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Finedata Limited - Document Control Tutorial

Lesson 6 - Receiving Documents - Actions before Registering them.

Whenever new documents, or revisions of old ones, are received they must be registered, as stated in earlier lessons this is often done with a computer system of some kind - or by hand on distribution sheets, in a log or notebook.

The registration process must follow a simple routine in order that documents are recorded accurately and consistently. Generally, new documents are gathered together and compared with any documentation accompanying them. Typically most documents are submitted together with some form of issue letter, often referred to as a transmittal note.

The transmittal note will generally have a reference number of some kind on it. This will need to be noted, so that any enquiries from the originator can be answered later.

Where the document originator omits a reference number of their own, it is normal practice for document controllers to put a number of their own on the incoming transmittal note. This might be just the initials of the company submitting the documents followed by a sequential number, or the date and a sequential number.

This may seem a trivial activity, but using a series of reference numbers for each transmittal makes them easier to find later. When all the documents on the transmittal have been registered, the incoming transmittal note is often filed away - along with other ones from the same source.

Having established a reference for the incoming transmittal, the documents are checked against it. At this point the document controller is looking for a number of things:

  • Missing documents and documents not listed.
  • Incorrectly numbered documents or documents without numbers.
  • Incorrect revision numbers.
  • Damaged documents which might be difficult to copy.
It should be clear from previous lessons why some of the above are important, in most cases common sense dictates the action to be taken for each situation.

In nearly every case an experienced document controller will contact the originator and advise them of the problem and request either documents are submitted, the transmittal updated or a new set of documents and transmittal be generated by the originator. Clearly, it is not always easy to get document originators to revise documents or resubmit them when there are cost implications. This is particularly so when the originator feels the problem is petty or trivial, the document controller will need to strike a balance between the needs of the project and the ability to encourage document originators to adopt more rigorous practices.

When any issues with the documents themselves and the transmittal that accompanied them have been resolved, they can be registered.

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