Document management is the process of creating, storing and controlling documents that are related to the quality of the products being manufactured. Examples of these documents include quality manuals, procedures, work instructions and records of inspections, audits, and test results.  

Risks of Poor Document Management 

Proper document management is essential for ensuring the quality of products and maintaining compliance with industry standards and regulations.  

Poor document management can lead to a number of risks, including: 

  • Noncompliance with industry standards and regulations, which can result in fines, penalties or loss of certifications 
  • Inaccurate or incomplete information in documents, resulting in errors in manufacturing processes and resulting in poor quality products 
  • Difficulty in finding and accessing necessary documents, leading to delays and inefficiencies in the manufacturing process 
  • Inability to track and trace changes to documents, which can make it difficult to determine the cause of quality issues 

Document Management Best Practices 

There are a number of best practices and tools that can be used to manage documents effectively, including: 

  • Establishing a document control system that defines how documents are created, reviewed, approved and stored 
  • Implementing version control to keep track of changes to documents over time 
  • Ensuring that documents are easily accessible to those who need them 
  • Regularly reviewing and updating documents to ensure they remain accurate and current 
  • Conducting audits and inspections to ensure that the document management system is working effectively 

How Can Technology Aid Proper Document Management? 

A quality manager looking for a document management solution for their company would likely be looking for technology features such as: 

  1. Document version control: This allows for tracking and managing different versions of a document, so that the most current version is always being used. 
  1. Document approval workflow: This allows for a defined process for creating, reviewing and approving documents, ensuring that all documents are accurate and up-to-date. 
  1. Access control: This allows for controlling who can access, view and edit different documents, ensuring that only authorized personnel have access to sensitive information. 
  1. Document searching and retrieval: This allows for quickly finding and retrieving specific documents, making it easy for employees to access the information they need. 
  1. Audit trails: This allows for tracking changes to documents over time, making it easy to determine who made changes and when. 
  1. Electronic signature capabilities: This allows for documents to be signed electronically, making it easier to ensure that all necessary approvals are obtained. 
  1. Integration with other systems: This allows for the documents to be integrated with other systems, such as quality management software, enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems and manufacturing execution systems (MES). 
  1. Mobile access: This allows for access to the documents from mobile devices, making it easy for employees to access documents while working on the factory floor or in the field. 
  1. Cloud-based or on-premises: This allows for the choice of hosting the document management system in the cloud or on the company’s own servers. 
  1. Security: This ensures that the documents are stored and transmitted securely, protecting sensitive information from unauthorized access. 

Resources About Document Management Solutions: