Document Control Software for Small Businesses

One of the more challenging aspects of creating and maintaining an ISO 9001 Quality Management System (QMS), as well as gaining ISO 9001 Certification, is document control.  Perhaps one of the most common findings from internal and external audits of the ISO 9001 QMS relates to document control.  The documents being used in the organization are not the latest revision, they are not properly identified, or they are not a properly controlled copy. 

Document control becomes an even greater challenge for small businesses that cannot dedicate the staff to configuration management or document control that larger companies can.  That is why using document control software can be very helpful for small businesses to maintain better control of their documents, leading to better compliance with the document control requirements in the ISO 9001:2008 Standard.

There are many vendors of document control software, in fact there may be too many.  Those searching for document control software can be overwhelmed with the choices.  So here are some things to consider when looking for document control software.

Select Document Control Software that Meets Your Need

What are the biggest issues with document control in your organization?  Too much paper?  A confusing hybrid of paper and electronic documents?  The need for wide document access while maintaining control?  Proper revision management?  This is a short list of common issues, but every organization is different.  Brainstorm and list the issues your organization has with document control, they you can search for the features most needed and ask the most pertinent questions when considering document control software. 

Understanding your needs and looking for software that best meets them can save a lot time during the search process, and save money by making sure you don’t buy the wrong document control software. 

Consider Price and Value of Document Control Software

Obviously price is an important consideration, especially with small businesses that have a limit in what they can spend.  However, also consider the value the software will bring to the business.  It is going to save significant work hours and free employees to do more important things?  Will it prevent messes and mix-ups that send employees scurrying to fix before audits or to address audits findings.  The balance between the cost and the value it can bring to the business has to be weighed.

Easy to Use with the Right Look and Feel

Finally, how easy the document control software is to use and how user-friendly it is will be critical factor in how well the staff takes to using it.  Overly complex and difficult to use software, especially in a small business environment, may create resistance and delays in implementation or it may end up sitting on the shelf and never be used.  Be sure the team directly involved in using the documentation control software gets to take part in demonstrations and evaluations.  The more they feel involved in the selection process, the more apt they are to embrace the new approach to document control.

While selecting document control software may be a difficult process, using an automated approach to dealing with document control can alleviate one of the more difficult and tedious aspects of maintaining a top-notch quality management system.  Simplifying document control can leave you more time to deal with more critical aspects of quality control like customer satisfaction and process improvement.

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