The four worst document control problems
If your company has developed flawless document control systems, consider yourself among the elite. For the rest, there is always room for improvement, especially when it comes to a critical compliance requirement. During your time as a quality management professional, you undoubtedly have come across the top four document control problems.
1. Manual, paper-based systems
If you have been working in quality management since its earliest days, you probably do not have fond memories of manual, paper-based quality systems. Some of you may not have fond memories of last week’s document control mishaps, let alone blunders from the last few decades. Furthermore, some of you may be taking a break at this very moment to read the EQMS Blog, procrastinating while today’s document control pains wait your solutions.
Your company may have an entire room holding stacks of paperwork, which may make great tinder one day, but nonetheless wastes space and causes maintenance issues. Give enterprise quality management software a try before you take a match to your document storage room because streamlined organization alone is worth the effort.
2. Accountability (or lack thereof)
When document control spirals out of control, it is only natural to try to find out what went haywire. After all, you are a dedicated quality professional. The more you drill down to the root cause the less responsibility your colleagues tend to claim. So who owns the error?
As the old adage states, “For every finger you point at someone else, there are three pointing back at you.” Do not settle for poor accountability. Quality is a culture, and, to enable successful outcomes, you need your colleagues’ commitment to document control software.
3. Tracking revisions
Similar to accountability, tracking revisions to compliance documentation can be a mess as well. But implementing new technology alone may not solve the problem. You may inadvertently lock in the very inefficiencies you are trying to eliminate if you neglect revision history and change requests.
Inspired by ISO 9001, industry-specific compliance standards, such as AS 9100 and FDA regulations, explicitly state that you must be able to show revisions to quality documentation. If you have recently implemented cloud-based document control software, do not assume that the tracking revisions issue is resolved. The ease with which you can upload and revise documentation may make tracking revisions worse, not better.
Moreover, quick and easy access to documentation can turn into a security nightmare. Without sound document controls in place, it is far too easy for multiple copies of the same document to exist in multiple places. If you think your current document control system is without flaws and security holes, think again.
For instance, you may copy a PDF from your company’s document cloud, revise it, upload it, and go about your day. But this relatively simple workflow creates two instances of the same document, accidentally circumventing security. If you use your own laptop, you may be exposing your company’s most sensitive unencrypted data the very moment you connect to another network, even your home network.
Certainly, there are more ways document control can be a pain. Read the IQS E-book on documentation management for a deep dive into what you can do about document control with EQMS.