you know exactly what counts as a document, it's easy to see how this content can overrun your workflows without proper care. Luckily, that's where document management comes in.

With document management, you can take control of your content at every stage of the lifecycle, including:

  • Creation.
  • Review and approval.
  • Sharing and updating.
  • Short-term storage.
  • Long-term storage.
  • Disposal or destruction.

Document management allows you to create and handle content in simpler, more effective ways, leveraging digital tools and best practices to build an organizational framework. You'll be able to digitize physical documents, search for content at the click of a button, share documents anytime and anywhere, establish a shared online workspace, and more.

What is a file?

A file, also sometimes called a "record," is a more specific kind of content. It's related to legal obligations or business transactions. That means you can think of files or records as specialized content types in need of extra organization and protection.

Here are a few examples of records:

  • Contracts.
  • Agreements.
  • Budget documents.
  • Reports.
  • Balance sheets.

What is file management?

As you've probably guessed, there's a solution for records, too--and it's called "file management" (or "records management"). The difference between this and document management is the specificity: File management is focused on records alone, while document management is your go-to solution for all business content. In some ways, the two can overlap; however, file management tends to focus more on regulations and compliance, while document management is ideal for organization, efficiency, and digitization.

Why You Need Document Management

It's likely easy to guess that file or records management is a must for any business looking to avoid complicated audits and noncompliance fines. However, some companies aren't convinced they need document management as well.

Let's take a look at why document management can and should go hand-in-hand with file management:

Document management helps you deal with content.

Modern businesses create a lot of content--and without document management, you have no way of organizing all that content in ways that make sense. Document management provides tools, organizational frameworks, and efficient solutions to keep your documents in check, putting you in charge of your company's content (no matter how much there is).

Document management improves everyday security.

Although file management might be focused on protecting the most sensitive information in your business, document management approaches all content with an eye toward security. That means solutions like access control and user authentication can become part of your everyday routine, defending your content against external actors as well as internal human error.

Document management boosts efficiency.

Remember, records management is more about compliance and legal regulations, which means it might feel like jumping through hoops if you use it alone. Document management helps balance this out by providing the efficiency solutions you need to build compliance into your workflows without extra steps. On top of that, document management also gives you the visibility you need to streamline and strengthen processes from content creation to document sharing and beyond.

In conclusion, file and document management are two sides of the same coin--and this is one coin you don't want to go without.

Ready to see what document management can do for you or how it can complement file management? Contact us today to get started!

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