Automatic Document Management: Ditch Your Manual Filing System

Document ControlWhen we all started school as young children, we were given the same speech about keeping our binders nice and tidy.

We all had to go to the local office supply store, buy the colorful subject dividers and begin the year on a good note by placing every piece of paper in its proper spot.

But if anyone saw those same binders at the end of the year, they would see an exploding paper basket in place of the once neat and tidy Filofax.

IQMS ERP – The New Way To Manage Documents

Just like those school days, when any company is faced with managing documents in a manual filing system, the same disheveled end can occur through minor slip-ups and papers getting lost in translation.

Thankfully, IQMS ERP has the solution to this manual system with its Document Control module.

Migrating to an Automated Document Control System

Document Control allows users to review, approve and track all changes made throughout the documentation process, maintain a common secure storage repository and ensure that all documents are completed within a specified time frame.

Within Document Control, you simply create a library, place security on it and then start adding documents. Because IQMS is a comprehensive ERP solution (meaning all the modules from ERP to MES and eCommerce to Quality are integrated), Document Control uses the same workflow system throughout. This allows you set up a documentation process similar to what has been seen in the Purchase Order (PO) approval process.

So if you are tired of manually managing your files and fed up with documents being lost on the network, the process of migrating to using Document Control is quite painless. After creating your libraries for all of the different categories of documents, you will want to assign the proper security on each library and begin to plan out how to make the workflow process fit into your personal documentation style.

Establishing Documentation Workflows

The first step in establishing your documentation workflows would be determining what team members you want to be involved. This would include any reviewers checking for grammar and accuracy of content, the actual document writers and everyone else who would benefit from being involved in each step of the writing process.

For example, if you were manufacturing a custom part, you may want to have the engineers involved in the first couple of stages to ensure that all of the information is being translated from their various technical documents into a user-friendly version. You then may not want to have them involved in the final editing stages where grammar, spelling and content flow are being evaluated. This can all be accomplished by adding specific team members (derived from employees and users already set up within IQMS ERP) to their respective step in a specific documents process.

The next step would be determining how you want the workflow to operate. Do you want each step of the process to be done sequentially or do you want everything to just be started all at once? The same question holds for each person within a certain step – do you want everyone to start looking at the document at the same time or would you rather have them edit the document one at a time? Within Document Control, you have the ability to pick either a sequential or broadcast route.

Sequential libraries and elements within the workflow allow for everything to be done in order. One part of the process cannot be done out of order and each person works on the document one at a time. The broadcast option allows for everyone to see and make their edits to documents simultaneously and in no specific order. On a higher level, broadcast is not normally used per each step of the workflow process (workflow element) because it could cause confusion and that is the last thing that you want to happen.

Document Control Communication

With each person involved in the process, there is also added communication within the Document Control workflow so that you can relay your changes, track the history of all the changes made and share opinions. This is done through various checklist items that can be set up as specific tasks for each member of a workflow element or by submitting responses that can be seen by every team member involved in an element.

The other plus of a workflow structure is that the documents no longer need to be passed along through email, but rather can be attached to the workflow, which will automatically be sent to each member of your documentation team.

Conclusion – Automatic Document Management is the Future of Document Workflows

Gone are the days of human error causing a team member to be left off of an email thread or security on the network blocking or granting access to documents for the wrong employees.

With IQMS ERP and Document Control, the manual part of the equation is gone, and after some quick set up, your manual file management system is transformed into a well-oiled, automatic documentation machine.

Courtney Schenkl, IQMS Automation Specialist, is an integral part of IQMS' development team. Tasked with pushing the boundaries of ERP and shop floor control, the IQMS Automation Group collaborates with manufacturers to deliver innovative solutions.

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