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Finedata Limited - Document Control Tutorial

Lesson 2 - More About Documents

Almost anything can be a document, on a construction project the most common documents are:
  • Drawings -These could range from simple sketches to complex process flow diagrams often as not these days drawings are produced on CAD machines.
  • Specifications - These are often word processed documents which contain a description of works being undertaken and may well include extracts from other third party documentation such as manuals and literature.
  • Method Statements - These are also often word processed documents which detail the manner in which work is intended to be carried out. Method statements are often related to safety issues, or potential safety issues, such as the erection of scaffolding or removal of hazardous waste.
  • Samples - These range from swatches of carpet to desks and fenestration. Samples should not be left out of the document control process. Whilst it will be difficult to distribute a desk submitted for approval, it is quite possible to create a 'sample submission sheet' and record the details on that.

There are some things which all documents have in common.
  • Originator - All documents have to come from somewhere, or someone.
  • Document Number - In order to track documents effectively, the originator must provide a unique document number for each one. If none is given it is nigh on impossible to manage document revisions. Where document controllers are using computer systems to register documents, care must be taken to be ensure that document numbers follow a consistent approach. Where, for example, the document originator has used both forward '/' and back '\' slashes in their document numbers, it would be sensible for the document controller to stick with just the one version. Care should also be take to look at number series - if documents 1 - 10 are received, it is normal to record the first ninety-nine as 001, 002 etc... this helps computers 'sort' document numbers into a sensible order.
  • Revision Number - Whenever the originator of a document changes its content, or often the reason for issuing it, a new revision number must be given to the document. This process is often referred to as 'reving up' a document. Where an originator does not 'rev-up' a document when it has been modified, it becomes impossible to be sure that the latest version is issued. Unfortunately, the sequence of revision numbers very rarely follows a nice simple alphabetical order! Sometimes, where a document is new, unmodified, it is acceptable to receive it without a revision number - document controllers often then use a single dash '-' to denote 'no revision', it is important not to leave the revision as a blank entry in any register as it is ambiguous - similarly for unmodified documents it is better to adopt a notation which is unlikely to be used by document originators as the first revision in their sequence (using a letter such as 'A' would be poor planning').
  • Document Title - All documents must have some kind of a title to assist in finding it later and differentiating between different documents.
  • Date Received - It is very important to record the dates documents are received on, sometimes the late issue of documentation can be the cause of a claim later in a project.
  • Reason for Issue - Clearly documents are not normally sent out for no reason at all, although it may seem that way, the reason for issuing a document is often the basis for distribution. For example a document issued by an engineer 'For Comment' might be distributed 'For Review'.
  • Document Size - While not as important as the foregoing, the size of a document has a bearing on where it is stored, how it is distributed and the way in which information may be taken off it (i.e. is it to scale). Typically copies of A0, A1 and A2 size drawings are held on racks (sometimes known as sticks). A3 and A4 documents may be held in ring binders.
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