Strolling through the document control process

Barb ClearyControlling an organization’s documents and their revisions is essential to the maintenance of quality, but sometimes the task of maintaining these documents and assuring their security seems overwhelming. Document control is more successful if it’s simple and intuitive. That’s where a software solution can help. Document control software acts as a single repository for all of an organization’s documents. It is used to securely store documents and keep an audit trail of when changes are made and by whom for traceability purposes. Here’s a walk-through example of a process for electronic document control:

  1. A document is generated that outlines procedure for handling a specific process.
  2. Document is uploaded and saved with specific rights assigned as to who can add, change, and approve the content, as well as others that may simply need to view the document. Different rights can be assigned depending on the department or group’s requirements within the organization.
  3. When changes to the document are requested, emails are forwarded automatically to alert other users that the document is being submitted for revision. The users are then able to approve the document, reject it with comments as to why, or simply ask for additional information. Most systems can be set so that this process is completed within a specific period of time.
  4. Once all the approvals are received, the document is assigned a revision number and is finalized in the system for view by others.
  5. Intervals can be established so that each user must approve the document on a prescribed period to ensure the document’s relevance over time.

For a more thorough discussion of document control, see this February article in Quality magazine.