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        SharePoint or Proarc Document Control Software?

        Microsoft SharePoint or Proarc document control software? Over the years, we’ve often been asked to compare Proarc EDMS against Microsoft (MS) SharePoint to support document control. Although both can provide effective tools for the right situation, the following points outline why companies choose Proarc over SharePoint to support their document control process.

        Why Choose Proarc Document Control Over SharePoint?

        When it comes to choosing document control software, Proarc EDMS offers several benefits over SharePoint, especially where there is high risk and impact when documents and work processes are not strictly controlled by information management standards. Examples of environments requiring strict adherence to information management standards and advanced project control solutions include industries such as energy production and major infrastructure development and disciplines such as engineering and construction.

        Choosing Proarc EDMS over SharePoint essentially ends up coming down to how critical information management compliance and risk in project execution and asset operations is to an organization.


        9 reasons customers choose Proarc EDMS over SharePoint to support their critical document control processes:


        1. Commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) document control software
        2. Bulk processing & validation of large information sets
        3. Transmittals automation and tracking
        4. Best-in-class revision control
        5. Classification-based data models, not rigid folder structures
        6. Integration with common project & engineering information systems
        7. Central governance of information management policies
        8.  Purpose-built by industry experts partnered with global customers
        9.  Ongoing document control investment


        1. Commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) document control software

        Proarc is an enterprise-grade, commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) document control software solution. Unlike SharePoint, Proarc comes pre-configured with work processes proven to manage the types of information common to major capital projects and asset operations, across the information lifecycle. Metadata templates, numbering masks, classification codes and values, data validation rules, review workflows, transmittals, dashboards, and reports are just a few examples of built-in features.

        Being a COTS software solution, Proarc customers benefit from extremely fast time to value and have confidence in a reliable, fully tested, and proven document control solution.

        In contrast, SharePoint is a platform with generic document management features and a default configuration that attempts to serve all industries and disciplines. This means you will spend weeks or months on design, configuration, and customization—usually with a highly skilled development resource or third-party solution provider—before you can achieve results for your projects and asset operations. 


        2. Bulk processing & validation of large information sets

        The practice of document control in major projects demands a high degree of consistency when processing vast volumes of documents and data each day, where a single supplier may submit hundreds of documents in a single transaction. Not just asset information that describes physical and functional aspects of the project, such as engineering drawings, but execution information that describes commercial and compliance aspects of the project, such as contracts and correspondence. Each document represents risk if misplaced, delayed, or incorrectly classified.

        Proarc provides tools to support efficiency and accuracy in document control for incoming and outgoing information that is not matched in SharePoint. These include mass import, mass export, mass update, mass allocation of document numbers, automated data validation, automated transmittal generation, and more.


        3. Transmittals automation and tracking

        Proarc document control software has pre-configured features for managing document transmittals, the industry standard for recording the transfer of official project documents from one party to another. Transmittals provide critical evidence of document issuance and receipt so organizations can ensure all parties have correct information and are equipped to defend disputes or claims with other parties.

        SharePoint does not provide transmittal management as a standard feature. SharePoint handles each document exchange as a file download and does not record critical transaction details such as document revision, reason for issue, expected return date, and so on.

        Proarc automates the generation of transmittals, transmittal coversheets, compressed ZIP files, dispatch to email, workflow, and secure file-sharing areas.


        4. Best-in-class revision control, not just file versions

        A SharePoint document is equivalent to a file (such as a Microsoft Excel XLSX workbook). SharePoint describes each file with a basic set of attributes and records a discrete version each time a file changes.

        A Proarc document is a profile, that is, an object that is richly described with metadata that contains revisions. Proarc records a revision to a document profile each time a culminating event occurs (such as an approval) so that it can be used for official purposes (such as sending to a client). Within revisions, Proarc manages files and file versions. A revision can contain one or more files (such as a contract with several exhibits), and Proarc records a discrete version each time a file changes. 


        5. A central source of truth, not copies in a folder structure

        SharePoint and many other document management systems require you to store documents in a folder hierarchy, like a Microsoft Windows file system.  This has many limitations, but most notably encourages users to copy documents into multiple folders as needed for different projects, departments, clients, etc. Document copies represent significant risk due to outdated or incorrect information.

        Document controllers are responsible for ensuring all parties have access to official, validated document revisions from a central source of truth. Proarc provides a repository model where official documents and revisions are referenced in one location, not copied to many folder locations. Proarc uses detailed classifications, descriptive metadata, and several search tools to easily find the correct documents.


        6. Integration with common project & engineering information systems 

        Proarc document control software integrates with various engineering and project management software systems commonly used in the industry, such as computer-aided design (CAD), project controls, planning, and scheduling. This seamless integration streamlines document control processes and improves productivity for project teams.

        Ascertra experts are intimately familiar with these systems and understand the data flows and work processes they share. Proarc templates are configured to support the data types and standards used by other project systems. Tools such as REST APIs, data exchange utilities, pre-built connectors, and reusable code allow us to achieve integration results quickly.

        SharePoint provides generic integration APIs and import/export features not tailored to integration with project and engineering information systems.


        7. Central governance of information management policies

        A common story from IT professionals describes the uncontrolled creation of SharePoint sites that do not comply with the organization’s information management policies. This puts organizations at a disadvantage in competitive industries where customer service and quality must be consistently excellent.

        Proarc is a highly configurable system that lets companies define each of the standards and policies they have developed based on decades of institutional knowledge. Proarc enforces compliance to these standards through data validation, workflows, RACI matrices, and other features.


        8. Purpose-built by industry experts partnered with global customers

        Proarc EDMS is built upon years of experience working on industrial construction projects and asset operations in industries such as infrastructure, renewable energy, oil & gas, and mining. Proarc has been tested and proven on the world’s largest most complex projects, and on smaller to medium-sized projects where information management is a critical success factor.

        Proarc capabilities are tailored to support proven industry best practices and to meet the unique demands of controlling engineering documents, drawings, specifications, and project documentation in strictly regulated environments. The experience and knowledge gained over many years of deploying successful document control software are also leveraged during each solution implementation.

        In contrast, by building an in-house document control system using SharePoint, it will be impossible to replicate the level of curated, in-depth industry experience that is built into Proarc.  


        9. Ongoing document control software investment 

        Proarc customers benefit from ongoing product investment and innovation that will directly benefit their business users immediately every time a new Proarc version is released. This ongoing investment ensures Proarc users can rely on their document control solution into the future and be confident that their solution is continually evolving with their needs.

        In terms of SharePoint, Microsoft only invests in adding features to the platform, not the business logic that has been developed for an in-house developed SharePoint document control solution. Evolving this type of document control solution will require significant time and budget by the company that owns it and will lack the expertise Ascertra leverages to develop Proarc. 


        In summary, Proarc EDMS offers several benefits over SharePoint, particularly for industries with specialized document control requirements, such as engineering and construction. It provides purpose-built COTS document control software built on years of customer collaboration and industry research, advanced document control features, transmittal management capabilities, integration with engineering software, and, scalability, performance, and reliability tailored to the needs of project teams and organizations.

        One final message to consider when considering SharePoint or Proarc for your document control software… 


        “The IT department says we own SharePoint so we should use it”

        Over the years, we’ve worked with companies who tried using SharePoint for their document control solution but ran into many challenges. Here is a story from one of them:

        “We implemented a global management system for policies, procedures, governing documents, standard documents etc. We went for the “simplest” solution, SharePoint. We struggle a lot, especially with metadata. Search is not accurate. Changes in structure creates issues. Revision and versioning create issues, e.g. you can’t have a generic link to the latest approved revision of a document.”


        Proarc Document Control Software

        To learn more about the document control software projects have been relying on for decades around the world, go to Proarc EDMS

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