The Life of a Document

A document has an existence which parallels living beings including humans. Documents can be short-lived, such as memos; living short hopefully productive lives.  However many documents and data are long-lived, paralleling human life spans.

Human lives tend to be divided into several categories: Early life (gestation through schooling), productive working life, retirement, and finally death.

Documents including letters, spreadsheets, essays, data processing reports, and compound forms have parallel stages.  A document is:  1) thought-up, composed, edited and re-edited, and finalized during its early life.  Then it enters:  2) the productive stage where it is read, perused, reviewed, perhaps filed and/or reused, or even included as whole or part of a reference book. And eventually most are:  3) retired because they are no longer relevant.

The processes involved are different according to the document type and purpose, but almost all go through the aforementioned stages.  In a memo to remind some one of an appointment going from first written to the trash in a few minutes, the stages are certainly minimized.   While an opinion from a lawyer or a statement from the President may be indexed and kept forever having clearly gone through all the stages.

Stage 1 may be simply handwritten, “word processed,” “data-processed” or subjected to committee editing. Stage 2 leads to one or more viewings and then filing or directly but almost certainly eventually to stage 3) trash or disposal.  Stage 1 is usually in-house.  The first parts of Stage 2 are usually in-house; then the filing part is often in house at least at the beginning.  The filing and Stage 3 relevancy issue can be more complicated…Maybe documents are only kept for legal purposes or because they may be needed someday. This may be taking up valuable filing areas. This can be solved by moving records off-site. And one day those without a presidential archive will need to dispose of them.

Access Records Management (ARM) provides a “retirement home” for your low-use paper documents. ARM offers competitively priced, easy access document storage in our Kansas City based Records Center.  And for end stage documents, ARM offers destruction / shredding for your in-house or off-site documents.

Please contact us today at 816.331.7200 for more information and pricing.