Documents Control - Elements And Requirements

  The ISO 9001 standard is caring for us. It cares for us from several angles. One of these cares regards our documentation. The standard requires that we will document by all means.

But it also cares that we won't get confused and mix up different documents from different sources. Therefore it requires all documents to be controlled. This is not a recommendation but a requirement You must control your documents. In order to achieve documents control you must maintain a method. This method must be one of the organizations quality procedures and it should be called "Documents Control".

In this procedure you must refer to the next line of issues.

Types of records

At first, you must define what documents this procedure would include Documents can be working procedures, diagrams, technical specifications, price quotes etc. In order not to "swirl" around too many documents, let's make it clear. Let's define what a document is:

  • Communication of information

  • Evidence for correspondence

  • Sharing of any kind of knowledge
  • Approved documents

    Someone within the organization must supervise all documents and see that they are suitable for working before they are released.

    The reason is to prevent any faults where unsuitable documents are being used or information that is classified is handed to wrong bodies. It is required to define for whom it is authorized and when must he approve any document. Who is responsible? The same one who is responsible for the information documented. It must be part of his job description. There are situations that more than one function would be needed to approve one document. It happens when more than one process is documented on one document.

    Updated documents

    This requirement assures that always the last version is the version in use - and not an older. Therefore you must define a method for maintaining updated version and elimination of older versions. How would one know what is the last version? Usually organizations manage a list of editions and updates for documents. You can manage the document itself. But most important, it is required to indicate the document itself as the last edition. This way, any employee that would use the document, would be sure that he holds the last edition. Of course, don't forget to document the method.

    It is also required to define what to do with the old versions that are now not updated. How do you handle them? Are they to be destroyed, archived etc. Managing editions must include:

  • Date of last update

  • The reason for the update

  • The function who demanded the update

  • The function that authorized the update
  • Although the ISO 9001 standard doesn't require these requirements specifically, it would help you to achieve its basic requirements. Of course you would use what is suitable for your organization. Today there is a lot of document management softwares. These software, naturally qualify for the standard requirements but it is recommended to review anyone before purchasing.

    Availability and distribution of documents

    This is an un separated part of the last requirement. Defining the availability and distribution of documents must include the following:

  • User authorization - to which it is authorized to use the document.

  • The location of the document - where must the document be kept before and after use.
  • Most of today's process management systems (such as ERP or CRM systems) provide documents control relevant to the process they handle. They present the user with a screen (a screen on a computer system is a document like any other document) with defined information to input. Most of these systems also has authorization module installed. But when systems like the ones mentioned do not exist in the organization, it must provide with his employees the relevant updated documents. That means the latest editions. In order to ensure that, the standard require a documented method. How to obtain that? Well, it depends on your organization and his substructures.

    Identification of documents

    Any document (internal or external) must be identified somehow. Any internal document must have a name, serial number, catalogue number or whatever. Somehow to define it. The ISO 9001 standard requires that you maintain a method to achieve identification. The identification must include the numbering, coding or however you decided to identify it. But it is required to document the method. You must also include location of documents. How one can trace the document. for example customer's files are scanned to the computer or stored in some closet. The final purpose of all this is to achieve control of the documents - any employee, once he looks at a document or trying to trace a document, would know where to approach: a department, a process, some function or any kind of identification relevant to your organization.

    If we look again at process management systems, then it is much simpler. Any document in those systems is identified by a number of some kind, produced by the system. The number is given according to some internal method. In this case you must not document this method but mention it in the procedure that these specific documents are managed.

    In case there are documents that are manually managed you must document the method.
    All this also applies for external documents. Any documentation that arrives from outside (with presumption that it is a document as defined) is included in the ISO 9001 standard requirement. In this case you must specify what is to do with these documents and where one can trace them in the hour of need. For example, where to file the documents. Again, you define the method according to your organization's nature.

    Documents removal

    You must define a method for documents removal for any reason: un updated, out of use, etc. the method must include what is it to do with the document and who is responsible, once it is out of use. For example, removing old documents from the organization's server for no further use or removing old forms from the offices that no one would use them again. Some of this things sound trivial and they are, but still this is a ISO 9001 standard requirement..


  • The ISO 9001 standard requires that we document all sorts of our documents. It also requires that we would not confuse all kinds of documents from different sources. Therefore we must define a method for documents control.

  • This is not a recommendation but a requirement.

  • The method must be presented as a documented procedure.

  • The documented procedure would be called "Documents control".

  • You must include a definition of documents within the method - what is a document.

  • All documents must be approved before use. The purpose is to verify that the documents are suitable for work.

  • All documents must be updated. You must define a method to ensure the use of updated documents only. The method should include management documents editions and documents indications.

  • All documents must be identified. The organization must specify a method for documents identification. The purpose is that any employee would know which document he holds or where to trace it.

  • It is also required to manage availability and distribution of documents. You must verify that the documents that are distributed to the employees are the correct ones.
  • Comments

    Popular posts from this blog

    Sekonda & Seksy Watches - A Brief History