Document Control System – All You Need To Know?

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Effective documentation is essential for the smooth management of any business. Businesses need documentation in every aspect of their operations, from compliance to quality control. If these documents are not properly managed, they can bring the company’s operations to a complete stop, cause huge losses, and even incur penalties from regulatory authorities. 

To effectively manage these large volumes of documents and make them available for business operations, companies need a robust document management system. In this article, we explore what a document management system is, where it is used, and the role it plays in business operations.

Dive in to learn more. 

What is a document control system?

Document control or document management is an organized way of storing, reviewing, updating, and disposing off of documents within an organization. 

Organizations typically deal with a large number of documents daily. These include purchase orders, invoices, receipts, blueprints, organizational policies, employee documents, and more. Some of these documents such as invoices and receipts may be produced daily in large numbers. Other documents such as organizational policies, standard operating procedures, and others may evolve over time and often need some type of revision number.

Businesses need a document control strategy to decide which documents have to be stored, how they will be stored, and for how long. The strategy must also describe how the documents will be updated and distributed throughout the organization. Organizations also need a robust access control system for their documents. 

Besides text files, the scope of document management may also include images, videos, code, and others. A major part of document control is defining processes to ensure that every piece of documentation ever published within the organization has been vetted and approved. Version control is another major part of document management. 

Early document systems were largely used to store image files, but many modern systems store files in their native format or in HTML format. Modern systems also use cloud storage and come with search and analysis capabilities. 

Electronic document management systems offer businesses a solution to manage documents across the organization and distribute them as needed. It will typically include an online repository to store digital documents as well as copies of paper documents. It will also allow businesses to configure complex access control and will be capable of tracking the changes and versions of the documents. 

Electronic document management systems also help employees quickly access the information needed for different tasks and it help businesses ensure that everyone within the company is working according to the latest versions. 

Which industries need a document control system?

All industries that handle a lot of documents will find a document or document version control system useful. In the software development industry or in the wider tech industry, companies use GitHub or similar repositories to store and manage code. Git is a version control system developed to manage large-scale software development projects. In the IT sector, ITIL describes extensive procedures and best practices for document management.

In highly regulated industries such as healthcare, finance, and food processing sectors, companies are mandated to store and maintain documents for specific periods. 

In the life sciences sector, there are regulations from FDA and the EU describing how the documents must be maintained. For example, according to FDA CFR 21, requires medical device manufacturers to designate a document control personnel who has to review and approve all documents before they’re distributed within the company or among the general public. The code also defines document control procedures to review and approve the changes and maintain its records.   

Financial and accounting companies are also required to store and maintain every document they produce and records of every transaction they’ve made. They’re also required to store information regarding their clients and customers as well as their transactions. 

Construction and manufacturing firms are also required to maintain documents regarding their operations. OSHA and EPA rules require companies in these industries to document their operations for compliance audits. 

Besides being legally mandated, effective document control procedure and management is essential for quality control as well. One of the first steps to implement a quality document control procedure or quality assurance program is to document all the business processes and activities within an organization. This is necessary to establish consistency in operations, output, and quality of deliverables to clients and customers. In fact, every set of ISO standards has detailed requirements for recording and documenting processes with a formal unique identifier.

What happens when there is no proper document management system or a DMS?

When there is no proper document management system or policies in place, the business can face a lot of challenges as the number of documents goes up. Here are a few of them: 

Compliance problems

Compliance with most laws and regulations requires extensive documentation. A simple office building will need extensive documentation to show that it is compliant with rules regarding fire and safety, building maintenance, tax statements, rental agreements, and more. 

Besides this, regulations from OSHA, EPA, and other governmental organizations demand that businesses keep extensive documentation regarding various aspects of their activities. Without this documentation, the organization may fail audits, face legal action and penalties, and even have their businesses shut down.

When there are no document management systems in place, the organization faces a high risk of compliance failures. 

Productivity issues

When there are no document management systems or policies in place, employees won’t be able to access the information for doing their tasks. They will end up spending time looking for documents, SOPs, or organizational policies. They may even come across outdated or incorrect information and use them to execute their activities resulting in reworks, wastage, and loss of resources. 

Document loss

Document loss can occur without a full document control management system due to a variety of factors. For example, documents may be accidentally deleted or misplaced, or become corrupted due to hardware failure or software errors. Additionally, human error can lead to document loss when employees fail to follow the proper procedures for handling and storing documents.

Documents can also be lost in transit if they are sent electronically and not properly monitored. Without document control systems security protocols in place, there is no way to track the whereabouts of a document and it could easily be lost or stolen. Furthermore, if documents are not consistently backed up to date, and stored securely, they may be vulnerable to hackers and malicious software. In some cases, documents may even be destroyed due to natural disasters such as floods or fires.

Without a centralized document numbering system used for managing documents, it becomes difficult for organizations to maintain control over their sensitive information. Organizations that lack document control systems are more prone to data breaches which can have serious repercussions on their reputation and bottom line. Additionally, Auditors may find that an organization does not have adequate controls over its records leading them to impose penalties on the organization for failing do so.

To protect against these risks associated with document loss, organizations should have processes in place for regularly backing up all important records and storing them securely in multiple locations, both digitally and physically. Organizations should also ensure that all staff members are aware of the importance of documenting procedures and following them correctly when dealing with any form of documentation.

Finally, organizations should invest in quality document control systems that can monitor where documents originate from, who has access to them at any given time, and where they end up after being used or shared internally or externally.

Quality control problems

When there is no clear documentation of the processes, the consistency goes down. Every time the process is executed, there will be differences in the end results. 

For example, if there are no processes for onboarding an employee, new team members may be untrained to perform their tasks and deliver the output as expected. Or in a manufacturing company, if the processes for equipment maintenance and calibration are not defined well, the quality of output from these devices will vary considerably. 

Decreased customer satisfaction

Lack of documentation creates delays in delivery, lack of clear communication and updates to the clients, and as discussed above, quality control issues. This creates customer satisfaction issues for the organization. Even after the services are delivered, if there is no documentation or standards for customer support, it will impact the experience they have with your brand or organization.  

What are the benefits of a document control system?

Enhanced accessibility 

A document control system makes documents accessible throughout the organization. For starters, employees won’t have to ask around or go through archives to find relevant documents. Most modern document control systems have advanced search functions that allow users to find files by name, date of creation, and in some cases, by the keywords within the file. 

DMS systems also simplify access management within the organization. It allows the organization to specify the people allowed to read or edit specific documents. These systems also make it easy to share documents; employees don’t have to continuously email each other the latest versions or get on conference calls to discuss changes. 

Streamlined audits 

Detailed documentation is a crucial part of successful audits. Auditing teams require detailed records of activities under their purview; if it’s a financial audit, they’ll need all financial records, if it’s a quality control audit, they’ll need documentation for all of your processes, and if it is a safety audit, they’ll need documents about safety training, equipment, and processes. 

A dedicated document management system can make these documents available and will ensure that they’re updated and maintained and will streamline audit processes. 

Better quality assurance 

Documentation makes processes more consistent. It offers employees clear guidance on what they’re expected to do and deliver. It removes ad-hoc processes from the organization and creates more consistent output. 

Once there’s clear and easily accessible documentation, it’s easier to understand the source of quality problems and fix them. It also becomes easy to get certifications related to quality control when the processes are documented. 

Improved service delivery

Accessible documentation is crucial for employee performance because it promotes clear communication between clients, customers, and stakeholders. With easy access to important information, businesses can enhance service delivery and improve customer satisfaction. By prioritizing comprehensive documentation, companies can ensure that all requirements are understood and met with precision, leading to a seamless and successful business operation.

Cost savings

Implementing a document control system can provide significant cost savings for businesses of all sizes. By replacing traditional paper-based documentation processes with a digital system, companies can save money on printing, storage, and distribution costs. Additionally, document control systems help to eliminate document errors and reduce the risk of non-compliance penalties.

This can lead to fewer legal expenses and an overall decrease in operational costs with easy to retrieve audit trails. Furthermore, centralized document management systems enable employees to quickly and efficiently access the information they need from a single document to a collection of electric records saving valuable time and increasing productivity.

Overall, the benefits of using a document control system extend beyond cost savings and can significantly improve business operations.

Check out Cadynce for effective document control

Cadynce redefines how work gets done by helping enterprises streamline their operations. The low-code platform can help businesses bring together their documents and manage them easily. The platform supports integrations of common digital workplace solutions and can fit easily into workflows and help automate them. 

Ready to create effective document control within your organization? Check out Cadynce now.

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