paperworkDocument control often gets mixed up with document management and content management in terms of what it actually refers to. More specifically, document control applications often get confused with applications that address the other two, where users believe that a document management system adequately addresses document control, etc.

Document management refers to storing, locating, updating, tracking and sharing documents. A document management system turns paper documentation into an electronic format to simplify these functions and make it easier and more efficient to handle large amounts of documentation in a company.

Content management refers to collecting, managing and publishing information (content) and often involves the use of a content management system to expedite and more efficiently manage the process especially as content creation becomes more complex.

Document control refers to the management and control of documents encompassing security, version control, review, approval and submission, often to an external customer. Key to document control is knowing which document is the most recent (version control) and also knowing and controlling who can make changes to documents (change control) while also ensuring that obsolete documents are no longer used but are accessible if required. Document control also involves the approval of documents as revisions are made by either the supplier managing the documents or the vendor receiving them.

Depending on the circumstances and company, document control might refer to a person(s) or department. When document control is a large enough concern, an entire group can be responsible for its completion whereas in smaller companies where document control is not as prevalent, the job often falls to existing staff members in inside sales or project management to complete as required.

So while document management generally refers to the storing and handling of documentation, document control specifically refers to the control and management of documents normally for the purpose of submitting them to a customer at the completion of a project.

Document control often requires a company to customize documentation for their customers before submission to them and the process might involve documents being passed back and forth between them which increases the importance of revision control to ensure that only the most recent version is used.

With document controllers often utilizing non-document control specific applications like Microsoft Excel to handle the work, their ability to handle many important tasks – revision control, change control, document tracking, customization of cover pages, databook creation – becomes difficult if not impossible since Excel wasn’t designed with these functions in mind.

At some point, Excel and applications of its kind may become obsolete for purposes of document control when the number of projects being run and the customization of documentation required becomes too much to handle.

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