Document control is a vital practice within organizations to ensure that information is accurate, up-to-date, accessible, and aligned with the nature of the business. In a world where information has become the lifeblood of organizations, it is critical to ensure the proper flow of information and transparency of business activities to help companies function efficiently.
Document control refers to a set of procedures intended to oversee the creation, review, approval, release, distribution, access, storage, security, and disposal of documents. It is the bedrock upon which compliance, accuracy, integrity, efficiency, and accountability are built.
In this post, we will learn what is document control. importance of document control, as well as the top eight steps to take for an optimal document control process.
Document Control Definition
Document control is a set of policies and procedures that help ensure that the project team has access to the appropriate files, information, and resources.
Document control can be used for managing changes to documents such as project plans, design documents, or specifications. It can also be used for managing changes to other types of files such as images, videos, audio files, or code.
It has been undervalued and has not received the attention it deserves over the years. However, things have lately begun to improve as a result of several new technology solutions that assist in information and document management.
With the assistance of a well-defined document control policy, a robust document management system, and best practices, the document controller’s function is to manage all this while still assisting users.
Document controllers are responsible for preparing and managing documents in a timely and efficient manner. They are in charge of the numbering, sorting, filing, storage, and retrieval of electronic and hard copy documents generated within an organization.
I highly recommend checking the below article
Document Control vs Document Management (theecmconsultant.com)
Why Document Control is Important?
Information is only valuable when it can help companies gain knowledge and effectively guide operations. You must ensure that only the required resources are handled and captured. This can only happen if you have a procedure control and controlled document (controlled copy).
Document control helps improve performance by increasing productivity, improving documentation quality, enhancing compliance with different rules and regulations, improving document security, and reducing document breaches.
The process must ensure that document management policy is applied throughout the document lifecycle. It involves detailing how documents are created, reviewed & approved, distributed as per DDM, traced, revised, published, retrieved, and completed audit log.
Document control policies are important for companies because they ensure that all documents are completed in a timely manner and that there is a system in place for tracking and retrieving documents from employees. They should be updated periodically to account for changes in the workplace and new technologies.
Let’s have a look at how an efficient document control procedure can help:
The document controller procedures should specify who can create documents and based on which criteria. This includes how the document is named and numbered, as well as applying metadata for easier search. In addition, it should be stated what are the possible document repositories.
Review & Approval
The document control procedure, which revolves around document review and approval, determines the individual or entity in charge of document review, revisions, and approval. This policy is necessary because quality assurance standards demand that documents should be reviewed for accuracy.
Documents are exchanged on a regular basis with various parties and partners, whether internally or externally.
Transmittals and correspondence are sent between contractors, customers, and subcontractors in the construction industry, in particular. Part of document controller activities is to keep track of who sent the document/transmittal, to whom, when, and why.
Using a document management system or an enterprise content management system will help the assignee to have a full log and configure document access control.
Changes in a controlled document are part of its lifecycle. The controller procedures need to clearly define the document version control policy of a controlled copy.
Essentially, it must identify who has the authority to make changes to the document. It must adhere to the version control numbering best practices.
When changes are made, and for certain documents, an approval process is normally required. The approval hierarchy should have been established in the document control procedure based on the document type.
Document revision control is considered very essential and document controllers need to keep a close eye on what is being changed and by whom.
Using a system, you will get a report on document changes, a comparison of what has changed in a matter of seconds, and facilitate version control in documents.
I highly recommend checking this article for complete in-depth knowledge.
What is Document Version Control? (With Examples) (theecmconsultant.com)
The procedure control policy should specify how and when the document is published, as well as who has access to it (document access control).
The policy should also identify external documents and control their distribution.
Controlled document retrieval must be fast and precise. It should be based on appropriate classifications and metadata.
Part of the document controller activities is to make sure that users can retrieve documents easily and fast as inefficient retrieval can waste time.
Document Control Log (Audit Log)
Part of the document controller function is to have the full details of a document from creation to approval and retirement. Doing this manually requires lots of attention and time, and it is somehow nearly impossible.
The document controller can keep track of each transaction that occurs on the document with the help of a system. All relevant information, such as who viewed the document, who downloaded it, the creation date, the revision date, which documents were part of transmittals, and so on, can be retrieved at any time.
Document Obsolete Or Destruction
When a controlled document needs to remove or made unavailable, it should be obsoleted or retired.
This is a critical step to prevent obsolete documents from being unintended used. A record control procedure and a record retention policy should be used to identify this process.
What is Document Control Procedure?
It is important to have a document control procedure in place. This ensures that the documents are managed and stored properly. It also helps with the retrieval of documents, which can be necessary when they need to be shared with other departments or when a document needs to be modified. Document control procedures are often used for records management purposes as well.
A document control procedure is designed to ensure that all documents are managed and stored properly and that they can easily be retrieved when needed. Document control procedures are often used for records management purposes as well, ensuring all documents are managed appropriately and then archived appropriately at the end of their lifecycle.
What are Document Control Numbers?
Document Control Numbers (DCNs) are used to identify documents. DCNs are assigned by the organization and they can be used to track documents from their creation, through the process of their development, and then to their final disposition.
DCNs provide an audit trail that enables organizations to know who created a document, who edited it, who approved it for release or publication, and when. This is important because it helps organizations know when a document has been tampered with or altered in any way.
Which Software is Used For Document Control?
The majority of organizations rely on a document management system to control documents within their departments. A good document management system should be capable of managing and controlling the whole document lifecycle.
For more information, you can check out below the list of free available document management systems
Top 8 Powerful Open Source Document Management Systems (theecmconsultant.com)
Steps For Efficient & Quality Document Control
Below are some steps that will help you ace the control procedures that you should follow:
1- Leverage Metadata
Without a question, the most important term in information management is metadata. As a document controller, you must leverage the use of metadata to improve classification and retrieval.
Make sure to read my previous article covering the importance of metadata
2- Make Use Of Automated Workflows
Part of the document lifecycle is the approval and review process. As a document controller, you should identify the types of documents that should be approved or reviewed before being published. This process can be automated to help drive the business faster.
A good system would allow you to configure dedicated workflows for various document types and personalize the entire document cycle. Furthermore, it will aid in automating the approval process for various activities such as leave requests, purchase orders, and invoices.
Always remember a flexible workflow is a cornerstone of process efficiency.
3- Integration with MS Office And Office365
Email is still by far the most used medium to share files and communicate between team members. For that, it is very important to have the ability to directly import data from Outlook, Word, and Excel to the system.
Another significant benefit is the potential to preserve metadata, which would speed up the process of importing documents into the system.
4- Properly Manage Documents Access
As a document controller, you must guarantee that only the people who need to view the documents have access to them.
When identifying document types, it is important to determine who has access to the documents and what they can do with them.
You may define the access level in document management systems depending on user roles and the permissions they have over this content. Some individuals, for example, can view the document, and others can edit it, make revisions, and so on.
Document Control Benefits
Organizations need to control the documents required by the quality management system, according to ISO 9001:2015. Furthermore, it is essential to maintain and have control of records as proof of compliance with specifications and to show the effectiveness of the quality management system’s operation.
The top document control benefits are:
1- Increase Productivity
According to a recent survey, knowledge workers spend nearly half of their time looking for information. You should ensure that employees can find any document in seconds by carefully controlling the document lifecycle and using metadata.
Furthermore, a good document control procedure ensures that workers are still working on the most recent version of a document.
2- Improve Quality
Document version control is at the heart of all document management best practices. It is critical to managing access, track revisions, and control access by preventing documents from falling into the hands of the wrong people.
A document controller specialist must ensure that all personnel only see up-to-date information. This has always been really important to me in my experience.
Consider what could happen in a construction project if an earlier version of a drawing is used for construction.
3- Enhance Compliance
Keeping information any longer than is constitutionally required or deleting records that should be kept for a certain period of time would almost certainly subject the company to various forms of fines, sanctions, or other legal implications.
It is very important to have in-depth information about records retention.
4- Improve Security
Remember that information is an organization’s most precious commodity. The highest priority should still be information security. To secure sensitive information from unauthorized access, the document controller should define security protocols.
In conclusion, document control is essential for every organization. Information deserves to be treated with care, confidentiality, and dignity.
What is Document Control?
It is a set of procedures intended to oversee the creation, review, approval, release, distribution, access, storage, security, correction, or disposal of documents.
What are document control procedures?
Document control procedures are a set of rules and regulations that are followed by organizations to maintain the integrity of their documents. They are designed to ensure that documents are not altered, tampered or misused in any way.
7 thoughts on “Understanding Document Control: A Comprehensive Guide”
Very well written and summarizes everything!
Thank you. Glad you found it useful
Good article. I was a document control manager for quite a number of years. I appreciate the insight.
Excellent. Thank you
Very insightful article. I handle records management in a leading government agency and I find your articles quite informative. From Meta data to the difference between digitization and digitalization…..very insightful articles.
Thank you. Glad you are finding my articles informative.
I totally agree when you said that proper document control would ensure that the information in your company is secure and would prevent any unauthorized access as well. I can imagine how important that would be for the medical field as well since they would have patient-doctor confidentiality regulations as well. They would probably need to invest in medical document management services to ensure the safety of the details regarding their patients to give them peace of mind as well.