Is your current documentation process struggling to keep up the pace? Are you consistently having to helicopter-parent your team? No one is to blame, but it may be time to dust off the current procedures manual or create one.
Many organizations are burdened by an inefficient document control system (or lack thereof) and find themselves in a constant state of workflow limbo. If you and your team can relate, then it may be time to consider reflecting on how to improve your system.
If your existing system is very manual in nature (paper docs, excel, google docs, etc.) it could be time to contemplate a switch from paper-based to electronic-based. An eQMS (Electronic Quality Management Software) just may be the solution or mental savior, depending on the case.
This post outlines three steps that will assist creating a solid foundation for your new procedures' manual. We will explain why each step is critically important for ensuring yours and your team’s success with these new protocols in place.
Building a Document Control Procedures Manual is Easy
Before we jump into the all-important steps, let us think about the foundational principles of a document control procedures manual.
This manual will be your organization’s sole resource for document control and management protocols. It is where the entire gamut of your document control processes is lodged and managed.
The instructions set forth in the document control procedures manual will help you and your team work more efficiently and with confidence. No longer will you have to hunt needlessly for critical documents. You might even find yourself no longer working while eating your lunch.
With all that has been said, let us begin the road to recovering you and your team’s sanity.
Step 1: Create a Document Management Plan
We need to lay the groundwork for your new (or first) document plan, gathering all the pertinent information will be the hallmark for crafting your doc. control procedures’ manual.
Some key question to think about before you begin collecting your assets:
- - What is the current process for reviewing, sharing, or approving documents?
- - Is there a current style guide in place?
- - Does your company have any templates for invoices, letters, that you need can leverage for consistency?
These are just a few questions you can ask yourself before you begin your analysis of what will ultimately be the cornerstone of your document control procedures’ manual.
Then, identify which documents your company uses on a regular basis. Carefully comb through each of your department’s documents. Some of the most common documents are product specs, SOPs, work instructions, etc.
Step 2: Begin Establishing Document Procedures & Requirements
Once you have your plan and inventory, it is now time to begin building document procedures and requirements.
Ask yourself this:
- - How will the drafts be reviewed, handled, and approved?
- - Will the documents be stored centralized or decentralized?
- - Which tools will be utilized to create and manage your documents?
This may be a good time to consider an eQMS solution. With quality management software performing the heavy lifting, you will find what was once cumbersome is now a much more manageable process. Your files will benefit from being secure and only accessible to those that need access.
Consider things you want to be able to do automatically that require a lot of manual labor without an eQMS:
- - Review a dashboard of all documents under revision
- - Check a dashboard of all documents coming up for revision in the next days
- - See who has document activities in progress or overdue
- - Easily change the document administrator for each document
Step 3: Cleanup by Removing any Unnecessary Documents
It is time to become as clutter free as possible. Remove any dated or unneeded files. In doing so, you will eliminate any risky data that could potentially be the cause of future compliance infractions.
Be vigilant in your deletion though, and make sure you are adhering to your archival requirements to avoid and fines or penalties.
I hope you find this guide beneficial and if you are interested in learning more about Intellect’s eQMS and document control software you can contact our experts.