As discussed earlier, integrity of our documents is important for many reasons. Reviews and updates might make changes to a specification for example that might correct an otherwise erroneous set of instructions, calibration or other data. It is therefore important that people who use the documents we control have access to the most current version before using the document. For those projects where the people using the project documents we control can easily access them electronically, there are solutions available today. Remote communications continue to become more widely spread across project locations and we continue to find more ways where technology can help us. Not intended as statements of endorsement but rather as examples only, let’s touch on a couple of these solutions.
Electronic Document Management Systems (EDMS) go a long way to becoming the ‘home’ for our documents. If we were able to imprint a QR code on a document before logging it into the system, we might be on our way to solving part of our document integrity problem. This was the case in our recent article about the Costain-Laing O’Rourke Joint Venture organization when they were doing work for the London Underground transit system. When someone onsite had only a paper copy of a document scanned the QR code on it, she linked to an external website connected to an EDMS. The system sent a message back to her phone in either green or red text. Green text confirmed that the document was the most current version, while a red text message warned that her document is outdated and the user must obtain a more recent version.
A new product called “Tag My Doc” from GuidingTech https://tinyurl.com/cqbm9f6 takes this a step further. Tag My Doc takes your uploaded document (a Word, PPT, PDF Document or Image File), embeds a QR Code on the document and keeps it in cloud storage. You can share the document (i.e. the virtual copy) with your intended recipients either through the website, your own smartphone, or even via a link. The recipient scans the QR Code with his mobile phone and receives a digital copy of the document on his device. Documents can be password protected from access and replaced with updated versions by authorized users.
Some Document Controllers find they might need to issue perhaps 75% of the documents they handle at least once for review. If we push the technology further, we might envision a system whereby the reviewer(s) click on the QR/barcode of a document they view electronically to log their review of it. There might be several reviewers needed for some of the documents and a process like this (with refinement), could better manage the process. Of course, we need to manage the markup changes the reviewers make to the documents. Access to controlled documents with collaborative edit options would help ensure all reviewers have an opportunity to check the document and apply their changes to it. Maybe a better title for this article might be “Are we there yet?”
These are just a couple of innovative uses of technology to address problems we all face from time to time with the use of documents we control. What do you do to mitigate the problem of people using outdated documents, or have you solved the problem entirely? If so, we’d be interested in hearing about your innovations in this area.