Document control procedures do not have to be complex. In fact, complexity adds to the probability that the document will not be adequately referenced. That said, managing information is one of the most important processes in any organization. The reliance on electronic data correspondence increases the need to continuously update data control and storage procedures. Failure to maintain adequate document control procedures can result in huge financial risks. Thankfully, improvements in document control technology and software applications have created a new world of best practices.
Identify Critical Processes
Assign a team of cross-functional managers to identify your most critical processes related to data and information flow. Track how the data (email, customer surveys, IRS form, etc.) flows from your customer to your database files. Compare each data-flow process and identify common or redundant tasks. Map out all information processes, ranging from email to corporate compliance, using a basic flow chart.
Create Procedures Manual
Procedures--for both software and paper--must define how documents are approved before and after the update. They should also detail how you update and reapprove documents. Address how the system will identify changes, i.e. by issue date or font changes. Be sure to outline the process for deciding document obsolescence. Understand how to prevent "obsolete" documents from being used.
Ensure documents are available to the right people when they need them. If you are converting to a virtual system, be sure to carefully document how the original document will be stored, if at all. Finally, have a backup solution. If changing to an automated system, use a pilot roll out strategy. After full conversion, wait three months before destroying or filing paper documents.
Working as a full-time freelance writer/editor for the past two years, Bradley James Bryant has over 1500 publications on eHow, LIVESTRONG.com and other sites. She has worked for JPMorganChase, SunTrust Investment Bank, Intel Corporation and Harvard University. Bryant has a Master of Business Administration with a concentration in finance from Florida A&M University.