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Document control has always been an important aspect of effectively running an organisation. An electronic document control system is an essential component in moving your operational processes to the digital sphere.

When documents change it is important to consider the ripple effect this will cause across the business. What impact will changes have on products, audit processes, the equipment used, staff training and competency requirements? You also need to consider how these changes will be communicated to the necessary personnel.

These critical issues must be assessed before and after implementing a document control system. They need to be an integral part to your document management strategy and the system used to manage and control the document lifecycle must be fit for purpose.

Document control and change

Managing change can be complex and difficult- which is where an electronic document system comes into its own. It is vital that there is one point of reference for all aspects of document management, delivering a single version of the truth rather than scattered pieces of information.

This is where paper-based systems fall down, not having that one centralised system where all documents are up to date and easily accessible. Information is often stored in multiple locations across different sites, making it challenging to access the correct information as and when you need it.

There is also the added risk of not being able to properly control changes to information, in turn increasing the likelihood of critical documents holding outdated information. Not to mention, it becomes an incredibly time-consuming task to do it manually.

Minimising risk and maximising performance

Organisations need to ensure they minimise these risks as much as they can, otherwise this will negatively impact their ability to meet regulatory compliance requirements. With standards, such as ISO 9001:2015, evolving to introduce a more risk-based thinking to quality management, organisations should perhaps now be looking to implement this type of approach. Not only will this assure better compliance, but it will improve the overall performance of the business by identifying areas of improvement and setting goals to meet them.

An electronic quality management system (eQMS) can make document control more efficient and minimise risk as it integrates key processes within a single system. With an eQMS, any changes or revisions to documents can be implemented in a secure and controlled environment with subsequent ‘ripple effects’ being pre-empted, planned and managed effectively.  

Audit trails, related documents, version control, workflows and knowledge management within an eQMS allows for effective document lifecycle management and gives stakeholders confidence in consistent compliance to regulations and standards.

Ideagen's Q-Pulse QMS, delivers confidence for customers worldwide in maintaining effective document control. Find out more about how it can help implement and manage an electronic document control system.

Written by

Alexander Pavlović

Alex produces targeted content to help Ideagen’s readers and customers navigate the complex world of quality, governance, risk and compliance.

Alex has worked with brands such as BT, Sodexo and Unilever and is passionate about helping businesses build a cohesive, collaborative culture of quality.