TICCQS: The Document Control Values
© Copyright Consepsys Limited
Document Control professionals often find themselves balancing between two somewhat opposite postures:
Finding a balance within this contradiction is not easy and it requires a profound understanding of those fundamental values.
Below are the universal Document Control values carried by Consepsys:
The very reason why Document Control emerged as a separate discipline from Engineering was to ensure that people on site (construction, operations) could work safely, with up-to-date, checked, formally reviewed and approved documents.
An example whereby Document Control can directly affect safety: certain practices, such as issuing ‘advance copies’, working copies, non-approved documents, incorrect or obsolete revisions of documents can put lives at risk on site.
Document Control is part of the Quality Management Systems. Document Control must follow a consistent and documented process, in order to obtain a consistent product (in our case, the Document Control service).
This explains the need for documented procedures, guidelines, processes and rules, without which the quality of the delivered service often varies, to the detriment of customers (project team, engineers, client, partners etc).
Traceability & Auditability
Strict revision control and modification control ensures that all modifications are traceable and auditable.
Deliveries of incoming or outgoing documents must be formalised and traced (eg with transmittal sheets). Registers must be kept up to date with correct information: MDRs, Transmittal Registers etc.
Ultimately this helps companies protect their interests: in case of an investigation or an audit, they are able to provide evidence of their work and processes.
A document must not be issued, published or distributed, if it is not fit for use. For example, it must be legible and no pages or attachments must be missing. Identification information (eg document number, title, revision index, revision date etc) must be consistent, correct and it must comply with internal rules (eg Document Control procedure) and with external rules (eg Clients’ requirements or contracts). Issuing or distributing a document that is not fit for use can lead to serious consequences such as safety incidents, legal implications, or financial fallouts.
Compliance & Gate-keeping
Documents must go through proper processes prior to being issued: quality checks, formal reviews and comments, approvals for issuance, registration, modification and revision control. Documents with problems must not be allowed through review gates. Compliance with Company rules and procedures must be upheld and documents must be processed in a controlled manner.
Consistency is achieved through systematic compliance with procedures, guidelines, processes and rules.
Document Controllers must also enforce the use of company templates, which are created and used for four purposes:
1. To form a visual identity for the company;
2. To ensure that key metadata or fields are filled out (eg author, date, revision number etc);
3. To save time for documents authors;
4. To establish consistency in the appearance of documents.
It is part of the Document Controller’s role to maintain consistency and therefore, indirectly, to protect the company’s reputation, interests and expenditure.