The Challenge of Document Control

By: Auditor Training Online | Posted 21 May 2019

Document Control – it’s something I always say, while it is in the Standards and is important, it can be challenging to implement and maintain.  Just because it’s in the Standard doesn’t mean it’s easy!

I’ve recently been dealing with a company (as a customer) which requires me to either read (for information), print for reference or have completed by 3rd parties in hard copy, as well as electronically online or through a link.

I must say that it’s been an interesting and frustrating experience.

The first indication that there was an issue was when I started twitching uncontrollably as I was getting more aggravated and confused by reading multiple Information packs provided by the company which had differing information or contradicting information.

It also had specifics, like names of accommodation and places which I knew were not relevant to the destination I was heading to.  Obviously, a quick copy and paste that had gone horribly wrong.

Then came another email!  Which had the same documents I received when I paid my deposit, but now they’d changed - AGAIN!  The only way I knew that these documents with the same title were different was that now there was a pretty header on them which I knew wasn’t on my original documents.  But what else had changed?  Did I have to now fill in the new forms or was the content still the same?  I didn’t know?  There was no revision or version number or even a date that I could use to reference as the most current?

This frustrating process highlighted to me how important document control really is and how a lot of organisations don’t do it well or at all, let alone understand the consequences. 

The documents had been neatly typed up and were being sent out in word format, which really should have been in a more secure format like pdf (if you set the security correctly of course).  Due to some formatting issue or maybe a difference in operating systems when they were created, the information was not clear with only partial content being legible. 

The document looked like this pretty much throughout:

As you can see, I can still ‘sort of’ read this but this is pretty important information to get right if they are wanting to ensure the payment process is as smooth as possible.

So why does this happen?

I truly believe this is simply through a lack of understanding of how important document control is to an organisation.  And really, once you have set up a good, solid process and templates it becomes so much easier to manage.  This then ensures that staff are providing the correct and most current information to customers and most importantly the customer feels confident with the information they are being provided and also confident with the service that the company is providing.  It still all comes back to the customer experience, even if it is ‘boring old document control’!

A little secret – I love document control 😊