What is Document Version Control? (With Examples)

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You want to manage your version control for files in a very precise manner. When users submit a document in your system, you need to know when and how it’s updated all the time. This is why you need good document version control.

Document version control is a mechanism for incrementing, tracking, and documenting changes in documents or files that occur over the period of their lifecycle. It allows us to control modifications, review/approvals, and roll back as needed.

The best part about document versions is that it enables you to keep track of everyone who has edited your documents, who last updated them, and what changes they made.

Document version control helps to keep track of document changes and identify critical decisions made along the process. Without it, employees may be forced to deal with out-of-date, incomplete, or absent documents resulting in significant cost and efficiency difficulties.

The most popular way to maintain version control of documents is using a revision control system. It’s the best way to manage changes and track who made what changes and when. Document control software is used in software development and many other fields, but they’re particularly helpful for managing documents.

If there are no document version control guidelines to be applied, individuals will typically have their own different and unique ad-hoc methods of monitoring versions. It’s easy to see how this may swiftly lead to chaos and confusion.

What is Document Version Control?

When we generate a document, we normally alter it and send it out for review as many times as we need to in order to have the final official document ready. To reduce the possibility of employees working on the erroneous version number, losing a document, or replacing other colleagues’ work, the document version control process must be managed with care.

An effective version control method clearly defines the guidelines that must be followed by all employees in a company from the initial modifications of a revised document to the final official draft. It is part of a wider document control strategy that should be maintained in order to effectively manage documents during their lifecycle.

This process may be done manually, which requires employees to manually define the version number depending on the procedure (if one exists), or it can be totally automated by utilizing a document management system or an enterprise content management system.

Using a system to verify that the document version control guidelines are correctly performed would, of course, reduce the risk of mistakes and ensure that we are working on the current version of the document.

Small businesses can still use spreadsheets to handle this process, but the most essential thing is that all organizations recognize the need for a document management method.

Document Version Control Best Practices

To properly manage multiple versions, you must specify a naming convention for documents that include the version number. Minor and major indications, such as 0.1,0.2, or 1, should be included in version numbers. Finally, the document version control table is included.

Effective version control of your documents is important when creating documents and other records that are subjected to extensive modification and redrafting. Without it, you risk working on old versions, losing track of document revisions, and ultimately reducing staff productivity.

Ultimately, you should change the document versions manually whenever a modification on that document is needed regardless of whether it is a minor or major update. In the absence of a system, this will allow you to keep track of all modifications made manually.

The top document version control guidelines are:

1- Naming conventions

Among the top document version control best practices is to have a standard naming convention across all aspects of your organization.

Effective version control for files can be used to help writers maintain their files and track changes. It can be used to keep track of old versions, revisions, comments, and other things that the writer may want to keep in mind.

At the most basic level, you may utilize file naming standards to indicate the current version of the same document. Along with the subject, use the document’s file name to establish the version and status, for example:

For history management, the version number, updater name, and date should all be placed on the first page of the revised document.

2- Version numbers

We will go through this area in greater detail in the following section, but as a general rule, a document must exist to manage the document version number reflecting both minor and major update.

If your company works with other companies, you should coordinate with them to use the same version numbers on documents to make the process easier and less complicated.

Good document versioning is considered among the top document version control best practices that organizations need to follow.

3- Document version control table

To label a version of documents, most of us add a document version control table at the beginning of each created document. The document version control example below will define the different document versioning, the creators of each version, the creation date, and who approved it in case approval is required.

VersionAuthorDateApproved By
0.1Haissam Abdul Malak14-Nov-2021John Doe
0.2Haissam Abdul Malak16-Nov-2021John Doe
1Haissam Abdul Malak20-Nov-2021John Doe
Version control table

Document Version Control Numbering

We usually number the versions depending on the modifications to be implemented. For example, when a draft of a document is completed and available for review, the minor version number should be incremented, for example, from 0 to 0.1, 0.2, 0.3, until a finished version is ready, at which point the major version number is incremented to 1, and so on.

Version numbering is extremely important and useful as it aids in differentiating one version of a document from another. For certain documents, a basic numbering system consisting of consecutive whole numbers may be enough to keep track of which version you are working on.

Some documents will simply require the most basic procedures, such as naming conventions, but more complicated and formal publications will require a version control table.

However, for approved documents that go through various phases of production before reaching a final version, and for those that are generated with input from multiple persons, you may choose to use version numbers to keep track of both small and important changes to that document and manage version history.

There are two types of version numbers: major and minor (some will call them Version and Revision).

Minor Version Number: Minor changes made to a document, such as grammatical or spelling errors. Increase the decimal number to signify minor modifications to a document. (0.1, 0.2, and so on)

Major Version number: Major modifications are alterations to a document that necessitate its re-approval. Major changes are expressed by increasing the full number by one.

When we begin modifying documents, we must append a new version number to the end of the file title in order to better identify which version we are working on.

That is why document version control best practices are essential. Without it, you risk team members utilizing the incorrect version and wasting time re-reviewing and re-editing the proper version.

How Document Version Control Tools Can Help You with 5 Amazing Use Cases

Some of the most common use cases of document version control are:

  1. When you need to share a document with multiple people, but don’t want anyone to make any changes without your approval;
  2. When you need to store different versions of a document for future reference;
  3. When you need to store your personal notes or drafts for future reference;
  4. When you’re collaborating with others on a single project or project proposal, and want everyone to have access to all the same information;
  5. When you’re working on a project with multiple people, but don’t want them copying each other’s work by accident

How Can a DMS or ECM Assist?

A document management system contains all of the capabilities required to assist you in managing document version control guidelines automatically.

Most systems will automatically display the latest version of the document, assign a version number based on your preferences when a modification is made, lock the document as it is being changed, and, most significantly, offer a full history of all activities on the document.

Locking While Modification

When a document has to be updated, it must first be locked from the system.

When you check out, the solution will automatically lock the document to prevent it from being modified by another colleague. It also displays a label indicating who is checking out the paper. If the document has been checked out for a lengthy period, you might ask the employee for further details.

Auto-Version Number Increment

When the document is modified in the system, the new version number is automatically updated based on specified preferences. The user must decide whether the modification is major or minor.

Version Comparison

Some of the systems on the market may provide a comparison of different versions based on metadata and complete document change history. This is critical for future audit trails and follow-ups.

Audit Trail

A full audit trail is a detailed record of all modifications and activities performed on a file. This information is far more extensive than simple document versioning. When a file was successfully and unsuccessfully accessed, workflow history and a record of modifications all contribute to a more complete picture of a file’s history.

Rolling Back To previous Versions

Certain roles in the system have the potential to roll back to the previous version. That is, if you want to go back to version 2 and make it the active version, you can do it in a few clicks and it will be available to everyone.

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