The following are 7 action oriented suggestions for both Suppliers and EPCs based on our survey results and our own observations of current gaps.
Establish more rigorous internal document control procedures. If you have no processes, take what you get from an EPC and make it your own just like any other procedure in your company. Do a one-day sprint to formalize some document control procedures. Run your plan past a document control expert who has significant experience working with EPCs for verification.
Ensure that you apply a structured, unique, and project-specific number to every document leaving your organization. Every document controller should follow the same pattern. We suggest formats like [Sales Order]-[Doc Code]-[Sequence]-[Sheet] i.e. S1234-B01-001-01. Note that the document number never changes (but the revision number, and titles may change). Use transmittal numbers when sending and track every in/out document by document number.
Have a digital stick file for every project. You should be able to quickly locate the most recent version of every document. Create sub-folders for previous versions.
Ensure that your technical staff review the customer-supplied VDR at the proposal stage to save time and frustration once the project has started. Have your questions answered before the project begins.
Create an internal code list and map it to your EPC codes. If your technical staff can do a cross reference, document control becomes much easier.
Learn how to bill for your documentation work when appropriate. It is an extra cost that your company must incur to prepare custom documentation that meets your customer’s requirements. As the survey showed, EPCs generally expect that they will be billed for documentation work and do understand the value when it’s done properly. The survey results also show that very few suppliers currently bill for this work.
Look for document requirements asking to embed metadata into each PDF file. EPCs and their clients would reap significant benefits here and should be included in your spec when you go looking for document control tools.