Submitting documentation to vendors can be a painful and time-consuming process. Common issues faced by document controllers include the following:
Increased customization of documents required by customers.
It’s not uncommon for document controllers to have to provide customers with custom cover pages on all outgoing documents and produce submittals based on very specific templates provided by the customer. The more customized the work, the more time spent and the greater the chance of making mistakes in the process.
Difficulty keeping track of document revisions
If you use Microsoft Excel as many companies do to manage documentation, you know how easy it can be to make changes to the wrong document version, overwrite files or simply forget which is the most recent version of the document you’re working on. You can face further issues if you assume documents are being backed up and find out the hard way that they weren’t or that only certain documents were backed up and the ones you really need are missing.
Understanding where each document is in the process.
If you and your documentation colleagues make revisions to documents or you find yourself sending documents back and forth with your customers, it can be difficult to recall where each document is in the process. This is especially true if your colleagues aren’t as detail-oriented as you are or if you get a project dumped on you midstream and can’t make head or tails of the work that had been done previously. Automatic tracking and reviewing of submittals is also critical so that you can quickly figure out where each document is in the process at any given time and ensure no documents are missing or incorrect.
The time-consuming and often clerical nature of documentation work.
On the one hand, document control often involves a great deal of clerical work, collection of documents, management of revisions and other time-consuming but important tasks. On the other hand, this work requires skilled people who understand the intricacies, won’t let any documents slip through the cracks and are capable of pulling together customized databooks at the end of projects that meet customer requirements to reduce holdbacks. As previously discussed, the increasing customized nature of document control work further tests the skills of document controllers especially in the instance where they’re doing the work manually as many do.
Producing customized databooks or record books at the end of projects can often be the most time-consuming and frustrating aspect of document control. Plus, if getting paid is incumbent upon you producing customized documentation to your customer’s satisfaction, a holdback can occur as your customer waits for you to send them documents the way they want them done. Which might be very different from the way your other customers want them done. Often staff put this task off as long as possible simply because of its time-consuming and frustrating nature.