Document Control: Managing the Relationship Between Client and Contractor


In issue #17 of the Document Control Tribune, we welcomed special guests: Four Document Controllers, involved in projects, gave us their tips on how to manage the relationship between Client and Contractor on a project, from a Document Control perspective. 


We interviewed 4 Document Controllers, working together on the same projects, on both sides of the contractual fence: one is working on the Client side, the other one on the Contractor side.

  • Liz and Jenny are both working on the Balranald Project as well as the JA Upgrade Project, in the mineral sands mining industry. Liz is working on the Client side, and Jenny on the Contractor side (Engineering & Design).
  • Tatjana (Client side) and Emily (Contractor side) worked together on the “Trianel Windpark Borkum (TWBII)” project, which is a 200MW offshore wind farm project in the German North Sea (renewable energy industry).

To find out more about Liz, Jenny, Tatjana and Emily, read their personal interviews here


Here are best practices to efficiently manage the relationship between Client and Contractor on a project, from a Document Control stand-point.


Clear requirements from the beginning of the project


It is an area which, if overlooked, can be a real challenge throughout the project. 


Emily explained “The biggest challenges for DC on the Contractor side are to understand the requirements of the Client and then to figure out how to appropriately incorporate these requirements with internal procedures.“


Jenny also finds that “As the Contractor, it is challenging when the Client’s procedures and requirements are enforced, particularly when it conflicts with our own standards.  This may be in the form of document numbering and revision protocols, or the mandate to use a certain EDMS. By the same token, depending on the project I can also be the Client, so I know that I am often the one insisting on those requirements!”


Tatjana confirms “As of Client DC point of view, one of the biggest challenges is probably to communicate your requirements in regards to the expected deliverables and to ensure that Contractors apply to the requirements throughout the project. My tip to overcome that challenge: to have Document Control involved from the very beginning of a project. Not only to have DC covered in the contract, but prior to that, DC should be an integral part during tender and every step that follows.”


Involve DC from the beginning of the project


It is indeed one of the secrets for a smooth project. Involving Document Control from the beginning (tender & proposal phase). 


Emily explains “Document control should be involved from the beginning of the project even before the contract is signed. DC should review all documentation-related items and put forward any clarifications required. [If not], the rest of the project will be a challenge.”


Awareness of the (non-DC) team & users


If users do not understand the rules and processes involved with Document Control, then it is likely that this will create struggles (both for the Document Controllers and the users) throughout the project. 


Tatjana explains that: “it is paramount to have efficient processes already in place that are understood and followed by every person on the project as part of the company´s and teams´ working culture.“


How to achieve team awareness? Emily has a tip: “It is important that the project team is aware of the role that DC plays in the project. Educating your project team ensures that they will involve DC before making promises to the Client which are not possible.”


Good communication

“Clear communication has been and always is an item on nearly every lesson learnt agenda and it is one of the most important key instruments for a smoothly running project.” Tatjana shared. 


Emily adds that “it is also important to maintain clear and open communication with your counterpart on the Client side. In the end you are both working towards the same goal and the project goes much more easily when you can talk about it.”


For Jenny it is important to “be helpful and approachable, both with your immediate colleagues and your Client.“


Liz sums it by saying that the key is to “be accessible, consistent, knowledgeable and dependable (friendly helps too). Cooperation with regards to systems, processes and compliance will follow naturally from that.”


Cooperation between DCs on Client and Contractor sides

Liz explains: “I feel that if we want good, consistent and quality documentation, a little bit of effort goes a long way. Taking the time to help and direct somebody will time and time again pay dividends in good quality documentation and a good relationship. They will know exactly what to expect from you and they will know what you expect of them. For example, for cases where, on the Contractor’s side, it is a junior that gets passed the Document Control baton, I sometimes do informal training over the phone or via email.”


Considering that, as DCs, you are part of the same team, even if one is on the Contractor side and the other one on the Client side, no one wins if Document Control fails on a project!





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Other blog articles that might interest you:

Integrating Document Control as Part of Project Control

Relationship between Client and Contractor: Overcoming Typical Issues

Avoiding Recurrent Document Control Problems

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Comments: 1
  • #1

    محمد عبدالله مصطفى وهدان (Monday, 11 March 2019 11:17)