This question may seem peculiar for those who know what a good Document Control can do.
But these questions come more often than you might think:
- Why do I need document control?
- Why implement it?
- Can't our employees/engineers do their own filing?
- Why should I invest time, effort and money inthis?
First of all, document control is so much more than just filing documents (To find out exactly what is Document Control, have a look at this previous article).
And this is where its value resides: implementing document control will support all the company's activities, and will add value at least in the following areas:
Document Control helps retrieving information and documents
This is maybe the benefit that everybody will see immediately.
A lot of companies working without professional document control are struggling with document retrieval. Imagine if every employee searches for a document or for information during 15 minutes per day (and by saying 15 minutes, I am actually quite optimistic... try to calculate how much time you devote every day to searching for documents or information, by yourself... you will be surprised).
Document control will definitely help you retrieve the correct information in a reasonable period of time. In other words, no time wasted searching for a document, or information.
Document control allows to get control over documentation
Because in document control, there is the word... "control". Getting control of documents (including document modifications, updates, withdrawal, etc.) means that you will be certain that the information at hand is the most up-to-date one.
With Document Control, you will be certain that all revisions of a document are stored, but that the document at hand is the current (latest) one.
This helps to ensure that we don't have a safety incidents such as the examples from the "Control of Documentation & Safety" article.
Document Control is critical to ensure traceability
Who sent this document to whom, when, and with what technical or commercial content ?
This is not "Big Brother's watching you", this is simply the way to ensure traceability.
Why do you need traceability? Because it ensures that you will never lose track of what happened on documents / on your project / in your department.
The flow of information and interactions is so important on a daily basis, that you can not remember everything that has happened.
Document control and traceability are here to help you keep the record.
Document Control helps protecting companies' interests
In case of an incident on an installation for example (a few examples are available here), it is crucial and critical to be able to retrieve the last updated applicable documentation relative to this installation... and to retrieve it quickly.
Without a proper document control implemented in your Company, you will have a lot of difficulties to do it.
Note: Nowadays, many important information and instructions not only reside in formal documents, but also in emails. This comes with new challenges: read our article on Email Management here.
Document Control supports auditability
Without professional document control, you might not be able to provide the necessary information to auditors (internal or external) in due time.
Document Control ensures consistency
Within the same company (or within the same project, the same department, etc), document control means working by the same standards, standardising documentation, and complying with industry regulations and legal requirements.
Document Control provides key information on the project status
Day-to-day professional document control will enable you to know, at any point in time, the status of projects deliverables.
Document Control is essential to information security
Document control also helps in the information security area.
By helping defining the rules for accessing documents (who can access a document, who can read it, modify it, etc) and by implementing these rules either on the network drives, or within a document control / document management software. Therefore, document control will avoid uncontrolled changes on documents, as well as unallowed access to documents.
On the other hand, by defining the rules for accessing documents, it will also ensure that any person who needs to have access to a document, will actually have access to it.
Document Control is critical to any business
In conclusion, implementing document control and investing in skilled professional document controllers (more on the job role and tasks of a Document Controller here) is the way to protect your company, as well as ensuring accessibility, retrievability, control and security for your documents and your information.
Save your employees' time and energy. Protect your interests. Entrust your documentation to professionals.