Discovering Document Control Systems

There’s a saying among engineers: a well-documented ‘good’ product is better than a poorly-documented ‘excellent’ product. This applies to any industry where engineering documentation is key to the business process, including manufacturing and construction. As industries evolved, the role of documentation became paramount, and document controls evolved alongside.

What are Document Controls?

Document controls are a set of practices that specify how documents are created, assessed, distributed/accessed, and disposed of at the end of their lifecycle. The goal is to manage every step in the document’s lifecycle efficiently and securely.

Most organizations opt for document control software when seeking to improve the reliability of engineering document management along with quality-related monitoring processes. Until digital systems were created, the function of document control was relegated to junior or low-level administrative departments, seen as a back-office function. Today, it’s completely turned around; organizations recognize that a high-level technology group needs to be responsible for document control in today’s digitized business landscape. This means investing not only in good-quality technology systems but also in trained and tech-savvy employees who know how to maintain and manage those systems. This explains why we’re seeing engineering organizations exploring Digital Transformation strategies in unprecedented numbers, a trend accelerated post the Covid 19 pandemic.

The first step in digitizing the EPC process is implementing a robust digital Document Management System that aligns with the company’s IT infrastructure. That includes CAD, email programs, spreadsheets, and all other typical ‘office’ software. Security is another critical factor in recent years. With information becoming a valuable asset, companies are focusing on protecting their data while taking it online – a tricky situation. Usually, the company turns to reputed digital transformation specialists or providers with experience in providing both security and flexibility of access.

Why are Document Controls Necessary?

Let’s start with the basics – what is an engineer’s job? From their perspective, it might be to create a successfully working model of the desired end result, whether a product, project, or phase of a project. To their employers, that first model is just a prototype – the first step in a business process. From their perspective, the engineer’s job is to create a process for achieving the successful model again and again in a controlled way. This means the engineer (and their team) have to document every step of the process in a way that is understandable to others down the line. This documentation includes not just the technical drawings but also supporting documents across all engineering tasks, like memos, change requests, BOMs, approvals, and all the myriad tasks that need to be recorded and saved for future reference. That’s where digital systems have a clear advantage over manual systems.

A digital document control system will help engineering teams record their findings on how to consistently reproduce a particular (successful) process or design, what worked, what didn’t, any learnings along the way, and other information useful to the organization over time, and it will do all this without error, in a fraction of the time and at a fraction of the cost.

Another key benefit of a digital document control system is with respect to quality. After a process has been finalized and documented, the team must ensure that workers will continue to conform to the required quality standards. Quality standards can evolve over time or differ from location to location, and in this case, engineering data becomes invaluable proof of compliance to the particular standard. Quality documentation is therefore required in almost all modern EPC projects by both the project’s internal stakeholders and external entities like customers, regulatory agencies, government bodies, etc. If you keep in mind that all this data has to be correctly stored, reviewed and approved, published and maintained, then it becomes clear why digital document control systems are becoming so popular and why, as we have seen in the last decade, the need for such systems spiked as soon as data became electronic and the associated roles became electronically managed. In fact, that is why we continue to see the function of Document Controls go from a low-key administrative function in some far-flung office to an important strategic role tied in with the organization’s corporate strategy.

In Conclusion

Today’s engineering document management software is just one part of an organization’s corporate digital transformation strategy, but it’s a vital part. You could say it’s the cornerstone of the organization’s digital transformation plan. And for that reason, it is important that the organization takes aggressive steps to respond proactively and not just reactively to the ever-expanding challenges of our rapidly-digitizing world.


Andy is renowned as a servant leader in global ERP and Enterprise solutions. He combines powerful communication and negotiation skills with deep business insight. Proficient in steering complex projects to success, he is always focused on the broader enterprise value. Currently, he is spearheading business operations at Wrench Solutions in North America.