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Finedata Limited - Document Control Tutorial

Lesson 10 - Distributing Documents: Distribution Sheets and Transmittal Notes.

Historically, documents for construction projects have been issued with what is called a 'distribution sheet'. This document is used less and less these days, as there are fewer people able to read them - and even fewer who can create them - than there used to be.

Click here to see an example of a distribution sheet.

Most computerised document control systems do not produce distribution sheets, although document controllers working with spreadsheets can usually create a reasonable facsimile. Those that do will generally take some time to create them.

The alternative transmittal that most document control system produce takes the form of a letter. There is generally an address section at the top, with various reference numbers and a date of issue, followed by a short piece of introductory narrative. This narrative might take the form 'Dear Sirs, please find enclosed the documents listed below...'. After the introduction section the transmittal will include a list of documents, often sorted into document number order and grouped together by the originators. The list of documents will often be followed by a closing piece of narrative which might take the form 'Please acknowledge receipt...' or 'Please return with comments...'.

Click here to see an example of a transmittal letter.

When the distribution of documents has been settled, document controllers lucky enough to have a computerised document control system are able to simply record the details and print the necessary transmittal notes. Those working with manual systems have often to either create letters for each recipient on a word processor, detailing each document, or update distribution sheets and photocopy them for each recipient.

The references that appear on document transmittal notes usually include two numbers. One provides a unique reference, usually a number, that identifies the transmittal - this reference will normally run in sequence 1,2,3 for the whole project and helps the document controller find a particular transmittal, or identify when outbound transmittals may be missing.

The second number is usually unique to the recipient of the transmittal and runs in the same sequence, but two or more recipients may have transmittal no. 86. The recipients number is intended to help them identify when a transmittal has gone missing - if they received 63 and 64 followed by 66 and 67 they might reason that number 65 has gone astray.

Some systems will generate a third number which is helpful when design teams are reviewing documents. This number would represent a 'batch' of issues, so that for example the architect could discuss documents with the structural engineer and be sure that they were discussing the same transmittal - bearing in mind that the two foregoing numbers will be different on each recipients' transmittal.

When transmittal letters have been printed, it is normal for the document controller to sign them and keep a copy of the signed originals filed by recipient - this makes it possible to find physical copies of the transmittals later, should they be needed.

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