Traceability, integrity, compliance/gatekeeping, consistency, quality, and safety have been deemed the 6 values of document control (via the doc control specialists at Consepsys) and essentially explain why document control matters. At Ascertra, we wholeheartedly agree with this list.
Our many years of collaborating with highly effective project doc control teams have helped guide our development of solutions that support these exact values. To better illustrate this point, let’s look at a value-by-value breakdown and how the Proarc EDMS helps doc controllers support these values when managing critical documents and information on engineering and construction projects through to operations.
The Value of Document Control on Projects
Before diving in, it’s important to recognize the value the discipline of document control, and its diligent practitioners, bring to projects and teams managing complex assets. Documents, often in the form of engineering documents, and information related to documents are essential components to successfully managing projects from design and construction to managing the asset built during operations. This critical information is created, viewed, assessed, edited, marked up, approved, questioned, and shared by numerous multi-discipline stakeholders throughout the lengthy duration of projects and operations. The life cycle of a project document can be unwieldy, and each new revision & related transaction must be managed appropriately. Inaccurate, late, unfit, or unavailable document deliverables can put an entire project at risk of failure. Missing documentation can mean delays in work progress or asset handover or, even worse, working from the wrong or unofficial versions of documents which can result in catastrophic errors that put the project, the asset, and its team at a serious safety risk.
To address this risk, projects mandate document control practices be strictly followed by all stakeholders participating in their projects. Document control practices include organizing documents, data, and information in a consistent, standardized, and controlled manner. Document control also ensures all who need to consume the documentation receive timely notifications, know where to find it, and can trust that it is accurate. The team members who ensure this process occurs and standards are upheld are the document controllers. Doc controllers help define, maintain, and support the entire project team with these practices throughout the chaos of a complex major project. Through their diligence and attention, they ensure documentation is properly managed, up to quality standards, and easily available to all stakeholders at every point within a project. It’s a pretty big deal!
The 6 Document Control Values
Each time a doc controller performs tasks to uphold the discipline of document control for their team, they aim to support six critical values. As mentioned above, these 6 values include:
- Compliance & Gatekeeping
Each value has a different purpose, and all six combined enable a process that provides trustworthy project documentation. Let’s look at each value definition from Consepsys and then see how the Proarc EDMS helps support these values via a web-based tool designed to support document control on large projects and asset operations.
Definition: "The very reason why Document Control emerged as a separate discipline from Engineering was to ensure that people on site (construction, operations) could work safely, with up-to-date, checked, formally reviewed, and approved documents.
An example whereby document control can directly affect safety: certain practices, such as issuing ‘advance copies’, working copies, non-approved documents, incorrect or obsolete revisions of documents can put lives at risk on site."
Proarc Support: When the Proarc document control solution is rolled out to a project team, it provides many features that help to drive safety on projects. Some of those safety-driving features include:
- A single location where all documentation is controlled and accessed by all project members and approved stakeholders
- Automated workflows use responsibility matrices to ensure documents are reviewed and approved by qualified team members and that procedures are followed before moving documentation through each stage gate
- Automated processes help ensure accurate “as-builts” and other project content at handover
- Extensive and validated document metadata helps to ensure documents are automatically stored in the correct locations
All of these points combined, the system helps to ensure that the right team members get the right information at the right time, and by ensuring these happen appropriately according to agreed-upon practices, related safety risks can be significantly reduced.
Definition: "Document Control is part of the Quality Management System. Document control must follow a consistent and documented process, in order to obtain a consistent product (in our case, the document control service).
This explains the need for documented procedures, guidelines, processes, and rules, without which the quality of the delivered service often varies, to the detriment of customers (project team, engineers, client, partners, etc)."
Proarc Support: Proarc document control software helps drive quality related to document deliverables and project information management by way of:
- Automated workflows that help govern the consistent application of document control policies and processes across business units, projects, and stakeholders and provides the added flexibility to authorize exceptions where needed
- Information validation that helps ensure stakeholders provide required and quality information with documentation rules can be set to validate metadata in compliance with rules for object numbering, number of records, value length and format, value patterns, out-of-sequence, duplicate values, file names and file sizes, dates in relation to current/schedule, etc.
- Integrity checking, version control, and approval workflows also help to ensure quality is upheld according to quality standards across the entire project and all stakeholders
3. Traceability & Auditability
Definition: "Strict revision control and modification control ensures that all modifications are traceable and auditable.
Deliveries of incoming or outgoing documents must be formalized and traced (eg with transmittal sheets). Registers must be kept up to date with the correct information: MDRs, Transmittal Registers, etc.
Ultimately this helps companies protect their interests: in case of an investigation or an audit, they are able to provide evidence of their work and processes."
Proarc Support: Proarc offers traceability and auditability as part of its core functionality. Specifically, Proarc EDMS offers:
- Revision control - The Proarc EDMS maintains a revision history for every Document Profile. By default, the Document Profile displays the current revision, but users can select the historical revisions to see details including unique revision-level metadata and files
- Audit Trail – In Proarc, all document history related to the management and processing of documents is recorded and referenced within the system. Each audit record includes data revisions, event actions, performers, and dates/times. In addition, each Proarc workflow records all events in the workflow audit history. This includes the activity details, performer, date/time, and disposition.
- Audit trails can be accessed to expedite governance reporting and/or litigation preparation
- Document markups are saved as individual layers attributed to the author of the markup instead of editing the original document itself – this allows for the distinction of markups by authors at all times.
Definition: "A document must not be issued, published, or distributed if it is not fit for use. For example, it must be legible and no pages or attachments must be missing. Identification information (e.g., document number, title, revision index, revision date, etc.) must be consistent, and correct and it must comply with internal rules (e.g., Document Control procedure) and with external rules (e.g., Clients’ requirements or contracts). Issuing or distributing a document that is not fit for use can lead to serious consequences such as safety incidents, legal implications, or financial fallouts."
Proarc Support: To some degree, each function of the Proarc EDMS has been designed to uphold integrity for document control. Proarc is constantly applying validation rules to ensure the utmost integrity of the documentation managed within it. These validation features assist document control users in determining the acceptability of the documents without great manual effort. In addition, workflows automate processes and ensure project stakeholders and team members adhere to the project document rules defined for the project, which in turn helps to maintain the integrity of all project documentation contained within the system.
5. Compliance & Gatekeeping
Definition: "Documents must go through proper processes prior to being issued: quality checks, formal reviews and comments, approvals for issuance, registration, modification, and revision control. Documents with problems must not be allowed through review gates. Compliance with company rules and procedures must be upheld, and documents must be processed in a controlled manner."
Proarc Support: Once again, workflows and validation rules within Proarc support doc control compliance and gatekeeping. Workflows are designed to automate best practice processes for document control. They define a sequence of activities and performers who are assigned the work within the process, as well as when and how they must complete each transaction. These workflows can be driven by a pre-determined responsibility assignment matrix, also known as RACI, which enables the system to automatically assign work items based on a project’s authorization policies. These workflows ensure documents get to the right gates and then are validated to ensure they have the appropriate content to pass through the gate if the practitioner deems it is time to do so.
Definition: "Consistency is achieved through systematic compliance with procedures, guidelines, processes, and rules.
Document controllers must also enforce the use of company templates, which are created and used for four purposes:
- To form a visual identity for the company;
- To ensure that key metadata or fields are filled out (e.g., author, date, revision number, etc.);
- To save time for documents authors;
- To establish consistency in the appearance of documents.
It is part of the document controller’s role to maintain consistency and therefore, indirectly, to protect the company’s reputation, interests, and expenditure."
Proarc Support: The entire premise of the Proarc EDMS is to help projects consistently apply document control processes and ensure all team members comply – with the processes themselves, as well as with regard to the information they submit during processing. All processes are set up via templates – these templates can include the best practice versions that are configurable in Proarc, or they can be uniquely defined by the requirements of the project. Either way, all processes defined within the system are set to ensure your processes and data are consistently applied across the project (or multiple projects). Through workflow automation and templates supported by Proarc, projects can achieve doc control consistency via:
- Enforced corporate standards - without sacrificing individual project requirements
- Enforced process consistency across multiple projects for standardized reporting
- Govern the consistent application of policies and practices to business units and projects, with the flexibility to authorize exceptions where needed
- Keep all team members aligned to best practices & processes
Traceability, integrity, compliance/gatekeeping, consistency, quality, and safety – all values that drive the overall effectiveness of a document control program and help to demonstrate why document control is so important. Ensuring these values are upheld within your document practices will help reduce the risk associated with managing documents and processes on major projects and ultimately helps projects complete successfully and then be safely managed during operations. Proarc makes supporting these values efficient and easy for document control teams and project members, including those inside the organization and external participants.
Unlike generic document control and collaboration systems, the Proarc engineering document management system is designed with an emphasis on managing complex engineering documents for projects and operations and has 20 years of enhancements driven by the world’s most complex projects built right into it. To learn more about how Proarc can help your team efficiently manage your project information and uphold the 6 critical values of document control throughout your entire project and during operations, visit our solutions page: Proarc Engineering Document Management System (EDMS)
Acknowledgment: All document control values were originally written by the doc control experts at Consepsys. See the original article, TICCQS: The Document Control Values. All comments on supporting the document control values via a Proarc solution are provided by Ascertra.
Original Post: Dec 2019