Document Control Software - Seeking Experiences and Recommendations

I

IEGeek - 2006

#1
Well I finally have started at the new position in the new company.

I love it and I am already saddled with many responsibilities. It is so nice to be appreciated and not have to fight an uphill culture shift.

That being said and the reason for my post in this topic area, is that I have been tasked with determining if we need a third party software for document control or if we can control it in house. We are a heavily involved technology firm with lots of R & D. I know what my capabilities are and what I can do to manage the project, my question is this;

Does anyone have experience with any software for document control and if so, experiences, good or bad and any brand names, contact info would be great. I do not even know what is out there, but in an effort to complete my due dilligence, I want to make sure I am seeing both sides of the picture

Thanks
 
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Wes Bucey

Quite Involved in Discussions
#2
IEGeek said:
Well I finally have started at the new position in the new company.

I love it and I am already saddled with many responsibilities. It is so nice to be appreciated and not have to fight an uphill culture shift.

That being said and the reason for my post in this topic area, is that I have been tasked with determining if we need a third party software for document control or if we can control it in house. We are a heavily involved technology firm with lots of R & D. I know what my capabilities are and what I can do to manage the project, my question is this;

Does anyone have experience with any software for document control and if so, experiences, good or bad and any brand names, contact info would be great. I do not even know what is out there, but in an effort to complete my due dilligence, I want to make sure I am seeing both sides of the picture

Thanks
A topic near and dear to my heart!
I've written on this topic several times - here's a copy of something I wrote on the ASQ Forum on 9-3-2004:
I know lots about "electronic document management" (EDM) software.

I need a lot more information about the scope of your operation to make a meaningful suggestion.

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?"-Wes Bucey, Quality Manager
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.

Somewhere else, I wrote
Why not take the entire QMS system paperless? Is your company a public company? Will you ultimately want to include Sarbannes in your thinking?

It appears the toughest part is that you want to go back and include all your legacy data (FAI) as well.

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.
If push comes to shove and the project is interesting enough, considering talking to me about it as a case study for the book I seem to be endlessly working on:
Wes Bucey offers service as "Strategy Advisor" - Seeking Case Studies for Book
 

bpritts

Involved - Posts
#3
I hesitate to throw in a quick and perhaps not fully thought thru comment after
you have seen such a well detailed brief by Wes... but, after hesitating, here
goes.

One of my favorite clients put up a portion of their document control recently using the base Microsoft server software.

Their goal was much less ambitious than the full set of considerations Wes outlines. Specifically, they wanted:

- to use their network for document display/distribution

- as a replacement for a system that involved multiple office and shop
floor binders, with copies of the QS-9000/ and now TS 16949 required
procedures, work instructions, and job specific documents

- to minimize implementation cost

They built the whole thing using the inhouse web server capability on Microsoft
small business server. I forget the name of the specific module from
SBS they used. The documents themselves are in their native formats -
Word, Excel, PDF, etc., although all write locked.

Their systems leader put the whole thing up relatively quickly... i.e. spare
time over a few months.

It looks great and has been effective for them.

It helps that (a) they had already made a commitment to make their computer network widely available to all employees and (b) had put the
network comms and PC's in place. (b) their work force is well trained and
relatively tech savvy, including their shop people. The company is a stamper and tool builder with 3 locations.

They chose not to get elaborate for their document routing/approval. They use their email system to circulate documents for review and then do a final email as approval.

It's worked well for them. If your're interested in pursuing further let me know and perhaps I can get you in touch with them.

Best regards,

Brad Pritts
consultant

Ann Arbor, Michigan
 
#4
IEGeek said:
Well I finally have started at the new position in the new company.

I love it and I am already saddled with many responsibilities. It is so nice to be appreciated and not have to fight an uphill culture shift.
Good on you Geek :agree1: Congratulations and good luck..

/Claes
 
T

tomvehoski

#5
Take a look at Microsoft Sharepoint. It does MUCH more than document management, but is very easy to set up and use (if you have the right server environment). Our documentation is stored on a central server in Europe, but the search interface is not that good. We have many different divisions, locations, etc. and it makes finding what applies to you difficult at times. I set up a Sharepoint list in a few hours that links to our most common, critical documents, has one click filtering based on your function (project managers only look at documents they would use). You can also store documents on the server itself. It will also do automatic revision control, saving every previous version of a file.

Just do a search on the MS website for SharePoint and you should find a good overview.
 
D

ddunn

#6
I believe what you are looking for is a PDM (Product Document Management) or PLM (Product Lifecycle Management) system. I have researched and used several systems. I even wrote my own way back when nothing was available of the shelf.

The best system for you will depend on your application and required interfaces. A good resource for information and selection criteria determination is the Association of Configuration and Data Managers (ACDM) at ACDM.org
 

CarolX

Super Moderator
Super Moderator
#7
IEGeek said:
That being said and the reason for my post in this topic area, is that I have been tasked with determining if we need a third party software for document control or if we can control it in house. We are a heavily involved technology firm with lots of R & D.
One option you might want to investigate.

Does your Engineering group use a CAD software program, i.e. SolidWorks, SolidEdge, Pro-E? Many of these have a doc control upgrade available.

Here is a link to decent forum on CAD systems

http://www.cadchat.com/

Easy to use boards...like the Cove!!

Good luck on your new assignment!
 
I

IEGeek - 2006

#8
See this is why I love the Cove.

You post a question and instantly 100's of experienced experts deluge you with information. I love you guys!!!!!! :thanx: :thanx: :thanx:

I will investigate all those options and thanks to Carol for the PM with all the related links within the Cove.

I will keep you posted
 
N

nickh - 2011

#10
Wes,

Up to 30 levels of security? I'm stumped after about 6. Do you have a list handy?

ddunn,

I've looked at several of those in the past, and one former employer was rolling out Agile right after I left the company. Everyone I looked at was in the 6-7 figure range for a medium sized company. Are there any systems that are geared (and priced) toward the small to medium sized business market?
 
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