The Document Control Recognition Paradox


For Document Control professionals, the path to recognition can be tortuous.


There can be many odds to fight against: organisation culture, lack of awareness of the role of DC, perception that DC represents unnecessary bureaucracy, low or no support from hierarchy, and more.


None of those fights are easy, but the ownership of the fight lies with Document Control itself.



And just as trust is something that is earnt – so are respect and recognition. This is another way of saying that, to get the recognition that one seeks, one must go and get that recognition with strategy, hard work and communication.


Let’s consider this real-life ‘non-DC’ situation:


in a Western country, two 30-year-old cousins are talking. Let’s name them Cindy and Joe. They have not seen each other in a while, and therefore they catch up on each other’s life. At some point, Cindy complains of the hold that her mother has on her life: she meddles, she wants to make decisions for her, she criticises her choice of life partner and her way of life. Joe is astonished. 


“Your mother is still treating you like a child. Why do you think she does not give you recognition as an adult?”


Through the conversation, Joe learns that Cindy’s mother has been helping her out financially, quite regularly. 


Joe explains to Cindy that, as long as she accepts money from her mother, the latter will naturally feel more entitled to running her life, and she will be less likely to recognise her as an adult.

Joe suggests that Cindy stop taking money from her mother and that she take charge of her own life, to get the recognition that she wants from her mother. Cindy follows her cousin’s advice, and it works.


Why this anecdote?


Let’s transpose the situation to the work life of a Document Control professional – let’s name him Bob, who complains to a Document Controller friend (Jane) that he does not get the recognition that he wants. His boss does not include him in meetings and important discussions, his interfaces do not respect him and his users do not comply with DC rules and processes.


Jane is astonished. 


“Your boss, interfaces and users treat you like an unskilled helper. Why do you think they do not give you recognition as a professional?”


Through the conversation, Jane learns that Bob’s boss is the one writing procedures, designing DC workflows, chasing up comments from reviewers; Bob’s boss even has to undertake the modification of Excel tools like registers or templates, when it is required. Jane learns that Bob’s interfaces and users never get any clear guidance from Bob in terms of procedures and processes, because Bob himself is not knowledgeable about his own DC rules. Also, Jane learns that Bob does not understand the wider processes in which he takes part, as a Document Controller, and he makes frightening mistakes, without even being aware of it.


Jane explains to Bob that, as long as he does not take ownership and as long as he does not step up his skills and his perspective, his boss, interfaces and users will naturally consider him as an unskilled helper, and they will be less likely to recognise him as a professional.


Janes suggests that Bob take ownership of developing, updating and improving procedures and processes; she emphasises the importance of acquiring a strong theoretical and applied knowledge of Document Control. She urges Bob to improve his Excel skills, so that he can take charge of all modifications and improvements of Excel tools like registers or templates. Jane advises that Bob learn his rules, procedures and processes, that he know them like the back of his hand and that he take on the role of advisor and expert in all Document Control matters. Also, Jane tells Bob to learn and to understand all the wider processes in which he takes part, as a Document Controller, and to ask questions to develop a robust understanding.


This is the secret to this whole situation: respect and recognition are earnt. When the bosses, the interfaces and the users of a Document Controller feel that they cannot rely on him/her/them, when they feel that they have to do work that should be done by the Document Controller, and when they can see that the Document Controller does not understand what he/she/they is (are) doing – would you blame them for not recognising the Document Controller as a professional?


Share this!

Write a comment

Comments: 2
  • #1

    Bernardo Nzinga (Friday, 18 August 2023 22:41)

    I am getting recently on this position of DC , I would like to learn more , about DC ... I want to improve my skills on this role.

  • #2

    Lorie Howells (Sunday, 27 August 2023 20:42)

    This is very spot on article!

    If you don’t establish your Document Control processes and procedures from the beginning, establishing trust with internal coworkers and external clients no one will understand the importance of your Document Controller role. �