The process of quality management is guided by documents such as manuals, guidelines, policies, work-aids, procedures, forms, and templates. All stakeholders, whether employees, management, or the supply chain agents, strive to maintain quality by adhering to the standards, specifications or instructions in such documents. However, these documents are far from being static. These are living documents that once generated, grow, get modified continually, are shared, retracted, and retired. With multiple authorities controlling the information in a document and deciding who all it is shared with, there is enormous scope for errors and miscommunication. That is why, Document Control solution is considered one of the core solutions in any quality management software suite.
Good documentation means good business
All businesses of all sizes, whether knowingly or unknowingly, engage in Document Control. However, the complexity of this process varies. Imagine a manufacturing plant with hundreds of workers, scores of processes, a variety of material and parts, and of course, the associated supply chain. For such an organization to remain compliant, all employees and the extended supply chain must have access to the latest information in the form of policies, procedures, work instructions, work aids, forms, and templates. Every time a document is updated, all stakeholders must be made aware of the changes. Evidently, the potential for errors and miscommunication is staggering!
Unsurprisingly, Document Control remains at the top of the quality management processes that have been automated by organizations, as per LNS Research. The benefits of automated Document Control are many, including improvement in collaboration, version control, efficiency, security and knowledge management. In addition, a Document Control solution can also reduce the cost of document control and archiving, and help stakeholders avoid miscommunications. A good Document Control solution should also offer in-built regulatory compliance.
Why Document Control is integral to any EQMS
While Document Control is clearly the top-most concern for companies chasing quality targets, they differ in their choice of tool based on their requirements and perceptions. Thus, while some companies experiment with cloud storage such as Dropbox, Google Drive or One Drive, others use local servers and databases, or off the shelf Document Control solutions. Opting for an integrated Enterprise Quality Management Solution (EQMS) that offers Document Control as one of the solutions, features at the higher end of any organization’s maturity cycle. Let’s explore why.
Document Control solution, when offered as a part of an EQMS, features many more functionalities that give quality managers greater control over documents. These functionalities include version control, role based access, and document workflow capabilities such as approvals, escalations, edits, delivery etc. Some solutions also offer security and automation as a part of compliance for highly regulated industries such as life sciences, aerospace and defense, nuclear, etc.
In fact, some EQMS providers use Document Control as the core functionality to which every other solution is interconnected. It provides organizations with the benchmark against which they must assess and align their quality management initiatives. For instance, a Nonconformance can be identified only if ‘conformance’ is defined through a ‘policy’ document. A CAPA ‘report’ would feature in an Audit. Employees must be trained using ‘manuals’. Suppliers must share product specification in a particular ‘form’. Equipment must be assessed using a ‘checklist’. Clearly, at the heart of all these functionalities are documents – being created, shared, updated, revised, referred to, and archived. That is why, an EQMS with an efficient Document Control solution at its core, can simplify quality management and compliance for even highly regulated industries.
How cloud technology enhances Document Control
The highest level of efficiency in Document Control can be claimed by none other than cloud based EQMS. Such solutions not only offer the aforementioned benefits of an integrated quality management system with Document Control at the core, they also offer immense benefits in terms of cost, scalability, and security. ComplianceQuest, for instance, is built and run on Salesforce.com, a platform trusted by over 4 million businesses worldwide. A highly integrated solution that works with all legacy ERP solutions, it not only simplifies Document Control, but enables businesses to scale up and down easily, enjoy enterprise level security, and cut cost.
If you are seeking ways to improve quality processes in your organization, begin with Document Control. Find a solution that doesn’t add to the complexities and helps you stay compliant to various regulations. Do consider cloud over on premise solutions. It saves you money, time and resources while giving you better accessibility and mobility. You’ll observe that with an efficient Document Control solution, your quality management initiatives will become much more effective.