Control of Documents and (FORMS) on a Computer Network

Gman2

Involved - Posts
#1
Ok next item on my dartboard here is Document control.

Brief breakdown: Started here a few months ago, we lost ISO because we dropped it about 4 years ago. Still some old remnants left of the old super bloated system. My job to rebuild and launch by spring.

Here is how document control has been set up from before I started:

There is one HUGE folder on the network with EVERYTHING in it. Period.
Quality related forms, financial forms, vacation requests, fax cover sheets, one time use flyers, you name it. Around 200-250 forms all together. And this is just for FORMS (Ill attack other documents later). It is a locked down controlled folder.

Since I have been here I have created several new forms and am just now starting to modify some existing forms after reviewing them.
Here is the problem. Everyone here is used to going into the existing messy folder and grabbing their forms. All of the new stuff I have created I have place in a separate folder called "controlled forms". The other old directory is called something else. Problem now is when revising these old forms I have been moving them into the new controlled forms folder and some of the more...how to say....ELDER people are flipping their lids because now their form has moved and now they have to look in two places for forms.

My response would obviously be to create shortcut links and keep all of YOUR forms YOU use in a folder on YOUR desktop.
But that would be too easy. or too hard or whatever.

My second thoughts would be to leave EVERYTHING in that old folder including moving my new stuff in there and all of the revised stuff. Then just creating links on MY desktop to everything I am including in the QMS controlled forms system and placing the shortcuts into a folder on my desktop calling it "controlled forms".

Does anyone see a problem with that?
In essence you would have about 250 forms in a master folder, a small portion of them would actually be QMS controlled forms and the rest just garbage and other forms used for non QMS stuff. I would control the changing of ALL forms and everything in the folder would be locked down from change. The only thing is a lot of those forms would be obsolete, BUT if they are not part of the QMS then does it matter?
I would basically show an auditor MY folder on my desktop the linked shortcuts to all of the stuff that we have decided was curtail to the QMS.
The employees could go about their days oblivious to what was actually part of the QMS or not, all that matters to them is that when they pull of their form that is the latest and greatest.

I hope that all made sense. I'm not exactly excited about that option but its the only thing I can think of aside from just saying "YES, YOU WILL HAVE TO POSSIBLY CHECK TWO FOLDERS FOR YOUR FORM" , and then be subject to extreme elderly furry. Which isn't pretty.

G
 
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L

lk2012

#2
Re: Control of Documents and (FORMS)

Hi,
good story, made me chuckle.
Your job is made slightly easier by the lovely oldies actually going to that one-stop-shop folder for everything. My lot use sneaky forms they got somewhere many years ago and play hide-and-seek with our QD.:nopity:
Anyway. How about having a sub-folder in the 'all purpose folder that everyone likes' for the QMS stuff?
Maybe start with the forms and break your colleagues into QMS gently. Once they've seen that having forms in a sub-folder is not such a big deal, do the same for your instructions and then procedures. And last, bundle the rest into a non-QMS folder.
Best of luck.
Lil
 
P

pldey42

#3
Many of us at Elsmar Cove could be described as "elderly" or "oldies." Do you want replies only from young people?

Well, regardless, here goes. Your proposed system puts you in control of everything, and makes you and your computer a single point of failure. What when you're on holiday, or you get a laptop and take it home, or the job is passed to someone else, or you accidentally delete something?

And they're right. Simply adding another folder to the confusion it is indeed making them go hunt in two places not one - error prone, inconvenient and helpful only to one person. And what when you feel a need for another clean-up? Another folder, so now they only have three to hunt through?

How about respecting the users and soliciting their help in designing a system that helps them to control their documents, and also meets the requirements of the standard.

Aging gracefully, and hopefully helpfully,
Pat
 
N

Northwoods

#4
Hi GMan2,

I am new to quality field but had a similar mess a year ago. The company had been bought out 3x's, merge of people/forms from the 3 companies and a mess.

You are probably already doing this but thought I would share my system:

What I did is renamed the forms that they used and put a date and revision number (09.14.14 rev-1) at the end of the electronic file name. That way they knew they were using the newest form.

I also broke down the forms by department that matched my QMS system. (Customer Service, Prepress, Press, etc.) That way the department looking for their forms did not have to scroll through 200 of them.
 

Gman2

Involved - Posts
#5
Many of us at Elsmar Cove could be described as "elderly" or "oldies." Do you want replies only from young people?

Well, regardless, here goes. Your proposed system puts you in control of everything, and makes you and your computer a single point of failure. What when you're on holiday, or you get a laptop and take it home, or the job is passed to someone else, or you accidentally delete something?

And they're right. Simply adding another folder to the confusion it is indeed making them go hunt in two places not one - error prone, inconvenient and helpful only to one person. And what when you feel a need for another clean-up? Another folder, so now they only have three to hunt through?

How about respecting the users and soliciting their help in designing a system that helps them to control their documents, and also meets the requirements of the standard.

Aging gracefully, and hopefully helpfully,
Pat
I consider elderly as a state of mind more than an actual age, you know, set in their ways, crotchety, resistant to change, fond of paper, ect ect.
But its all in good fun.

The system I was describing, maybe I was a left a few details out. One is that I would not be the sole keeper of the documents on my PC. The actual controlled documents would be on the network in a folder called "controlled documents". I would really be the only person concerned with this folder but anyone would have access to it. This folder would contain only shortcuts to files in the "cluster F" directory which pointed at ONLY the forms that were included in the QMS.
A quick link to that folder could be created on my desktop or anyone else's for that matter.
The only thing about this is that the "cluster F" folder would also contain ALL of the other non-essential forms that are not a part of the QMS.
I guess we would be creating a controlled environment for the QMS documents, I mean if you tried to pull one up and print it, it would be the latest version for sure. It would just be in the mix with hundreds of other forms (all controlled for editing) but non QMS.
The "controlled forms" folder on the same network drive would just link shortcuts to certain forms that WERE in the QMS.
Maybe that cleared it up.

This would disrupt NOONE. It would not be as clean and proper as I would like it but I am thinking it would work. I would keep the milkshakes happy and also be ISO compliant at the same time!

Unless I am missing something.

 

Wes Bucey

Quite Involved in Discussions
#6
Ok next item on my dartboard here is Document control.

Brief breakdown: Started here a few months ago, we lost ISO because we dropped it about 4 years ago. Still some old remnants left of the old super bloated system. My job to rebuild and launch by spring.

Here is how document control has been set up from before I started:

There is one HUGE folder on the network with EVERYTHING in it. Period.
Quality related forms, financial forms, vacation requests, fax cover sheets, one time use flyers, you name it. Around 200-250 forms all together. And this is just for FORMS (Ill attack other documents later). It is a locked down controlled folder.

Since I have been here I have created several new forms and am just now starting to modify some existing forms after reviewing them.
Here is the problem. Everyone here is used to going into the existing messy folder and grabbing their forms. All of the new stuff I have created I have place in a separate folder called "controlled forms". The other old directory is called something else. Problem now is when revising these old forms I have been moving them into the new controlled forms folder and some of the more...how to say....ELDER people are flipping their lids because now their form has moved and now they have to look in two places for forms.

My response would obviously be to create shortcut links and keep all of YOUR forms YOU use in a folder on YOUR desktop.
But that would be too easy. or too hard or whatever.

My second thoughts would be to leave EVERYTHING in that old folder including moving my new stuff in there and all of the revised stuff. Then just creating links on MY desktop to everything I am including in the QMS controlled forms system and placing the shortcuts into a folder on my desktop calling it "controlled forms".

Does anyone see a problem with that?
In essence you would have about 250 forms in a master folder, a small portion of them would actually be QMS controlled forms and the rest just garbage and other forms used for non QMS stuff. I would control the changing of ALL forms and everything in the folder would be locked down from change. The only thing is a lot of those forms would be obsolete, BUT if they are not part of the QMS then does it matter?
I would basically show an auditor MY folder on my desktop the linked shortcuts to all of the stuff that we have decided was curtail to the QMS.
The employees could go about their days oblivious to what was actually part of the QMS or not, all that matters to them is that when they pull of their form that is the latest and greatest.

I hope that all made sense. I'm not exactly excited about that option but its the only thing I can think of aside from just saying "YES, YOU WILL HAVE TO POSSIBLY CHECK TWO FOLDERS FOR YOUR FORM" , and then be subject to extreme elderly furry. Which isn't pretty.

G
Let me suggest that you are setting yourself and your organization up for failure if you persist in making yourself the choke point for blank forms and/or finished documents. I'm not young. In fact, I may be among the oldest one percent of regular visitors to the Cove. If you run an advanced search on my name with "document control" or "electronic document management, you will see I've been writing on this topic a long time.

Document management (both manual and electronic) has been a particular specialty of mine for for 40+ years. I try to keep abreast, but I can practically guarantee that any brand name recommendation I might give today might be obsoleted by a competitor's new development tomorrow, so I never publish a brand name recommendation.

I do, however, provide a set of guidelines which might help folks looking to adopt an electronic system. I first wrote this ten years ago. One small addition a year or so ago has made it [almost] current for today's use:
Quote:
Make sure you know and understand the difference between "document sharing" and "document management."

Here's a brief summary to start you off:

Document Management Software

Background:
An organization wants to improve efficiency of document management by ?grafting? a program over current legacy files and all newly-created files which will provide the following minimum benefits:

a) Ease of Search & Retrieval (on different fields/characteristics)


b) Ensure only the most recent revision is available on standard Search menu

c) Automate the procedure of notifying pertinent parties a document is ready for redlining

d) Maintain an audit trail for the status of documents (released or waiting for checking/approval [and by whom])

e) Allow ?full preview? of documents without opening native programs ? i.e. AutoCAD documents can be viewed without latest revision of AutoCAD being resident on user?s computer.

f) Permit ?group printing? of documents, regardless of native file format.

g) Maintain up to 30 security levels on any document, determining whether user has authority to create, modify, redline, view, print, copy, etc.

How do they work?
The primary feature of Document Control Software is a relational database which manipulates very small files called ?metatags?, which relate to certain attributes of documents. Basic attributes are file name, revision level, author, topic, key words, type of file format, etc. which are used for field headings in the database.

By querying the database, a user retrieves a ?menu? of documents which meet the search criteria. Self-contained viewing software permits a user to view and print documents, regardless of the native file format. The views can be scrolled, zoomed, and cropped (i.e. user can print an enlarged detail of a document.)

Users who have redline authority can markup documents without invoking the native file program (the redlines are saved as ?overlays? in separate files without changing the original document.)

Users who have checking/approval/redline authority can be automatically notified via email when a document is ready for their review. The program will track when and whether the review is completed and maintain an audit trail for ?real time? status reports on any or all documents in the review process.


By keying on the attribute ?Revision level?, the program can ensure only the most recent, authorized revision is available to most users, reserving authority to view ?superseded? documents to special categories of users.

An important consideration in grafting legacy documents into the new system is choosing fields pertinent to the organization. Many documents, like autocad and word documents have features which provide automatic tags (create date, author, department, etc.) [click on "properties" under File in a Word document to get an idea of already available fields.]

The problem is most users write documents which still show "valued customer" as the author because they have never explored the Properties feature.

An expense to consider is going back into each legacy document and adding the meta tags which allow for sorting and retrieval.

I hope this helps - there are many consultants like me who would come in and give your organization background on choosing the best brand for your organization. Caution is "Are they truly independent or do they have bias toward one brand?"


I didn't add in that post that most software programs have web versions, too. In point of fact, the documents "could" be located either on one server or scattered among hundreds or even thousands of hard drives or servers as long as they were connected or accessible via password over a network, a virtual private network, or the internet.

[<SNIP>

Back to today
Google "electronic document management" to see some other thoughts on this topic. I hesitate to recommend ANY product by brand name, because the competitive nature of the business is that one company can be hopelessly obsolete in a month or two and another can have a great breakthrough in the same period. Regulatory laws change quickly - a user's current and projected situation in that regard are important factors. Current quantity of documents and projected number of authors and changes are a major factor. Collaboration with suppliers and customers is another big factor. __________________
I can add that, back in the mid 90s, my organization spent over $200,000 creating an electronic data and document management program from scratch. It was unique and wonderful for its time, but hopelessly obsolete and simplistic today (everything was written in COBOL.) Today, a sharp shopper can get a pretty good program for less than $500 per seat (a computer and its operator which have author rights.) Many programs, especially web-based ones, have no extra charge for folks who can only read or print documents, not implement any changes. This is very handy for allowing customers and suppliers access to see documents pertinent only to them.

Do you have a time table for your implementation? Will you be adopting a large number of legacy documents into the system? How many new documents would you generate from your people in a week? a month? a year? How many changes (revisions) to existing documents in those same time frames? Do you have a budget range for accomplishing this? How sophisticated (computer-savvy) are your folks? Will they need mild training or intensive training? Are you budgeting the time and expense for that training? Do you envision collaboration with folks in different geographic locations (customers? suppliers? consultants?)

If anything, let me caution you that this decision on software is one which should take some intensive research and analysis. Often, trying to save a few dollars on the initial capital expenditure is penny wise and pound foolish because of the extra time and effort required by users to implement or "work around" bare bones systems compared with feature-rich ones.
 
A

Amanda N.

#7
Gman, I have to agree with whoever posted that you're actually kind of lucky that they've placed everything in one folder as my org members also like to hide documents on personal drives and deep in other uncontrolled locations to use. That being said, it's definitely an issue. I would suggest that you go with whatever is best for the system in the end and in my opinion that would not be creating your own shortcut. In this case, no one knows or understands your QMS and that's never a good thing.

There's got to be some mixture between "there are two folders deal with it" and creating a system as a team that everyone can use. I believe education would be the first step. Show them how much time they're wasting searching through hundreds of files, if it's organized and controlled it will be so much easier! Show them what could happen if it stays and what it could be like if it's fixed. Maybe a quick tutorial on creating shortcuts and searching for those that just can't get it?

Hope that helps, I feel your pain!

Amanda
 

Gman2

Involved - Posts
#8
They are currently controlling every document, even fax cover sheets and blank sign in sheets. Everything is in their old folder. And I can see retaining some control over the non QMS stuff, after all you really don't want people jacking up ANY forms. But thinking along those lines I am considering a "ISO Forms" and a "Non-ISO forms" folder in the current directory and just splitting them up. They are all "controlled (locked)" but not all have to go through review and approval. Maybe?

I think I can get the QMS forms folder down to about 20-30 forms MAX out of the current 250 or so..

But this is going to require some planning. I am going to meet with the owners hopefully tomorrow to go over an action plan for implementing this.
You are right, there is going to be some level of "this is how it is", I was just trying to avoid some of that. I really don't want to disrupt daily work but to me this is a very MINOR issue to look into two folders until you get your links set up.

And Im just playing about the ELDERLY :tg: some of my best friends are elderly ;)
 
L

lk2012

#9
Hi Gman,
I agree with your latest idea, sounds like making the most out of the elementary system you've already got and getting towards ISO at the same time.
Best of luck!:cfingers:
Lil
 
P

pldey42

#10
[..]
You are right, there is going to be some level of "this is how it is", I was just trying to avoid some of that. I really don't want to disrupt daily work but to me this is a very MINOR issue to look into two folders until you get your links set up.

And Im (sic) just playing about the ELDERLY :tg: some of my best friends are elderly ;)
[..]
The last comment is disappointing. I really don't mind, but if they catch a whiff of your attitude, or don't see your words as just playing, you're in trouble. Being resistant to change, crotchety, set in their ways and lovers of paper is not the exclusive preserve of the elderly. Indeed, it's not even a mindset, it's a stereotype, convenient to use when talking about colleagues instead of with them.

Be that as it may, with your current strategy you risk the following:

First, if you treat other people's issues with comments that can be interpreted as sarcastic asides and smileys, they will treat your issues with matching contempt; as Stephen Covey said, to win respect from others, give them respect. Failure to do this is one way in which quality people get side-lined.

Second, by not withdrawing an updated document from the first folder and making people hunt in "only two places" you risk a nonconformity against ISO 9001 clause 4.2.3.g which requires the document control process to prevent unintended use of obsolete documents. If the problem is systemic, and you seem to be planning exactly that, you risk it being graded as a major NC.

Further, new standards are being written such as to encourage sharing of common elements - like document control - amongst management systems. By removing "non-QMS" material you're going backwards: you want two document control systems? How expensive and confusing would that be?

Wes is right: you need a document control process, not a document control person.

Pat
 
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