Document Management vs. File Management - What's the Difference?

Posted by Mike Lynett on Sep 30, 2015 9:35:00 AM

document management vs. file management

Your company's paperwork is important. It is the basis of many business functions that your company needs to be able to operate on a daily basis. To that end, you need a management system that will keep everything on track. For this, you have two options: document management and file management. Although they may sound like two different ways to say the exact same thing, they are actually very different. Let's explore what make each one stand apart from the other so that you can determine which management system is best for your company's needs:

File management

What is a file?

In order to understand what file management is all about, you must first know exactly what a file is. In short, a file is a folder or box used for holding paperwork for easier preservation.

File management is only about storage

Although a file can be organized, this is only an afterthought. Instead, your focus is on getting the documents into the file so that they can be stored. In other words, you don't care about what's actually inside of a document during the process of file management, only that it is organized enough to be out of the way. An example of this would be a computer file. When a document is a computer file, it is in a neat package for easy storage, but that is where the file management process ends.

Document management

Document management is about effectively controlling documents – including those stored in files – from their conception to their destruction. To this end, document management includes multiple components, including the following:

Document indexing

The file management process organizes your documents; the document management process makes them easily accessible. For example, a digital document management system will take a computer file, place it into a category and make it easily searchable based on criteria such as the title, contents and category.

Document revision tracking

In many cases, you will find a need to edit a document. A document management system will keep track of each revision that you make to your documents, so that you can see how it evolved and why. For instance, if you are trying to determine why your total inventory is at a certain volume, you can track the history of changes to see what happened throughout the course of purchases, sales and shrinkage.

Workflow management

You organize every part of your daily routine at your business and your documents should not be excluded from this. A document management process provides you with the ability to manage the workflows of your documents. In fact, some document management solutions automate many document-based functions in order to further streamline your efficiency.

Document security

A document management system also includes enhancements to document security. In the case of digital document management, a file – even on a password protected computer – is not good enough. The document management system will encrypt your documents both while they are being stored and while they are being transmitted via the web. You will also be able to grant and revoke access to a document at will. This significantly reduces the chances of someone stealing your data, even if they manage to hack into your system.

Expanded document accessibility

In addition to protecting your data, a good document management system will also expand its accessibility for authorized personnel. This is done through secure access solutions, including internal database searches and cloud-based file sharing.

Which document management approach is best for you?

For most businesses, document management is the best approach. The added security, organization and functionality cannot be overlooked.


The Ultimate Beginner's Guide to Document Management

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