Document Control Management - External documents flowed down from customers



How do you keep track of your external documents flowed down from your customers?

I have an excel spreadsheet that lists the title, the customer, the rev date, original issue, the date we received the spec, the date it was reviewed.

I have a huge problem of keeping it up to date because we have dozens of customers each with their own specifications and it's hard to keep track of what level/date they are at. I often find missing information or just blatantly wrong. This is an audit finding waiting to happen. It keeps me up at night sometimes.

Any help or suggestions would be helpful.


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Re: Document Control Management

If you don't have an agreement with the customer to notify you when relevant documents are updated, then you have the responsibility to keep up with them. The most common method I see to deal with this set up a recurring check and then divide and conquer.

In the spreadsheet you have, put a column showing where you need to check for the updated document such as a web link or a contact person. Establish a frequency for each document to be reviewed and have the spreadsheet flag you when a document is due to be checked. If the list is overwhelming, don't make them all due at the same time and assign different people to check different ones so that it will get done as scheduled.

If you have industry specifications (ASTM, ANSI, ISO, etc.), there are standards companies that provided services to notify you when documents are updated. Use them as much as you can.


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Re: Document Control Management

[MrOctober] has a spreadsheet to centralize tracking these documents. It sounds as though it's maintained independently of other parts of the system.

I don't know what your regulatory requirements are - but making the QA guy responsible for maintaining something independently of the rest of the system using a spreadsheet is a traditional rudimentary response to a perceived requirement.

Are these documents deliverables with customer orders? Are they already being maintained independently in customer files, perhaps as the responsibility of somebody in a Sales role? That in itself may be meeting the requirement - if the order review process includes verifying that the order references a revision of the customer spec that is already in the organization's possession.

I don't know if this helps, but in small organizations I prefer orderly decentralized controls with local responsibility over centralized responsibility with inadequate software tools and resources.
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