What is Document Control Numbering?

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Written By Haisam Abdel Malak

About: Haissam is a digital software product manager with 15 years of expertise in developing enterprise content management solutions. His core capabilities encompass digital transformation, document management, records management, business process automation, and collaboration.

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Every document needs to be numbered for identification purposes. It’s difficult to keep track of numbers when multiple people or departments are generating documents. That’s why organizations need to implement a reliable document control numbering system as part of their DM strategy.

Document control numbering is a system that is used to identify and organize documents. It was developed in order to provide an effective way of managing, tracking, and retrieving any document or record in an organization.

Document control numbering system assigns a sequential number to each document and provides the date, title, author, and department. It is often used in conjunction with other systems like the Document Status Code (DSC) or the Document Status Indicator (DSI).

Keeping track of revisions, versions, and changes in projects is a time-consuming process that eats away at productivity. Organizations need to make sure that they are following the most important document control best practices to improve their implementation.

source: integrify.com

What is document control number?

Document control number (DCN) is a unique identifier for a document. It is an organization-wide system to identify documents. It is used to keep track of their documents and also by different departments which are responsible for various types of documents. This numbering system can be applied to all types of documents like contracts, invoices, orders, and more.

If you ever asked yourself how to find the needed document without much of a Hussle, then the most basic way is to implement DCN.

It can be any combination of numbers and letters that identifies the document. It is commonly used in digitized documents to uniquely identify the document and its author with a unique identification number.

There are many different types of document control numbering, and they all have their own purpose.

It is considered an essential part of any document control implementation within organizations that deal with a lot of documents.

Types of Document Control Numbering

There are two types: sequential numbering and progressive numbering.

1- Sequential numbering

It is a system of assigning consecutive numbers to documents. All documents in a particular order are assigned consecutive numbers, and all numbers in a sequence are sequential within that sequence. This system is most commonly used in paper-based systems because it’s easy to automate numbering by hand.

2- Progressive numbering

Progressive numbering, on the other hand, assigns sequential numbers to documents using a sequence of letters or numbers. All documents in a particular order are assigned sequential numbers, and the sequence starts at letter A for the first document.

This type is mostly used in organization with huge number of documents to manage especially in construction.

Most of modern document control software or ECM systems allow to assign a flexible numbering based on organization’s preference and document types.

What is document numbering procedure?

A document numbering procedure prescribes the numbering procedure of documents. It details the naming conventions of documents based on types, department, and other needed information.

Naming conventions are used to identify and distinguish the documents from each other. The naming convention may vary depending on the organization and on the complexity of their document management plan, but it usually includes a prefix, number or letter, and suffix.

The prefix is usually assigned for identification purposes. The number or letter identifies the sequential order of documents within that particular document series or category. And finally, suffixes are added to differentiate between different types of documents such as drafts and final copies etc.



This document numbering procedure should be shared by all departments managers to be followed and applied by their employees.

Benefits of document control numbering

Document control numbering is an essential part of any organization, it helps identify and trace documents throughout the entire organization. This process helps organizations in maintaining the integrity of their documents, identifying document versions and providing a clear audit trail.

I strongly recommend reading this in-depth article discussing the difference between document control and document management.

Here are the top benefits of implementing DCN:

1. It is a way to keep track of documents in a systematic manner

2. It is an efficient way to find the document you are looking for

3. It helps in the retrieval of documents that have been misplaced

4. It speeds up document retrieval time

5. It prevents duplicate creation of documents by providing a numbering system for them

6. It reduces errors and increases productivity

How do I create a document control number?

To create a document control number that suites your organization, you need to follow the following steps

1- Think outside the Box

The first step to create a solid document control numbering within your organization is to get a holistic overview of what the types of information and documents you consume on a daily basis.

In addition, you have to try to foresee any new information types that will flow within your organization walls.

2- Meet all key stakeholders

You can learn more about the challenges employees are having managing the lifecycle of documents, including the time it takes to find documents, by identifying the challenges in your document management implementation.

In order to learn how each department manages the flow of documents and the most crucial categories they are dealing with, be sure to speak with all of the key individuals in each department.

In addition, you should identify which departments need to communicate with external entities and what is their current numbering system if any.

3- Understand organization structure

Nowadays more and more organizations are working in different geographical location and some of them (construction companies) usually have a complex structure.

Complex organization structure requires more complex document numbering and you should make sure that the system you use is flexible enough.

4- Create a document numbering procedure

The first step is to create a unique identifier for the document. This can be done by adding an acronym or code to the beginning of the number, such as “INC-HR-CV-00012” for example.

The second step is to insert this identifier on a form near the top, such as “INC-HR-CV-00012” in case you are still working with paper documents or as a reference ID in your DMS.

Thirdly, it is important that you keep records of all your document control numbers and their corresponding dates in order to avoid confusion later on.

As a summary, you should

1. Create a unique ID for the document

2. Create an automated system in order to assign numbers to documents as they are created

3. Assign each document with its own unique ID number

5- Send for approval and implementation

When the DCN document is finalized, you should send it to all concerned parties for feedback and implementation.

6- TRAIN employees

Whenever you want to apply changes, you should make sure that employees are well trained and understand how it works in order to minimize errors and confusion.

7- Update when necessary

This document control numbering should always be well maintained and updated in order to cater for new document classification and any issues that were not addressed in any previous step.

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