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Our document control survey – Supplier vs EPC Why is Vendor Documentation so Painful? – highlighted a number of key takeaways regarding the relationship between suppliers of process equipment and the EPCs they serve.

For example, more than 80% of EPC survey respondents stated that data validation and correct formatting are the most important factors for successful supplier document management.

A few other key takeaways…

• Fewer than 20% of suppliers reported having dedicated document control resources; The rest rely on project managers or technical resources to perform this work as required. We expect that the more technical a resource, the less time they can commit to document control.

We often speak with companies who require project managers or clerical staff to handle document control work rather than hiring dedicated document controllers. What sort of message does this say to your EPC customers when 80% of them state that data validation and correct formatting are important to them and you put this work in the hands of someone who isn’t specifically dedicated to this task?

• To manage data and documents, 75% of EPC respondents use an Electronic Document Management System (EDMS). However, only 2% of suppliers currently have an EDMS in place. Instead, they create and manage their documents using spreadsheets and pdf tools, leading to errors and rework.

Many companies we speak with still use Microsoft Excel and other non-document control specific apps even though they don’t offer any of the things that document control requires and that DocBoss offers ie. cover page customization, databook creation, packaging of submittals, revision history, user controls, detailed reporting, etc.

• Almost all suppliers surveyed – a full 90% – reported using email regularly to send and track transmittals. By contrast, 49% of EPCs declared this to be their preference.

Using an EDMS allows detailed tracking for documents. Email for transmittal management has some significant drawbacks: searching to track down submissions; weak audit trails; and non-deterministic delivery (you don’t know if it was received). Interestingly, the majority of EPC respondents (68%) expressed a willingness to log into a vendor system to receive submissions.

• The most experienced supplier document control experts seem to have access to an EDMS at their workplace. In fact, supplier document controllers with more than five years’ experience were three times as likely to be an EDMS user.

But as mentioned above, the majority of suppliers don’t have an EDMS in place and many continue to use outdated apps like Excel.

A question to consider: Do more experienced document controllers demand more sophisticated systems, or are these skilled people gravitating to companies that already have better tools in place?