Document Control got you down? Had me down. Seems every time we updated a marketing document, such as a price sheet for example, someone failed to get the message. Or maybe they did, but forgot to get rid of their inventory of old price sheets. So a month or so later when I grabbed my notepad to do a spot check of procedures, I would find an out of date document lying around.
Of course, I am not without blame myself. Months (who am I kidding: days) later, I couldn't even remember details of procedures I wrote myself. Then, as we grew, things not only got more complicated, but new employees came on board, who needed to learn all those things the rest of the staff took for granted. The things some people call on the job experience.
I am not saying we weren't organized. Not by any stretch of the imagination. We had areas of our network set aside for storing these documents, and people generally knew where to find them, although they sometimes needed helpful reminders. But frankly, that was inefficient, especially if a client is on the line waiting for a response.
Then we started using a simple Document Control module included (at no extra cost) in our SPC-PC IV Explorer software. Using its Document Control features, our staff has all the current marketing information at their fingertips. The Document window can restrict the view to a selected document type so they are easier to find. If you cannot remember what document type the document is, you can search by document title (or portion of title), or any other related field such as department, or area of the ISO 9000 standard the document relates to. You can also view the historical records of the document (to see what changes were made, when, and by whose approval).
The document revision process is entirely managed by the software. The key is that our operators will have access to only the active version of the document, and the document is readily available to them from the main menu bar when they're reviewing a chart that is related to the document.
And any document type can be controlled: word processing documents, spreadsheets, CAD drawings, flowcharts, etc. from any vendor. Of course, users may need an installed copy of the particular application to open a given document. But you can also take advantage of the fact that many desktop applications allow you to store their files in other formats. For example, MS Word and Excel documents can be stored in html format, so all you need is an Internet browser to open the document. CAD drawings can be saved as bitmaps, or even GIF files, opened in a browser. I hear Microsoft still provides a browser with every copy of Windows, just for your convenience, no other reason.
Life is indeed getting simpler as a result of document management. Now if I could just remember where I put my notepad...
Learn more about the Quality Management tools for process excellence in The Handbook for Quality Management (2013, McGraw-Hill) by Paul Keller and Thomas Pyzdek or their online Quality Management Study Guide.