Document control is one of the most common applications found in compliance today—regardless of industry, it’s a common need to manage your company’s policies, procedures, job description and more. It is also an integral part of quality and compliance management systems, because in order to effectively maintain consistency, an organization needs to ensure that its records are controlled.

In this aspect, document control can be considered the hub of an organization. It holds all data and information about the company, while ensuring that the policies and practices that you’ve set in place are up to date. 

Tech Tips

  • The document control system sets the foundation for an effective quality system.
  • It holds everything from policies to procedures to work instructions and more.
  • When it comes to effective document control it is necessary to have a solution that will ensure that quality is controlled and documented.

Automated document control provides a method for document management that is flexible, organized, efficient and consistent.
Below are seven ways automated solutions benefit the document control process: 

1. Workflows for All Document Types: No two document types are alike. There are differences within each that should be taken into consideration. For example, a job description cannot be treated the same as a work instruction or procedure. Each of these types of documents may have separate approvers, managers, and workflows and should be handled in a unique manner. Automated document control systems help manage documents efficiently by facilitating dedicated workflows for all document types, each complete with their own routing options.

2. Reduction of waste: With an automated document control system you run completely paperless. Automating your document control process enables you to eliminate the paper chase to promote a more efficient workflow. This results in a more controlled and centralized repository that permits better tracking and consistency of documents in the long run. 

3. Highly Trained Employees: A critical component to any document control system is that if a new document is created or an existing document is changed, people need to be trained. This is a vital reason for having a document control process. During revision or creation of a document, the user should be able to specify the type of training associated with it. A bonus is the ability to automatically integrate training. Some companies include a “waiting release” phase. This means that before the document is released, it is out in a holding pattern—this is when training happens. The benefit is that employees can train on the document before it is released to the world, so that when the document is released employees are already trained and knowledgeable on it. Some systems automatically have a training system built into document control, which allows them to integrate training with document control and to test their knowledge on that document.

Ultimately, 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—manual tracking and training processes leave room for error. A document control system integrated with the training application 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. 

4. Intelligent Business Rules for Review and Approval: A document control system makes flexible routing an option. Since documents cannot just be checked in and out, there is a process of approval and review as well as document sign off, which goes through different phases in the workflow. Flexible routing becomes a factor in any good document control system because it enables organizations to route documents to the next phase automatically with intelligent business rules provided. Delegation and escalation rules are able to assign delegates if someone is out of the office or if there is an impending due date. This ensures employees are kept on track and all deadlines are met. If an employee is out of the office, the document can then be assigned to a designated substitute for approval. 

5. Change Request and Revision Control: Document control is a constant process. It follows through with documents from beginning to end and even after. Change control and revision control allow employees to access all documents from the past and changes to be made in the future. The right document control system allows its users to create their own workflow layout so that it is simple for each user to work with. If a document is sent through document control and needs revision, the original document holds its place until updates and changes are selected. Once the document is approved then it will take over the original’s spot.

Some organizations are based in more than one location. In this case, a document change affects multiple servers. Document control as a system makes a global change once edits are made. This allows an employee to make multiple document changes within the workflow and save it on multiple servers. Once a document is saved through document control, all affected areas will display the change as well. 

It is important when making changes to documents to include a multi-document change request. This will save time and resources. A good system includes a change request automatically. An effective change request ensures proper control when changing a record and will save all information with related documents taken into account. 

6. Reporting: Organizations receive a constant influx of data coming and going into the system. With automated document control, visibility into this data is greatly enhanced. Good document control has reporting engines tied to it. This allows the system to quickly and effectively look at data on an aggregate level, and run ad hoc reports, scheduled reports, and template reports on the health of the system. People want to be apprised of where overdue documents are so they can take steps to fix them. Reporting provides this visibility. 

7. Mobility: Mobility within a document control module is absolute. It allows the organization to make changes and approve and distribute documents more efficiently. A mobile solution allows its users to quickly make sense of data, check on the status of an event or complete actions while inside and outside of the office. Mobile dashboards allow management to see what documents may be overdue and allows escalation to the correct employees who will be notified. This ensures that due dates are met. The ability to take document control mobile helps you stay in control, regardless of 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.
When it comes to effective document control it is necessary to have a solution that will optimize business processes, save time and ensure that quality is controlled and documented. Once it is, you are able to ensure that quality then reaches all other areas of the organization as it is described above. The right document control system will fit in with the way an organization previously operates to allow it to function and reach its highest potential. Q