Pencil-Whipping is really just a clever modern-day word for Cheating. It applies to situations where the person doing the whipping is quickly going through the motions just to complete the list and pass it along. There's no meaning beyond the actions, other than getting that activity checked off the list.
If you're in a management role, you have an obligation to “inspect what you expect”. It is important to measure what matters. The purpose isn't to catch employees doing something wrong, but rather to determine if the work is being performed correctly to achieve desired outcomes; the documentation enables managers to assess whatever training or other corrective actions are needed. Often those inspection activities are requested by other managers in the organization to assess overall compliance and / or progress. That's where Pencil-Whipping can creep in to the picture.
Activity without intent or meaning is just wasted motion. Whatever you call it, that cheats the employee or work group being observed (or not), the person doing the Pencil-Whipping and anyone else who receives the useless or incomplete information. If you're going to pick up the pencil in the first place, make your marks count. After all, the point isn't to complete the form, it’s to improve a process and convey a meaningful message.
Successful managers become leaders by learning how to spot and avoid Pencil-Whipping activities in the first place. When team members understand “why”, their actions have meaning and what they write down on paper (or mark on a digital form) will too. So, no Pencil-Whipping, please!