It’s very important that you use a document version control system for your Quality Health Safety Management software. When audits are performed, the most common question is usually:

“How do you know that this is the latest version of the document?”

This simple question is pretty difficult to answer. We all have our own methods for increasing the version number, but how do you really know if they’re accurate? Several solutions have been provided to solve this problem. In our blog post “The Purpose and Importance of Audit Trails” we mentioned a little about document version control and how this can help with an audit trail. In this article, we want to go further on document version control. 

Document Management System

There are a number of information management systems available for managing document control. Some good examples are Sharepoint and Windchill. However, implementing these solutions not only changes the version control process but has a significant impact on your organization. It results in a long implementation process and even higher costs because of the loss of effective hours by the employees of the company, along with increased consulting costs.

What Is Version Control?

The quick definition is:

Document version control is the process of tracking and managing different versions (or drafts) of a document so you know which is the current iteration of a file.

Version control is used to manage projects, as well as other types of documents and assets. You can often see the document history and document revisions to keep track of each file.

Document Version Control in QHSE Management Systems

Document Version Control in QHSE Management Systems

Why Is Version Control Important?

Version control is important so that everyone is working from the exact same version of a document at any given time. And they know they’re using the latest version. Imagine the hours wasted if someone on your team is working with outdated requirements. 

It’s critical to keep track of how files were changed, who saw them, whether or not they’ve been approved, and when they all happened. Also keep track of what the current versions are and what the previous version was on all digital documents. This all helps for providing an audit trail.   

Register

The low-cost solution to solve this issue is by creating a register where you track all the changes made to the digital documents. The register can be set up in Excel/Access or any other type of database. The idea is that whenever a document is edited, you update the version number and also add the date when you altered the document. This way, you get an overview of all versions of files. As a result, you can always cross-check the version number on the document with the latest version in the register. This makes the whole document handling process more secure. However, this setup is very cumbersome and prone to human mistakes. The QHSE employees need to have a strict instruction to change the register every time a document changes. While it may be easy to set up, this is not the most effective document version control. 

Document Version Control Software

As mentioned above, there are a lot of information management systems and document management systems available to use as document version control software. The necessary tools are all available in those systems. File types, file versions, revision history and document approval workflow are all part of the document management systems. The downsides are the long implementation process, but you also have to think about the connection to a QHSE management system. How integrated is it in a QHSE management system? It may be not the most effective document version control system. 

QHSE Management Platforms as Document Version Control Solutions

Combining a QHSE management system with a document management system could be the ideal situation. A modern QHSE management platform has the capabilities to manage the tasks of a QHSE management system and a document management system. Together, there is a focus on managing and maintaining the complete QHSE management system, as part of this platform is to provide a versioning system for documents. Next to the versioning of documents, a whole range of other features are embedded to support the QHSE management system, such as issue tracking, audit support, etc.

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