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Document Mgmt.
ISO Questions Ask The ISO Man Document Mgmt. 9001:2008


Common Document Management Questions

This section attempts to answer some of the common questions and concerns people have about document management what it is, what it isn't and what the things are to consider if your organization is looking at document management technology.

These questions and answers are not a product round-up or definitive text on document management, but rather a "starter-kit" to help you get pointed in the right direction when looking at all the issues when documenting the ISO processes.

We hope you'll find the questions useful.

Tadd W. Uttke

Table of Contents

  1. What is document management?
  2. What is a document?
  3. What are the most common symptoms of a document management problem?
  4. What's the magnitude of the problem?

What is document management?

Document management is a means of organizing documents and data and coordinating the processes for developing, revising, tracking and distributing these documents throughout a lifecycle, which might last for days, years, or even decades.

The benefits achievable with document management are significant:

  • Less time spent looking for information and documents
  • Increased accuracy a way to ensure documents draw on the latest information available
  • Shared access to documents and data, eliminating rekeying and other redundant efforts
  • Overall productivity gains from working smarter
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What is a document?

It used to be obvious. Now it like "the taste of cinnamon": everyone knows what it is, but no one can describe it.

But a document, at least, has something to do with the presentation of information in a structured form using text and graphics which are laid out on pages (or, in the case of electronic documents, on computers screens).

Documents are the best way of communicating information.

Whether your customer is presenting a request for information (RFI) to you, or you are responding with a proposal, documents are the way that we communicate the information that really counts.

Documents are the best way of developing information.

If we are collaborating on a business opportunity, documents are the way that we develop information. You send me a FAX identifying the opportunity. I respond with marketing material.  We draft an outline of a proposal, and so on.  Documents are the way that we develop information together.

Today, most of these documents are in file cabinets, in piles, on desks or on individual PCs and workstations in a wide range of software applications.  Documents begin at the desktop and flow out to the workgroup, the department, the enterprise and the customer.  Businesses depend on documents as the currency of strategic information for providing product information, for outlining work instructions, policies and procedures, and for carrying out the legal contracts that drive the business.

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What are the most common symptoms of a document management problem?

Can you answer yes to any of the following questions?

  • Are documents critical to your business?
  • Are you spending more time hunting for documents than using the information in documents?
  • Do you think that you don't always have the right information at the right time or have the latest information quickly enough?
  • Does paperwork or documentation cause delays in bringing projects to completion and products to market?
  • Do you often start from scratch because tracking down existing information is too difficult?
  • Do you wish that you could better share and re-use information in different places and keep just one copy instead of several?
  • Would you like better collaboration and coordination of your document creation and review cycles?
  • Do you worry that your documents aren't properly secured, backed up or archived?

If you recognize these symptoms, chances are you've got a document management problem.  Which brings us back to management.  Document management brings order to this dynamic, constantly changing world, by providing a structure that makes work processes easier and more effective.  Document management provides office workers with a quick and easy way to find information and know that what they've found is accurate and up to date.  Document management also helps the office worker develop information by enabling re-use of the existing document database and by ensuring that the right information gets to the right people at the right time.

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What's the magnitude of the problem?

Huge. And growing.  Gartner estimates the U.S. businesses create over one billion documents a day.  So whether your business is engineering, insurance, electronics, finance or telecommunications chances are you're helping generate these billion documents.

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Last modified: November 24, 2011