Document Control Made Easy

The control of important documents in today’s workplace continues to be a struggle despite the incorporation of the ISO 9001:2000 requirements. To clarify document control, it can be described as ensuring that current documents are first approved by qualified personnel and then distributed to the areas or places where they are actually used and that old or redundant information is then removed. What does the ISO 9001:2000 have to say about document control? Well, the very first sentence of the section labeled 4.2.3 states that “All documents required by the quality management system shall be controlled.” If this is clearly laid out by the ISO standards why does it continue to be a struggle for some businesses? Many business professionals find themselves asking “Does this document need to be controlled?” And the answer is yes if it meets the specific criteria of involving product requirements, controlling processes, provide verification or the testing of products, collect data for decision-making, or relate to any requirement of the ISO 9001:2000.

A Business Situation involving Document Control

The training department of a large manufacturing company creates several video recordings describing and illustrating processes of particular work lines within the company. The videos range from die casting to punch press to assembly. Each video is labeled appropriately and has been viewed by the proper competent management staff and has been approved to be used with the training programs for both new hires and even existing employees. Since these video recordings involve both process control as well as involve the production of products these recordings must be held to the stipulations of document control. Essentially it all really depends upon the information contained within the document and whether it is pertinent to specific process, products, etc. as mentioned above.

Some Tips to help with Document Control

One of first tips to help with document control is basically to have fewer documents. This may sound sort of funny, however, the truth is that having tons of controlled documents makes it harder and more time-consuming to make sure all are controlled to the standards that they need to be. A way to cut down on the number of controlled documents would be to make them multi-purpose when able. If some documents involve multiple situations or departments, why make many documents specific to each area if they are all going to be extremely similar? Instead make it lean and create one set for all areas to utilize. Also, get rid of outdated materials if documents contain certain processes or product specifications that are no longer in use. Not only are these documents not current but also confusing to others who may not know the current procedures or product specifications in place. Next, employing a layering strategy to controlled documents will also help. What do we mean by layered? This basically means to organize by structure type such as whether the document is related to structure, procedures, work instruction to complete a specific job or task, or records, if it contains information that helps to demonstrate compliance.

Just implementing these few tactics can really help with document control while also making it easier to manage the documents that are currently being controlled.

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