Sunset Clause



Hello everyone, hope your day is going well. This is my first post here though I've lurked for a bit.
My question is regarding a sunset clause on a document. My company is considering using the intranet as a medium for access to documents, but can't restrict printing with any certainty unless we use additional software. As you can guess there's a budget. In any case I've seen it defined as:

"A date stamp feature in your system to automatically place the date on documents when they are printed. Documents are valid only on the day they are printed."

Q1: Does this need to be called out in the quality manual and printed on a header or footer or would the reference in the QM be sufficient?

Well OK, only one question. I know there are no truly defined rules, try as we might, but I sure would appreciate your opinions.


M Greenaway

Our intranet documents say 'printed copies are uncontrolled' - as simple as that !

Everyone is taught to understand what this means, i.e. they must verify the copy they hold agains the current version on the intranet, or preferably print each time for use (if hard copy required).


I try to avoid the words controlled and uncontrolled any more. I have seen too many places stamp uncontrolled on documents and still use them for process control. Their reasoning is that since it is stamped, they don't have to worry about revision levels. It all depends on the culture that has developed and understanding of "controlled" in your organization. Most clients I work with I don't believe they will verify the revision on every document each time they use it.

I prefer the method of using the date stamp and printing "Only valid on 2/19/03" or "Valid until 2/22/03" or similar. Have the document control procedure reflect that official documents are maintained electronically, but may be printed for use where necessary. It also helps prevent the uncontrolled printed copy from being used for months without being verified.

You will probably still have to have some printed documents (customer specifications, prints, etc.). Make sure you don't write yourself into a corner and say all documents are electronic.


Angie Bowen

We had the same question. When our auditor was here for our pre-assessment audit, he suggested we put the procedure manual and quality manual on the server and have one printed copy of each. The printed copies would serve as the "offical copies" but this way I wouldn't have to print off 10 copies of the procedure manual. As long as the printed copies and the copies on the server had the same revision dates, and the printed copies were signed and dated, it would work for him.

When putting this on the server, I came across the same question. We have just gotten a new computer system installed with all of the comuters hooked up to a server in the last couple of months and are outsourcing our IT support. I asked our IT contact if there was anyway in MS Word to select a "no print" option. I ended up stumping him, as he said this was no option on MS Word and could not find it on any thrid party software he was aware of. Since we consider our quality manual and procedure manual "offical" or "controlled" when it is printed on paper we have specifically for ISO documentation, we would know if someone printed off an uncontrolled copy from the server as it would not be on this paper. I'm not worried about people making changes to these documents on the server as I have saved them as read-only. I sent out an e-mail to everyone (8 people) explaining they can view the documents but should not print them out.

When our auditor came back last week for our final audit, he said what we had was fine, but suggested maybe putting something in the manuals on the servers so if someone did print it out, they would know it was an uncontrolled document. What we had must of worked as we did not get written up for it and are now recommended for registration. :D

Fudog1138, I hope this helps.



Thanks for the replies. Though I'm the ISO representative for our IT department and by rights a tech nerd :), I firmly believe in printing material out. A pen and paper never crashes.



When we put our documents on the server, we made them read-only and added a watermark in the top left corner "Uncontrolled" in case someone prints it out for reference.


Welcome Fudog1138 and MsHeeler! :bigwave:

Good question, Fudog. I think Tom's answer is pretty much on the mark (when isn't it?) I think the key is you have to have something that works for you, and it must "preclude the use of invalid and/or obsolete documents". I know that is 1994 language, but I think it describes the intent nicely.

As for your comment:

A pen and paper never crashes.

Oh drat! My pencil lead just broke! :biglaugh: And I've never heard someone say the dog ate their notebook! :rolleyes:


Documents on server...

We mandate that documents on server must be saved in "Form view" in MS Word. This allows much easier hyperlinking with no annoying "read only" pop-up box. :frust:

Our QAM says that hardcopied documents unless bearing a signed coversheet are uncontrolled. So checking a document on the server for a specific revision level is OK. Printing the document off for completing the work NOW is OK. Placing the hardcopy document into your drawer for next time is NOT OK.

We will be migrating to a work order system that identifies all documents to use for the job. This will be the defacto "document list" for the production floor. So even if they have a copy stuffed into their desk and it is the same revision, they can use it. Spot checks in production for current documents in use coming soon.

Not sure if the document on the server is the most up to date? Go ask/phone the Doc Mgr or QA Supr, or check the lists on the server.

Never been a problem with the auditors.
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