What is Document Control?

Document Control is a profession and a job role that is now widely implemented in various activity sectors. 

 

However, many struggle to define it simply and effectively.

Document Control Definition

Document Control is a document management profession whose purpose is to enforce controlled processes and practices for the creation, review, modification, issuance, distribution and accessibility of documents.

 

The role ensures that documentation available at official points of use within an organisation is trusted by its users and contains up-to-date, reliable, checked and formally approved information.

 

It is mostly present in activity sectors or organisations:

  • Involving engineering and construction; and/or
  • Wherein documentation is frequently modified and updated; and/or
  • Seeking or holding ISO 9001 certification; and/or
  • Wherein finding reliable, up-to-date and official documents and information is of critical importance; and/or
  • Which are regulated; and/or
  • Wherein the unintended use of an outdated or unofficial documents can lead to injury or death; and/or
  • Wherein large amounts of documents are produced and exchanged between different entities; and/or
  • Involving technical operations; and/or
  • With a strong emphasis on compliance, traceability and auditability.

Document Control is a profession and it is not to be confused with Electronic Document Management Software packages, or the use thereof.

Document Control manages documents throughout their lifecycle

In a very simple way, we could define it as organising documents, data and information in a consistent, standardised and controlled manner.

 

We can also say that document control is the set of measures taken to regulate the preparation, review, approval, release, distribution, access, storage, security, alteration, change, withdrawal or disposal of documents... so, pretty much everything about documents!

 

Document control is a requirement from the ISO 9001 standard

Document control is also a requirement from the ISO(*) 9001 international standard (Quality Management Systems - Requirements). This standard states notably that:

 

"A documented procedure shall be established to define the controls needed:

  1. to approve documents for adequacy prior to issue,
  2. to review and update as necessary and re-approve documents,
  3. to ensure that changes and the current revision status of documents are identified,
  4. to ensure that relevant versions of applicable documents are available at points of use,
  5. to ensure that documents remain legible and readily identifiable,
  6. to ensure that documents of external origin are identified and their distribution controlled, and to prevent the unintended use of obsolete documents, and to apply suitable identification to them if they are retained for any purpose."

 

(*) ISO = International Organisation for Standardisation

Source: Extract from ISO 9001 standard. The complete latest version of this standard can be purchased here: iso.org 

Document Control is critical to any business

Document control is key to any business. It is a crucial element to ensure efficiency, performance, reliability, traceability, quality and safety. 

 

If you are starting or pursuing a career in Document Control, you may be interested in our articles on:

 

Good to know

 

Consepsys is the world leading provider of Document Control courses and certification programs. Find out more here!


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