Is anyone using Microsoft Word for their documentation software?

Is anyone using Microsoft Word for their documentation software?
We are using it with file restrictions for people who only need to view and print forms. So far things are working. My concern is that down the road we will run into problems. We only have 25 employees.

Michael T

We use MS Word and MS Excel for our controlled documents. We generate hard copies for the shop floor as there are no computers out there. The files are on the mainframe with limited access and password protected (less than 25 people have access to the directory) and only three people know the passwords for the various documents.

This seems to work well for us and we haven't run into any problems. What kind of problems do you foresee?




I am using Microsoft Word and Excel for preparing documentation, forms and so on. When the work is approved and ready to post on the internal web site, I run it through Adobe Acrobat to produce a tamper-proof digitally signed version. That is the one that goes to the web page.
  • Since that copy is the ONLY one that anyone else can see, is is automatically the current authorized version.
  • Since it can't be changed you don't have to worry about it. The documentation controller has full access to that folder on the server; everyone else has read-only. you don't need to worry about file-level permissions.
  • One of our procedures, and a footer on the front page of the QM and the procedures, states that a printed copy -- or an electronic copy not on the network -- is not a controlled copy, so that eliminates that headache. (Each employee has a computer.)
  • The index list to find them on the web page IS the quality documentation list.
  • You can add hyperlinks to jump within and between documents, to make it even easier to use.
  • Things like document approval, CAR's and DCR's are implemented as Microsoft Exchange e-mail forms, so all you have to do is fill in the blanks and hit "Send". the e-mail system does all of the tracking for you.

We are not yet registered, but our pre-registration audit is tomorrow and the "real" one is at the end of July. So far, nobody has found any problems with this. And I know there are commercial systems for sale that do essentially the same thing.

Graeme C. Payne
ASQ Certified Quality Engineer
[email protected]

[This message has been edited by Graeme (edited 06 June 2001).]

I use them too, without too much in the way of problems. We have a small number of controlled hardcopies and online access via our intranet to a writeprotected drive.

One word of warning though: If you use hyperlinks between the documents you may run into problems if you move delete or change the documents names - i.e. "dead links".


Marilyn P

I used an MS Word and Excel on-line documentaton system for about 5 years with no problems. The files were set up as read only and hard copies were good for the date of printing only. The print date was on the bottom of all documents.

As was mentioned ^^, there is some maintenance involved with the hyperlinks but this is the case with any format!

It can work and it is cost effective.


We are a very large company with well over 1,000 procedures. Last year I moved our system from a manual to an electronic version utilizing Word and Excel. The files are posted on the shared network and are protected from use except for the Document Controllers and Management Rep. all others only have read only & print access. A footer has been added to the bottom of each procedure that reads, Reference copy only, original can be found at: file name & path.
We as well use the link feature throughout - document masters - forms - attachments - reference documents - dept to dept - this feature allows for a numerous benefits. True the link can pose problems down the road but with a good base and knowledge of your trained controllers alot of this is avoided.

E Wall

Just Me!
Trusted Information Resource
We also use MS Word/Excel, but only 3 people have access to electronic file (QA Manager, QA Eng, and ISO Coord). Hardcopy of relevant Specs/WI in manuals (by Dept) on shop floor, Visual SOPs posted at equipment used.

I've been working towards launching via intranet using Adobe Acrobat Reader. As Graeme mentioned, it is view only so no risk of tampering.

Having electronic documents as read-only isn't secure. Anyone with some familiarization can circumvent that security prot, (a bit safer if the files are on network drive where they do not have write access). But either way a person can make changes and print them out, bypassing your security (even if you req signature on each page in doc ID block - can be forged).


Originally posted by E Wall:
... Having electronic documents as read-only isn't secure. Anyone with some familiarization can circumvent that security prot, ...

True ... however, look at both the people and cost issues.
  • You have to have at least some level of trust in your people. Yes, you need to deal with those who violate that trust -- but I don't believe it is good for anyone to have a system that assumes up-front that nobody can be trusted. You reap what you sow.
  • No system can be made so secure that nobody can ever tamper with it under any circumstances. Attempting to do so is probably not cost-effective, and can result in a system that is very secure, but totally unusable and therefore useless.

A reasonable level of security, especially to prevent accidental disruption or random low-level vandalism, is certainly desirable and wise. That is why, for example, only the Document Coordinator would have write access to a document folder on the network. But you should not need any higher level of protection for computer files than you currently give to paper documents or other corporate intellectual property. (After all, I could always copy and re-type a paper document, too! :D )

E Wall

Just Me!
Trusted Information Resource
I was not approaching this as a 'trust issue' but rather a 'control issue' which is where the ISO focus tends to be directed.

Our printed 'controlled copies' are identified by the special paper they are printed on (no extra $ compared to reg wht paper). Any 'white' copy is an uncontrolled document, Per our procedures it is specified that a Controlled Document is: "one that will be automatically replaced when the document is revised". An uncontrolled copy: "is not automatically replaced, and is to be used for short term reference only. It is then the associate's responsibility to check the document revision to ensure only the current version is being used".

The trust is there and control is there, and the system is very cost effective.

barb butrym

Quite Involved in Discussions
for those who don't have a warm fuzzy in the trust area...export word into an adobe format for read only. All you need is 1 writer and readers are license required for readers, and that eliminates the issues where not everyone is operating at the same rev of MSOffice , or worse, using a different word processor. Another idea is for non-network paperless systems, distribute a CD (rewriteable for updates?) or diskette,,,,,

oops you guys already talked about adobe...missed that at first, when I skimmed the thread......

I personally trust the system.....

[This message has been edited by barb butrym (edited 14 June 2001).]
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