paper vs electronic record keepingWith tons of data generated and documented every second, information is an important asset for businesses. Companies today need to deal with various documents such as forms, reports, letters, memos, policy statements, contracts, agreements, and so on. Managing and securely storing these valuable pieces of information is critical and is usually handled through document storage systems. Document storage is a part of document management, including routine operations such as documentation, record management, and retrieval.

The traditional process of documenting things was physical record-keeping. Businesses accumulated physical files and tangible records such as paper, photographs, data charts, and other three-dimensional objects for later use. Some organizations still prefer to keep physical records primarily because of the difficulties of adding document-level information to a database and a typical lack of resources for this cause. Typically accessing physical records is a bulk job carried out by following guidelines related to box labels, inventory lists, etc.

Electronic records, on the other hand, store information through digital means. By harnessing information technology for documentation, records get hosted on a computer, storage drive, or online server and are only electronically accessible. Electronic document management gives a single point of access to all the critical business information in a formidably organized manner. Several trends and changes, such as the rapid shift in labor mobility trends and the adoption of remote working systems, imply that computer-based information management and record-keeping are overriding physical record keeping. 

Let’s compare paper vs. electronic record keeping to understand the difference between the two better.

Paper vs. Electronic Record Keeping 

Storing Records

Often, paper records stored in piles and boxes take up a significant amount of space. Keeping these records can be burdensome and expensive as they need tangible storage solutions and infrastructure. This heavy amount of paper sits in the file cabinet and only occupies space.

In comparison, electronic record-keeping stores information digitally and saves a significant amount of physical space. While there are several types of digital records, some of the popular formats include emails, PDFs, text documents, spreadsheets, presentations, images, audio files, and videos. In addition, 3D CAD models, drawings, data sets, and databases are also examples of electronic records.

One of the prominent advantages of electronic records is that the storage of this information requires minimal infrastructure and requires minimal maintenance or upkeep. Further, digital integration makes it convenient to revise, retrieve or update data through any computing device.

Retrieving Records

digital document record keeping scannerPaper records are generally labeled or stored in numbered boxes and sectioned shelves, requiring navigation and re-allocation every time a record is accessed. This process makes retrieving records an unnecessarily laborious job and consumes a significant amount of time. In addition, accessing records stored at a different location is not possible and can be easily misplaced.

On the other hand, electronic records are easy to access and transform into a variety of formats. Electronic record-keeping is far more comprehensive and systematic, with no need for an extensive look around. Whether the government standards change or there is a need for re-arrangement, updates and edits are far more time-efficient when information is centrally located. In addition, it is also possible to produce digital copies and store them as a backup to avoid potential mishaps.


Physical files that carry sensitive information require lockers or storage rooms which only adds to shelving and security costs. Secure physical storage would also need advanced, reliable security measures such as cameras or security personnel. Misplacement or theft is also possible while transporting physical documents. With large amounts of physical information on hand, safekeeping becomes challenging and often handled with continual and tiresome surveillance.

In contrast, electronic data sharing and access involve rigorous data protection precautions and governance frameworks. Digital record security does not need any tangible measures to prevent data from unwarranted access. Safeguarding digitized information with constant automated surveillance is the most viable way to keep important files protected round the clock.

Protection from Disasters

Paper documents and tangible files are always vulnerable to natural factors and man-made disasters. Therefore, businesses must take suitable measures to protect their physical files against disasters such as fires or floods. Once lost or destroyed, it is impossible to retrieve a physical document, which is an invariable risk factor for storing physical documents.

On the contrary, electronic records saved on a server do not get erased by destroying or corrupting a single piece of hardware. This data is disaster-proof and does not need a specific kind of environment for preservation. In most cases, you can also retrieve electronic data if it gets deleted.


Paper documents keep on piling up, and after a certain limit, management becomes tough and unsustainable. Paper records will be burdensome in the longer run, demanding more space and resources as businesses scale. With business processes becoming automated and departments becoming more synchronized, digital business records have become requisite. 

Size does not matter when it comes to electronic record keeping as it offers the same easy access, clear navigation, and security even on a larger, much more demanding scale. In addition, electronic record-keeping provides the adaptability and resilience to grow information databases and explore new possibilities.

Electronic File Keeping in Various Industries


electronic digital record keepingHealthcare and treatment centers deal with records that have consequences for their patients. Medical records can contain various materials such as handwritten notes, computerized records, lab reports, and other recordings and printouts for monitoring equipment.

All this data directly relates to a patient’s well-being, making record-keeping an essential element of healthcare professional standards. Accurate and complete medical records combined with factual, consistent, and objective entries can change the outcome for a patient.

Police Departments

Besides handling everyday cases, gathering information for investigating, solving crimes, and tracking down leads, the police also need to do the task of reviewing, sorting, and organizing paper documents and case-sensitive information. Police departments need to establish better information management procedures to carry out investigations and avoid any inconsistencies.

Police need to be able to access the necessary information in a controlled and secure way that is easy to sort through. With information digitalization, you can see the entire data archive management process without causing disruptions to the unit or task force working to fight crime.

Law Firms

Affidavits, case files, client notes, documents filed in court proceedings, reference materials, will forms, attorneys, and other legal records accumulate several paper records. All this information should remain at hand for future or imminent legal proceedings.

By adopting digital record-keeping, law firms do not have to lease additional storage space or move sensitive documents off-site to operate more efficiently. Efficient record management allows quick revisions and faster response time and eliminates the chances for delaying justice due to lost, damaged, or ill-organized records scanning document storage

Other Establishments

Be it education or transport, electronic documentation and record-keeping can reduce cost and increase efficiency in handling the documents daily. Records can also paint a clear picture of the overall financial health of an organization and help evaluate growth factors and weak points.

Digitizing information for greater governance and quick access can benefit industries included but not limited to;

  • Retail businesses can incorporate digitized billing and record processes to make everyday tasks easier and keep a thorough track record of their customers.
  • Defense and arms industries require heavy inventory management and legal record keeping. Automation can expedite this process and make it more secure.
  • Manufacturing industries can simplify and improve their logistics and stockpiling operations through systematic registration and focus on production.
  • Agriculture and raw material production can go digital to fulfill their heavy industrial requirements, which involve managing various appliances and consignment needs.
  • Banking and finance corporations can abide by legal obligations by digitizing confidential customer information and elevate safety through improved cyber safe record-keeping.

Digital Safe Keeping with Southwest Solutions Group

Growing organizations already have a lot to look forward to, rather than concerning themselves with something that can be simply delegated. Southwest Solutions provide expert, end-to-end document management services that you can rely on. The record management solutions at Southwest help you save up on batch backfile scanning costs and allow you to pull out records anytime. Southwest brings the best out of your information technology system’s capabilities. With improved systems and professional competence, any margin for error will turn into increased proficiency.

Whether you’re concerned with accounting and medical records, legal and litigation, or manufacturing files, our team of experts can help you design a conversion plan that can give you a return on investment, all while protecting the integrity of your information. Southwest undertakes dedicated data handling with the utmost care where several precautionary measures ensure a secure digital database filing system of the highest quality.

Southwest Solutions will tailor and incorporate ingenious methods into their service according to your specific workflow needs. Our document scanning and digitization services will also box, index, and upload a box of your records for free, so you can try the service before putting it into action.

To know more or speak with our storage specialist, give us a call at 1-866-447-3848 or send us a message today.


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