Sunday, July 17, 2016

Document Control Procedures and Techniques (Setting a Data Control System)


Documents are a set of information about a project or a situation of the project recorded in drawings, charts, photographs, written or legal official papers stored as printed or in a computer. These documents are considered to be the history of the project or the organization. The term Data Management is also termed as Documents ManagementDocuments Control, Digital Asset Management, Content Management, Enterprise Content Management, Document Imaging,  and Records Management.

Who should read this

Most of us have experienced the situation; when whole of the office was searching for "that file" which was supposed to be somewhere with you and you were unable to dig it out of all the stuff in your computer. Or may be one of the officer has quit, been fired, retired or transferred someone else has to continue his job. Most of the times this new person is not able to figure out where is the data, information, documents located by the previous person. Many times this results in missing data or losing the information or the tasks carried out by that person.
Unfortunately, most organizations don’t pay serious attention for documents, drawings and data management until they really need “that file” and can’t locate it. Failing to provide the required documents on time may cause fines, the loss of business, or damage to an organization's reputation. Technical data management is essential for executions within every organization and is a vital function for the successful management of any office.


The aim of  setting standards for documents and data management is just one thing:

"The easiest and quickest access to the record of information in its original and legally official form"

As in this era all of us are actually working for making things easier in error free (hopefully) situation.


There are a number of software available for document control system. Some are free and some are paid. But it is strongly recommended whatever software or procedure that you adopt it must be simple and useable by all the users and most importantly, durable. Complicated procedures and software for document control must be avoided. Some of the best practices are discussed as below;


The "Start from scratch" is usual method for initializing the process of making a document. This is for the first time you are going to document a letter/chart or a drawing, but for professional documentation use of one "Template file" is recommended. For instance, for text documents; a text file with all the necessary repetitive procedures like assignment of headers,  footers and page setups should be kept ready to use at any time. For drawings; a template drawing file with all the repetitive procedures like external references attached and drawing styles assigned, will help focus on the actual matter instead of making same drawing adjustments again and again in every drawing. Copy of this file is to be used for further production. This method of using template files will help reduce the time for preparation of documents or drawings. Moreover this technique will set a standard for your styles which will be updated for perfection as the time passes. This template file could be kept on desktop for easy quick approach to it.

Data Storing & Directory Hierarchy

Every piece of information is precious that is concerned to a situation or o1organization. So keeping this information stored and making available for all concerned parties is very essential. For electronic documents give logical name while saving a document in a place where it could easily be located by any of the user, or at least the location where someone can assume to look for to find such type of document. While drawing files should be numbered in accordance with a drawing numbering system or file naming conversion which should include activity/group code and numerical series etc. All the drawings and documents must be saved in a systematic directory hierarchy for the project drawings and supporting documents.

Master List of Documents

A master list or log of drawings and documents must be kept up-to-date to track the documentation process. This list should include all the information about the documents. Submittal number, Date of submittal, Date of approval, Status of the document, Name of author and all the necessary information must be included and updated in every phase of the document circulation between concerned parties.2


Any outgoing data, while making submitals or sending the document for review, it is recommended to keep this copy of document in a separate direc3tory, named as the concerned parities and  under sub-directories which will mention the year, month and day of document initiation, submission and approval. The directories will be named by date/time. This will be helpful for finding the contents of any outgoing data or document in its original form, which could later be used for making revisions and vise versa.


Always save document revisions under new names instead of overwriting the original (e.g., “My Document rev 1.doc”). Using "Save as" command instead of the "Save" command is a foolproof technique for saving each version of your document separately. Moreover, highlight the changes in the revised document for ease of reading the document and understanding the changes. Update history of the  revisions each time in the document log or master list of drawings/charts/ document. All the revisions must me identical.

Validation and Approval

When all of the concerned parties agree to the contents of a document, it is considered to be approved and ready for implementation. At this time be sure that the document being approved is the latest version of the document and all of the outdated copies must me collected as soon as possible. The approved documents must be periodically reviewed  to make sure that they are still workable.

Distribution & Availability

Approved documents needs to be distributed to all of the employees for implementation. Before distribution all of the previous versions of the document must be collected to avoid any misunderstanding. Electronically distributed documents must be protected to avoid changes or edits by unauthorized personal. The best practice is to convert the document to a read only format before sharing it with the network. Nowadays internet is common mean of sharing data and documentation. Electronic distribution of the documents is easier, faster and convenient as most of the people use the computers regularly. Reducing the use of paper saves trees.

Backup and Restore

Documents are considered to be the asset for a company, firm or a project which contains important information. Losing the data /document means gap of information. Therefore all the important documents and data must be backed up on regular basis.

Make it work for you

Once you have decided the procedures for controlling your documents, it is very important to make sure that all the users and especially the Documents Management/Control Team follows the procedures very strictly. Implementation is essential part for the success of an idea.

(Sorry for the wrong English, I am not that good in it)
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