They say that “a good relationship starts with good communication”.
This tells us that Document Control professionals must work at their communication to develop a good relationship with their teams.
Communication skills are hard to come by, and communication techniques too.
Consepsys consultants were asked in 2020 to observe and to collect over a period of one year the best practices in Document Control communication from our interactions with our community of thousands around the world.
Below are some of the most interesting findings.
(1) Give the rules of the ‘game’ in advance
It may sound obvious, but in the core of day-to-day activities, it is easy to forget fundamentals. Many Document Control professionals struggle because they forget to announce what the rules are before they play referee. When you play a new board game, the first thing that you do is to go through the rules and to make sure that all players hear and understand those rules. The same applies to Document Control: if users are given the rules in advance, they are more likely to comply with them. But also, it is easier to tell someone that their action is not compliant if you have told them the rules in advance.
(2) Train users – don’t send them ‘novels’ to read
Even very experienced Document Control professionals struggle to avoid this pitfall. Empirical observation and experience has shown that, when it comes to Document Control rules, it is significantly more effective to put users in a room, to train them and to go through the rules one by one - than to send them a 50-page procedure and to expect them to read and to comply.
Users are as busy as Document Control professionals, and their human nature results in that, because Document Control is neither their job nor their priority, they will not invest the time to go through written material. They have to be invited to a forum wherein they can give their full attention, and wherein the rules are explained and clarified to them.
(3) Use a ‘language’ with which users can relate:
Document Control professionals are typically specialists in their field and, like many other specialists, they can forget to place themselves in the shoes of whom they are talking to. As a result, they may fail to adapt their communication to the ‘language’ and the perspective of their interfaces.
Imagine for a second an Engineer coming to you with this question: “Where can I find the document that contains the specific heat capacity of the heating oil?” In all likelihood, you would not know. But if the engineer came and said: “Where can I find the Basis of Design document for project ABC?”, then, that is a question that you, Document Control professional, know how to deal with. This second question is asked in a ‘language’ that a Document Controller can understand.
Therefore, when you interact with users, try and communicate in a way with which they can relate.