You may be compromising the efficiency and effectiveness of your business by not prioritizing comprehensive document version control.
Version control prevents your employees and decision-makers from acting on outdated, incomplete, and missing information across departments and individuals; and this has substantial financial implications. Unfortunately, this problem is more common in organizations with manual or legacy systems than you might expect.
Effective version control helps maintain document integrity, increase productivity, and make the most of all the available data.
Version control: What does it mean?
Version control involves managing multiple versions of the same document, especially when a clear record needs to be kept of the process by which the document was created, developed, and modified over time. The document gets an identifier each time it is revised, so you can identify the latest version and differentiate it from drafts and final versions.
Version control is useful in a digital collaborative environment, where many people work on developing a document, tracking its changes, capturing decisions, and documenting the review process.
Often, version control is employed when developing essential documents, such as policies, procedures, and strategic plans, since these documents are reviewed and updated frequently, and knowing which version is in force at any given time is essential.
Version control: Why is it important?
Version control identifies the development of a policy, a new procedure, or standard guidelines. It allows you to archive and retains all the versions of the document. For example, the first draft was submitted to a group for comment. The current document that resulted from those comments. The subsequent versions which were passed back and forth for clarification, and the final draft, which was approved by the department head, signed off by the authority of IT is made public. With version control, you can also identify the changes made by different individuals at contrasting times on a document.
Identifying such versions and making them easily accessible facilitates understanding of how the document developed. In addition, it allows a review of previous versions to see when decisions were made regarding content. It is imperative when dealing with controlled documents like work instructions, SOPs, policies, and much more. There is no need to guess what procedure, form, or guidelines are in effect at any time. Older copies can be destroyed to avoid confusion and to save space.
Version control: What are the benefits?
- It offers a systematic and consistent approach to business management that is universally understood and applied.
- Makes authentic, complete, and reliable records by separating drafts and final versions.
- Document audit trails provide evidence of how documents are created, revised, and updated over time.
- Allows users to quickly and easily find or track the latest official document version.
- Deletes drafts and redundant versions easily, reducing confusion, errors, and duplicates.
- Saves time and administrative costs.
Version control: What are the challenges?
Document version control is not easy to implement only because it has benefits. To effectively implement document version control, many businesses encounter the following roadblocks:
#1: Lack of mobile technology
The ability to control document versions effectively through mobile, multi-site, and remote means is critical to a multi-site operation’s effectiveness. This is more critical in the wake of a recent virus outbreak. Unfortunately, many companies run on systems designed for:
- Lack of device independence
- Lack of integration
- Lack of connectivity to Wi-Fi or the cloud
- Limited to an on-premises installation
Version control and its benefits are ultimately hindered by mobile agility, which is impossible.
#2: Use of outdated legacy systems
The legacy systems in many industries, such as utilities and manufacturing, are disconnected and largely manual. Even though most do not see this as a problem since these are simply “the ways they’ve always done it,” – these legacy systems can pose unique challenges in the era of COVID-19 and the onslaught of data the average business had to deal with in recent years. Furthermore, they can hinder efficient document management.
#3: The lack of standardization of EDMS
A lack of adoption is a significant obstacle to improving document version control – and it is a concern, especially if:
- The EDMS system lacks intuitive functionality.
- The system does not meet the needs of technicians and other users.
- There is a lack of adequate training.
- The system cannot be used on any device.
The lack of adoption of an EDMS system can make it ineffective, resulting in out-of-date, incomplete, and inconsistent documents, which is precisely what EDMS systems are intended to prevent.
#4: Lack of effective Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs).
It would be best if you have clear standard operating procedures (SOPs) that govern your version control practices for document version control to be effective. A consistent approach to information input, approvals, and documentation finalization ensures consistency. Organizations can also gain ISO certification with SOPs.
In most businesses, SOPs do not exist, and workflow processes are not transparent, which leads to inefficiencies and inconsistent results.
Version control: What are the Best-Practices?
Here are some of good practices you can implement to manage document versions:
Hiring an administrator
Maintaining your documents and EDMS system after implementation is made more accessible by an EDMS administrator. They may be responsible for:
- developing documents and keeping them up-to-date
- maintaining an EDMS
- measuring and managing KPIs
- preparing, distributing, and managing data-driven reports
- Training relevant personnel on advanced systems
- Ensuring compliance with regulatory standards
Your organization can also benefit from this person’s expertise by avoiding the mistakes above, saving you money, and improving output.
Maintain the history of documents
You must maintain a clear document history detailing when and who made the changes. Having a versioning capability allows you to know exactly where your document is at any given time and roll back to previous versions if necessary.
Secure your documents
The right electronic document management system allows you to “check out” an electronic document, thereby safeguarding it against further amendments. It protects documents from unauthorized modifications and prevents unnecessary revisions.
Use member controls to restrict changes
The team should have precise controls over who can access and edit and what each member can edit.
Set up workflows to manage document versions
You must create a standardized workflow for managing the different versions of the documents. The workflow also helps automate critical tasks for your team members, such as:
- Watermarking a document to identify its status or version
- Generating a PDF for every new document
- Adding a print stamp when the document is printed
- Electronically signing the document when necessary
This way, organizations can keep their master data current and coordinate their change processes across different work areas. In addition, this validates data and provides a complete audit trail that ensures regulatory compliance.
Make your documents accessible on any device
To make version control work, say goodbye to legacy systems and choose an EDMS like Qualityze that is easy to integrate and can be accessed and edited from a computer, tablet, or smartphone.
Ensure Your Document Security
To ensure your documents are always secure and private, install security features like encryption on your system. In addition, ensure you set up a backup plan, perhaps using the cloud – to avoid data loss.
Integrate with Your Existing IT Ecosystem
You must be able to connect your version control system to existing quality systems so you can gain better control of important documents.
Doesn’t all the activities mentioned above sound like too many administrative duties?
What if we tell you – you can implement all these best practices using a single solution?
That is true!
Qualityze Document Management has everything you need for managing controlled documents, including a centralized database, watermark functionality, digital signature, role-based security controls, audit trail, intuitive interface, configurable workflows, and many other functionalities.
You can request a free demo to experience the difference that Qualityze brings in the way you manage documents.
For more information on Qualityze Document Management Software, please feel free to contact our customer success team on +1-877-207-8616 or write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We will get back to you at earliest.