The Benefits of Automating Your Document Control Process
The document control system sets the foundation for an effective quality system.
Regardless of the industry you serve, document control is one of the most prevalent applications in businesses today. With many business environments being so fast-paced, the amount of data flowing throughout the organization requires an effective method for managing all of this data. An automated document control system helps by centralizing all data, making it easier to create, approve and distribute all documents. This is beneficial because managing your documents manually can prove difficult and time consuming, not to mention there’s the risk of human error. However, a quality management system’s (QMS) automated document control system is designed to keep all of your company’s records organized.
Here are just a few benefits of automating your document control process:
Simplified Document Creation: There are various different document types, and each type of document must be treated differently (e.g., a job description must be handled differently than a work instruction). These document types may consist of separate approvers, managers and workflows. If you can automate the process of creating and approving documents, the process will become easier for you. The automated document control system addresses each document by type and assigns the appropriate workflow to each. This means that a workflow will be treated differently than a policy document, and so forth and each will be assigned its own unique routing.
The point of document control is to make the creation of all documents and everything that goes into it an easier process for everyone involved.
This is what makes an automatic method of routing, reviewing, and approving all documents important.
The system will route the document through review with the relevant employees and ensure that final approval is received on all documents before use and distribution.
Document Routing, Review, and Approval: The point of document control is to make the creation of all documents and everything that goes into it an easier process for everyone involved. This is what makes an automatic method of routing, reviewing, and approving all documents important. The system will route the document through review with the relevant employees and ensure that final approval is received on all documents before use and distribution. Built-in intelligent business rules will allow for exceptions to the process if needed.
An effective document control system provides an automatic method for the routing, review, and approval of all documents. This process ensures that the document has been seen by all necessary parties and has ultimately been given final approval for distribution and use. To get to this point the document must go through different steps of workflow—this is where routing capabilities come in.
The document control system should not just route documents to the next phase in the workflow, but it should also have intelligent business rules that allow for deviations in the process if necessary. For example, delegation and escalation rules allow a document to be delegated to an assigned substitute in the event the primary contact is not available. This means that if the document is pending review, the system will escalate the approval process to make sure the deadline is met.
Integration with MS Office Documents: Since many companies use Microsoft Office programs like PowerPoint, Word and Excel, it’s necessary for your document control system to work well with these tools. The document control system is able to integrate with the office files that are attached to it, to ensure that if a change is made within the Document Control, it is also reflected in the Office file and vice versa.
Integration with Employee Training: When there are changes made to any document, employees need to be apprised of new procedures and specifications and trained on any new revisions that are released. This process should be automated because manual tracking and training processes leave room for error. A document control system integrated with a Training Management system helps to easily define who needs training on each document. It also automatically updates training records for each employee, allows for self-training, and automatically updates each employee status upon training completion.
Change Made Easy: Since document control is a continual process, there will eventually be the need for change. The process of change should be a workflow in order to ensure controlled access of documents and any changes to those documents. The document control system should have a change request workflow that includes revision review and approval. In addition, it should keep the original document until the new one takes its place. In the event that a global change is needed, the document control system should allow you to make multiple document changes within the same workflow and show all documents that will be changes along with any affected areas and where it will be changed. The ability to do this without having to conduct separate change requests means more time saved for your company.
Reporting: When an organization has a lot of documents and data going into the system, it needs visibility to look at that data in a meaningful way. Having a system to filter this data is key. Good document control integrates with the quality management system’s reporting system to allow you to quickly and effectively look at data on an aggregate level, and run ad hoc reports, scheduled reports, and template reports. Employees need to know which documents are overdue so they can take steps to fix this. Reporting provides this visibility. Document control integrated with reporting helps keep business processes consistent, controlled and collaborative.
Intuitive Filtering and Data Security: In any system, the ability to keep data and documents secure is essential and critical. Appropriate levels should be able to access, approve, review and make necessary changes to documents. The document control system has the security needed to allow you to filter each document to the appropriate security levels. Filtering and securing data is often a concern in multisite centralized system—the document control system allows you to limit visibility of data to only what is necessary for each user. Depending on the user’s access level, the visibility given into each document will change, ensuring that your document control system is operating securely.
Mobility: Another benefit of automated document control system is the ability to take the system mobile. The Document Control system includes mobile review and approval, which allows you to review documents in a mobile environment, enabling your organization to makes changes to, approve and distribute documents so you can continue to operate efficiently. You can also review timelines and system reports through the use of mobile dashboards so you can see any items that are overdue or that simply need to be addressed, ensuring that all documents stay on track. In addition, you can access all records in the field, so you can retrieve all documents quickly, no matter where you are.
The document control system is the “hub” for all information flowing throughout the compliance system and sets the foundation for an effective quality system. It holds everything from policies, to procedures, to work instructions and more.
Ultimately, using the QMS to automate the process will provide you with a total solution for document control—from the creation of documents to managing change to approval and training on all documents, while providing you full visibility into every step of the process.