While many businesses have begun to achieve greater efficiencies by becoming less reliant on paper-based processes, document digitization has brought new challenges; quality, security, and accessibility to the forefront. An effective document control process helps organizations wrestle with ensuring their documents are accurate, secure, and meet industry compliance standards while being easily available to those who need them.
What is document control?
Document control refers to the set of processes that ensure compliance across all your organization’s created documents. If document control governs the creation, storage, security, and organization of documents managed by a business, then document control software is the technological approach to maintaining document organization and quality, while mitigating the risk of human error associated with manual document management and preparation. When looking for how to best leverage technology to improve operations, document automation solutions are among the first to be invested in. Basic document control software capabilities are an inherent part of those solutions.
Why is document control important?
The creation and issue of documents are integral to numerous organizations; contracts, sales proposals, financial documentation, employment agreements, internal reports, and countless other documents are prepared and sent every day. Professionals, support staff, contract employees, customers, and clients all need access to this information in various ways. The document control system is the part of document automation software that brings order to chaos and secure access to those in need. The goal of document control procedures is to keep information organized, accessible, and protected so that organizations can remain efficient, productive, and compliant.
What are the benefits of investing in a document control system?
Document control processes inside of document automation solutions help manage:
Information access and document security
In our increasingly mobile world, you need a system that allows internal and external users to access information no matter where they are and what device they’re using. However, not everyone needs the same levels of information access. Document control procedures include the ability to set up roles and restrictions around who has access to what.
With better document access comes a need for better security. With stronger access controls, you can ensure that sensitive documents stay protected. Paper-based systems are inherently risky, with information easily lost, discarded carelessly, or leaked. Document control systems are an essential component of data security and meeting industry-level compliance standards and requirements.
For companies looking to achieve ISO 9001, one of the required processes is the Document Control Procedure, which specifies the controls needed to complete the accreditation. These include making sure there are specific controls around document approval, review, revision, version control, legibility, quality. and distribution.
Templatization and traceability
With data and document control processes in place, document quality improves. Documents are uniform, and the document owner can track changes at each stage. Everyone will know where the most up-to-date versions are and how to make changes to them. Templates for document production ensure that content is accurate and correctly formatted and provide control around language and legibility.
Traceability is particularly critical in businesses subject to regulatory mandates or those that need to show historical access to information. Version control should be built into the user interface – guaranteeing that the most current templates are used and keeping a record of previous versions. The most effective document generation systems will allow for data to be drawn from one or more external data sources, thus eliminating, in some instances, manual input. And your organization can apply legislative or internal policy changes instantly to document templates to assure compliance. They can be forward-published to appear to users on the date required – negating the risk of issuing an old, incorrect version of the document.
Document control software capabilities every document automation solution should include
Quality document control was once as simple as keeping alphabetized records in filing cabinets; however, now, it can be as involved as cloud-based filing systems protected by active monitoring and multi-factor authorization procedures. Today, the best document management systems rely on artificial intelligence and machine learning to automate control processes. When choosing a document automation solution, you should make sure the options you’re vetting include document control considerations like:
- Advanced Security. Automation plays a large role in keeping your information secure. Backups, software upgrades and updates, anti-virus, and anti-phishing tools help ensure that data are protected.
- Access Rights. Documents stored electronically should use permissions protocols to limit access to these documents only to those who need them. These rights can set access rights based on individual needs, departments, or roles.
- Encryption. An essential component of document security, encryption algorithms scramble your documents’ contents, both while in transit over email or at rest, stored in a digital setting. Encryption helps prevent unauthorized access to your documents and stops hackers from using stolen information.
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- Backup Solutions. How often does your company back up its key documents and data? Automated processes ensure backup copies of your materials; usually, you can determine the period between backups.
- Approval Mechanisms. Documents need to be approved and signed off on at various stages of routing or access. Ensure document routing is available to obtain signatures promptly where necessary.
- Routing. Use document control systems to manage the paper flow. Automation allows for information to be sent for approval, FYI or signatures as required.
- Annotation Abilities. Look for capabilities to add notes to documents, such as additions, highlights, redactions, or deletions.
- Audit Trails. Many businesses need audit information on documents. An audit trail tracks when a document is viewed, opened and changed and by whom. Checking documents in and out from your management system works just like borrowing a library book. You’re looking to ensure that there’s an audit trail created. Documents can be programmed to be used by just one user at a time, with others only having view access.
- Collaboration Capabilities. In some circumstances, you need a document management system that allows users to work on documents simultaneously. Collaboration settings allow anyone with access to work on a document concurrently.
- Digital Signature. In many cases, documents need to be signed. Ensure electronic signatures are supported
- Disposition. How long do you need to retain client information, employee records, and business information? Having a well-planned document retention policy helps determine how long your organization’s documents are kept and how they are disposed of when needed.
- Forms Management. Forms management will allow you to capture information from existing documents or websites into a digital repository and enable you to manage and use the data inside other templates.
- Full-Text Search. Full-text search capabilities allow you to enter words or phrases into a search bar and find them within the files.
Establishing document control procedures is made easy through automation
The document control components of a document automation system are vital for managing the modern office. With tools such as HotDocs, a leader in document automation, businesses of all sizes securely streamline their operations, gain efficiency, and see improved productivity through our automated document management solutions. To learn more about how document control software features can benefit your business; contact us today, or give us a try.