INTRA vs INTER company document control
Controlling documents which are edited only inside your company is the focus for most document solutions. From the days before document control software, we saved files with the revision embedded in the file name. This allowed us to revisit older versions:
Hiring Procedure v1.0
Hiring Procedure v1.1
Hiring Procedure v1.1.1
This is what is being dumped. This is the power of Sharepoint. Open a file, edit it, and save it. Don’t change the file name. All the edits – the who, the what, the when – are all stored by the Sharepoint software as metadata.
It’s easy to look back. Easy to initiate workflows to get approvals for your changes. Easy to automate revision numbering (as meta data) and lock versions.
But what these systems do wonderfully for intracompany changes, they do poorly for intercompany documents.
When sending intercompany documents (such as between yourself and an external client), each company needs to record what they receive and send. You are not necessarily all using the same editing solution so you rely on markups and not just editing the live document.
You are not just separate users of the same Sharepoint / Google Drive / box / Alfresco etc system. You probably don’t have the same file naming formats, and you don’t have one person deciding how all of the control processes are to be policed. Often you are working with “RECORD” versions of files (non-editable issuances of files in PDF).
So the intracompany tools are simply not effective. You need the ability to store each version as a separate file.
NOTE: If you are so tightly integrated to your customer that you are all working in the same management system, you are effectively using intracompany processes.
And thats where these systems fail.
In the simplest terms:
You need a file cabinet for each record/document you are controlling. You need to see what was sent and what was returned. And other meta data about each of those transactions. Its transactional, not edit centric.
In Sharepoint this can only be accomplished if the file name is exactly the same as the file you exported. If the file name is different at all, the system makes an entirely new file cabinet. This quickly spirals out of control with very small mistakes.
DocBoss replicates the idea of a file cabinet for each record/document. Sure the file name can be the same (we still save a new entry), but it can also be different. We associate your meta data – both the unchanging data like doc numbers, doc codes, linked tags/equipment – to that file cabinet. Drop a file in and we know what meta data belongs. If a file gets returned from another company we automatically put it into the correct cabinet even if the file uses the customer number and not your number).
Sharepoint is a great tool for intracompany document control. But rest assured if you are using it for intercompany document control, you are not as “in control” as you suspect. You would be better off setting up file folders for each record the old way, and managing metadata in your spreadsheets.
Note that document control systems generally use a document “management” system in the background. But it is the control system which provides the structure – AKA the file cabinets required for intercompany tracking.