“If it isn’t documented, it didn’t happen!” these words are engraved in the minds of all quality managers. They believe that quality control is at the core of quality management. No process is started, completed, revised, repeated, or replaced without being thoroughly documented.
And if the process is documented but the documents are not found, then it didn’t happen. This can lead to noncompliance and a high cost in money and time, and products will be delayed from getting to the market.
what is a Document Control System?
By definition, it is a set of procedures intended to oversee the creation, review, approval, release, distribution, access, storage, security, correction, or disposal of documents.
No compliance, accuracy, integrity, efficiency, accountability, and process excellence are built without document control systems. It consists of managing the flow of documents and delivering accurate information to the appropriate people in order to drive the company’s quality mechanism.
why is Document Control Important?
Information can be valuable only when it helps companies gain knowledge and guide operations effectively. To make sure that only the required resources are handled you must-have procedure control and controlled documents.
It is also important to have control of records as proof of compliance with specifications and to show the effectiveness of the quality management system’s operations.
The document control process must ensure that the document management policy is applied throughout all the document lifecycles.
Not having a document Control System is risky for many reasons:
- The task of creating a document should be assigned to specific people, and criteria should be set, or else you will risk having unnecessary documents and non-conforming ones.
- Documents also need to be reviewed and approved, and this policy is necessary because quality assurance standards require that documents should be reviewed for accuracy.
- Since documents are often exchanged internally and externally, with various parties and partners, they risk being damaged or lost. Therefore, a part of the document controller's responsibilities is to keep track of who sent the document, to whom, when, and why.
- Every document is exposed to changes during its lifecycle, it is important to control this process by deciding who has the authority to make changes and who should approve the changes. Using a control system, you will get a report on document changes, what has changed, and who did it in a matter of seconds.
- Not everyone should have access to any document at any time, this will put some information at risk of being exposed or even lost. Therefore, control policy specifies how and when the document is published and who has access to it, especially external documents.
- It is very important to be able to find documents easily and quickly, that is another benefit of Document Control Systems. All documents are based on appropriate classifications and metadata, otherwise, you will be wasting time.
- Without a clear audit log of documents, you will fall into non-conformity. Document Control Systems keep track of each transaction that occurs on the document. All relevant information, such as who viewed the document, who downloaded it, the creation date, the revision date, which documents were part of transmittals, can be retrieved at any time.
- To prevent any unintended use of obsolete documents, you should have a record control procedure and a record retention policy to identify the process.
Here are a few steps that every document controller should follow for efficient and quality document control:
1- Leverage Metadata:
Metadata is considered to be the most important term in information management. And as a document controller, it is recommended that you leverage the use of metadata to improve the classification and retrieval of documents.
2- Make Use of Automated Workflow:
The approval and review process is part of any document’s lifecycle, and as a document controller, you should identify which documents need to be approved or reviewed before being published, a process that can be automated to help drive the business faster.
Using a good system will allow you to configure workflows for various document types and personalize the document cycle, it will also automate the approval process.
Always keep in mind a flexible workflow is a keystone of process efficiency.
3- Integration with MS Office and Office365
While email is still the easiest and most used medium to share files and communicate between team members, it is very important to be able to import data directly from outlook, word, or excel to the system. This will also preserve metadata which will speed up the process of importing documents into the system.
4- Properly Manage Document Access
As a document controller, you should guarantee that only the people who need to view the documents have access to them. Therefore, when you identify document types, make sure to determine who has access to the documents and what they can do with them depending on their roles.
Now that you have learned about the risks of not having a document control system, learn about the difference between a document management system and a document control system.
Written by Peter Hargittay
Peter Hargittay is the Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) and VP of Corporate Development at Intellect. Peter is responsible for rebranding the company as Intellect from Interneer and for positioning the company for significant growth. Peter joined Intellect in 2013, and is responsible for corporate, product, and online marketing, business development through the Intellect partner channel, demand generation, sales enablement, and go-to-market strategies. Peter has more than 15 years of experience in building successful software and services businesses. Prior to Intellect, Peter served as the VP of Marketing and Sales Operations at Arise Virtual Solutions, and previously held executive marketing roles at Aegis, PeopleSupport, Intersil, and FileNet. Peter received both his BA in Economics and MBA from California State University, Fullerton.