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Tips for Developing a Document Control Policy

written by: Sidharth Thakur • edited by: Linda Richter • updated: 12/26/2010

Need help for developing a document control policy … here’s an article containing informative tips on how to go about setting up a policy for document control.

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    Setting up a document control policy will help ensure that all the project-related documents are consistent, synchronized and, most important of all, fulfill the need of providing and storing the required information in a usable format. Irrespective of whether information is recorded and transmitted electronically or in physical form, having a clearly defined document control policy is a must. And to help you in your endeavor of designing a document control system, we have here some practical, usable tips.

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    Tips for Setting up a Document Control Policy


    Developing a Document Flow Diagram

    To begin with, the first thing needed for setting up a document control system is a document flow diagram that clearly depicts how various documents move within the team or the organization. The flow diagram must clearly show where a particular document is generated, how it moves from one hand to another, the people who interact at each stage of the document flow, the final destination of the document, and the place where the archived documents are stored. A document flow diagram can be created either using special flow charting software or simply in Excel.

    Creating the Documents

    The next step in the setting up of a document control policy is the creation of different documents. When creating documents some things to consider are – the purpose of the document, the exact information it must contain, how the information is to be verified and by whom, the educational qualifications and intellectual abilities of people who will be handling the document, the timeline for the flow of the document, and the levels at which the document will be endorsed.

    Standardizing the Documents

    The basic design as well as the formatting requirements must be similar for all documents. Things like where the logo must be placed, the fonts to be used, the terminology used, and the type of language to be used must reflect some commonness of style. The most important aspect of standardization is the use of standard words or terminology; for instance if ‘production team’ is used in place of ‘operations team’ or ‘invoice’ is used in place of ‘bill’ the end users can get confused.

    Setting up a Document Revision Schedule

    An equally important part of the document control policy is having a document revision schedule in place, since information needs keep changing and the documents may need to be modified accordingly. Whenever a new modified document replaces an older version, it must be ensured that all the older copies are collected and destroyed to avoid confusion.

    Storing and Archiving Documents

    The document control policy must provide clear-cut guidelines about where and how the documents will be archived after it has been used by the end-user--for instance, whether the documents need to be stored on the basis of their date or on the basis of their serial number.

    The ultimate goal of establishing a document control policy is to facilitate the documentation and transmission of information, with due regard to the end users of the information. That sums up why having a document control system is significant for the overall performance of the project.

    Image credit: FreeDigitalPhotos, JSCreationzs

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