One would quickly describe the position of Document Control as the “police” of an organization that maintains tight jurisdiction and follows strict guidelines to controlling all aspects of internal documentation.
So let’s define what Document Control really does in an and contract manufacturing world.
- Collects, maintains and distributes all documents necessary to define product configuration and control manufacturing processes that ensure conformance to customer requirements;
- Develops and maintains a comprehensive filing system and computer database for all documents to be retained;
- Ensures that all users have the latest document revision/s of appropriate documentation in a timely manner.
Document Control is essential to an efficient quality management and compliance system. In growing organizations, manual and paper-based solutions for managing policies and control documents takes too much time and is costly to operate, and potentially prone to mistakes. With an increasing amount of documents such as a quality manual, work instructions, quality manufacturing procedures, routers and drawings, an effective document control system provides a framework for efficient revision control of these important documents and creates a secure structure where access can be restricted and data protected.
Why is the retrieval of documentation is vital? Many companies without Document Controllers have issues with document retrieval. Can you imagine the amount of time everyone would waste searching for the latest revisions to documents daily? You would be surprised at the hours lost in productivity.
Document Control ensures you will always have the latest revision available. This prevents older versions from being used which could cause issues in manufacturing like more rework and higher scrap rates. The status of the information should not go unnoticed.
The approval time of the documentation can carry a heavy weight. Production cannot build without detailed drawings. Document Control has the ability to see the status of the info, report it, and have an action plan to push it through for use. This ensures the delivery of product will be on time and customers are happy.
Traceability is covered. Need to know how a document was approved, what department released it, and when? The flow of changes is constant and not everyone can remember when something was released or obsoleted. Document Control keeps a record of every individual change. This gives you the opportunity to look back and see all the changes that occurred previously.
Auditability and Consistency is also important. Internal audits happen all year, as well as external ones. A company should be able to provide the correct information to an auditor in a timely fashion. This cuts down on the lack of findings and further issues in the future which could hamper the business. Consistency across the board in document control is a must. This cuts down on confusion and helps everyone to be on the same page. Standardizing how documentation is created only makes things better for all and less complicated.
Document Control helps define the rules and security for accessing documents. An example of this would be who has access to what files, edit privileges, read only, etc. Most of these rules are implemented via network drives, QMS software. Document Control monitors all documentation and will ensure that all departments will have certain access or no access at all.
In conclusion, implementing Document Control is the way to protect your company, as well as ensuring accessibility, retrieval, auditability, consistency and security of all your documents.