The power and the problems of paper


Unstructured records frequently support the transactions and processes being captured as structured records in Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) systems. These days, almost all unstructured records are born-digital, in office software as documents, spreadsheets and presentations, or in software tools for drawing, recording, creating diagrams or project tracking.

Few records are created manually with pen and paper or a film camera. Nevertheless, many digital records are subsequently printed, often photocopied and then filed in binders or folders and kept in file rooms, cabinets or boxes at off-site records storage locations.

A great advantage of paper records is that they are easy to arrange as a group, to describe and to store. They don’t require much special equipment besides a table and a light to read and use them. It seems unlikely that paper records will disappear anytime in the near future.

However, paper records may not always be filed well. They may be kept as piles of loose papers or tied up with string or clipped together in a variety of ways with a descriptive label attached.

When paper records are scanned they are transformed into digital records. In most circumstances, a paper record will have a digital copy. This makes it difficult to know which is the official record: the first born-digital record, the printed record or the scanned version.

Records management systems use policy, process, taxonomy, tagging and training to define and communicate to people in the organization how to determine which is the official record in a particular circumstance or situation.

For further insight on the effective management of records, speak to one of our records management expert.