The Problem: I am responsible for revamping our document control system. Where should I start?
Document control means different things to different people, depending on what they are dealing with, who their audience is and the risks associated with the use of wrong document. There are numerous systems for achieving control, but all have the same three simple elements.
1. What is it?Every document, whatever the format, needs to be identifiable. This may be a topic or a reference, but unless you know what it is, what chance do you stand of controlling it?
2.What issue is it?This enables you to know whether you have the right document, as well as how many versions are available and when they were created. This doesn't have to be complicated. If it's a letter or an email, then a date may be sufficient as it tells you when it was produced. If it's something more complicated, or you don't want to date it, then a simple issue or version number or letter will suffice.
3. Have I got it all?Personally, I always number pages using the format "1of 2", etc. This way, the user knows that they have the whole document. A bit of common sense is required here, though, as no-one would expect a novel to be numbered in this way. However, if the document is to be stored or used electronically then this format can be a lifesaver.
These simple steps will ensure that keeping control of your document is easy. Document control doesn't have to be a bureaucratic nightmare.