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Finedata Limited - Document Control Tutorial

Lesson 8 - Distributing Documents.

Once documents are received, they will normally need to be issued. Indeed many computerised document control systems will not allow users to do anything else until newly receieved documents have been issued. Document controllers often work around this by issuing the documents to themselves.

There are a few things to consider when issuing or distributing documents:

  • Who needs to have them.
  • Why do they need them.
  • How many copies and what size of copy do they need.
The 'Who' question may or may not fall to the document controller to decide. Some distribution becomes almost automatic, for example nearly all architects documents are sent out to nearly all trade contractors - each possibly for different reasons.

Often projects will develop a matrix of document types and sources and then who should receive copies. For example, electrical drawings from the design team need to be sent to the electrical contractor for construction, the mechanical contractor for information, and method statements from the scaffolders documents may need to go to the safety department for approval. The design team will often note the anticipated recipients of documents on their incoming transmittals, which is helpful - but not always comprehensive - and may miss out a projects 'internal' requirements such as safety and cost control departments.

There are a couple of other considerations regarding the 'Who' question, a document controller will probably send new revisions of documents to nearly everyone who received the previous ones and the exceptions to this rule being that there is no point in continuing to send documents to contractors who have finished their work - or to tenderers who did not win work. there are a few really useful things which often considered optional:

With regard to the 'Why', this will generally be decided by a matrix, sometimes by the design teams' incoming transmittal. Often documents received 'For Construction' are issued for the same reason, sometimes internal departments may only receive documents 'For Information'. Documents submitted 'For Approval' will normally only be issued under the same reason or a lessor one (such as 'For Information') until they have been approved. Where documents are issued 'For Approval' it is generally quite important for a co-ordinator to be nominated, often referred to as the 'Lead Reviewer', to gather responses and form the concensus view as to the documents status. Clearly, all the reviewers need to be aware of who the lead reviewer is, when they need to respond by and who the other reviewers are (so they can discuss the documents).

The question of how many copies and of what size each recipient expects will vary from project to project. Some recipients may have a contractual basis for expecting two or three copies of everything sent to them, or may need two full size copies at A1 and one reduced (sometimes called a 'shotdown') to A3.

A document controller has a duty to send out the right number of copies, but always to try and minimise them - as the cost of copying documents can become excessive. Minimising the number of copies and keeping a watchful eye on the list of recipients to see if any can be dropped because their work is completed is an important part of the document controllers job.

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