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Hidden Challenges of Document Management

Hoping to find a software tool to help you with your business’s document control needs, particularly those driven by a compliance framework? How familiar do these pain points sound?

“If we even have a centralized repository, it’s not secure—it’s just a folder on the network. Besides, there’s little to no visibility into the changes made and approval records of those files. If that’s not enough, once updates are made, it’s a very manually intensive process to get that information to the staff who need it. It’s going to be a nightmare getting all this fixed in time for the upcoming audit with limited resources we have.”

Fast forward to a few months after you’ve purchased and implemented the solution to address these issues. It’s ultimately helped you meet your compliance requirements, and you’ve just passed your first audit with the new system in place. Congratulations! Everyone from the Executive Leadership to the Compliance team is happy and relieved you’ve made the right investment. This is what software is supposed to do—make your life easier.

So take a breath. You certainly deserve it. But don’t get too complacent…

I’d like to highlight a few often-overlooked challenges with maintaining the typical document management system.
It was most likely several weeks’ worth of work just getting all of your documentation into the software solution. In doing so, you probably took the opportunity to finally get all the various versions of a given procedure consolidated and merged into one unified version; after all, that’s one of the key reasons you needed a software solution. During this effort, you had to make these updated versions conform to some basic requirements: each page needing to display Title, Revision #, and Publication Date, at the very least.

Header and Footer Details Necessary for Compliance

Ideally, your software solution may even ensure these areas are automatically updated as each document is edited with each revision, eliminating the biggest risk of all—human error.

If you’ve gone through the process of consolidating and applying uniformity to your compliance documentation before, you’ll agree this is no minor effort. Just copying a header, footer, and the macros that manage updating their variables from a compliant template into each document that needs them probably takes on average 60 seconds per document. When extrapolated for a typical business, this may cost you $.42 per document (assuming a $25/hour rate), which means:

  • 1000 documents costs $420 or ~17 hours of labor
  • 2500 documents costs $1050 or ~42 hours of labor

Most businesses probably value the labor hours more than the cash costs, since it’s typically the Quality or Compliance staff tasked with making these updates. How many hats do these folks typically wear already? Can they spare a week or more of their time to prepare this documentation?

OK, so you’ve sunk this initial cost and time into getting your system up and all documentation in the necessary order, matching your compliant templates. Now consider what happens if you overlooked including a critical piece of data in the footer, like the Editor’s name. What if a typo was made or your company’s logo simply changed? Do you once again sink a ton of time into manually updating all your files? Do you update them one by one as you perform your annual reviews? Two painful options.

Many choose to apply the update all at once, meaning each file needs to be edited manually and republished. This most likely means requiring approvals for each document all over again. Remember how hard it was to get everything approved the first time? On the other hand, choosing to update each document during its review period means you’re relying on all your document editors to remember to make the necessary change. Chances are their focus is on the content itself, not the surrounding header and footer areas. Again, risky.

As you can see, proper ongoing maintenance of a document control system may be far more work than it initially seems. Too often these hidden costs aren’t considered when purchasing a compliance management tool. They should. Plan to make updates like this at least once a year, if not more frequently.

To address these concealed, but no less inevitable costs, Qualtrax offers some unique solutions.

During implementation of the Qualtrax compliance management system, our team not only helps you create the desired templates to match compliance and business requirements, for things like header, footer, and logo information, but we also equip you to quickly mass import them into the document control module. Pretty standard software offerings. But once they’re imported, you can now take advantage of our Header Footer Updater tool to apply a given template to all of your documents in a matter of clicks.

Using this feature, you simply select your template that includes the new logo or updated footer information, then choose an entire folders’ worth of documents or specific documents to apply it to. Click Go and it’s off and running. The Header Footer Updater then copies the header, footer, and any background macros from the template and overwrites the existing header, footer, and macros in the targeted documents, mimicking the same steps you’d normally have to manually perform. Thus you can accomplish in a matter of minutes what would otherwise take you a week or more.

As shown below, full audit trail history is included in this operation and you can even choose to increase the revision number on the targeted documents or leave it at its current version number in cases where the update is determined to be a minor update. As with any kind of revision, Qualtrax always retains all previous versions for reference. What’s more, tasking individuals with re-approving the documents are not required either.

Audit Record of Header Footer Update

Keep exploring how Qualtrax can help your accreditation process.

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