And SAVE THOUSANDS!
`All` companies should operate a document control system because it saves time and money! Implement this system and the savings drop to the `bottom-line`.
In all organisations, document control is necessary because it helps you control the flow of documents, information and puts £`s on your `bottom-line`. In all offices, from the smallest to the largest, it is necessary to keep track of the number of documents being used. In the smallest office, the method may consist of only a periodic visual check of the document supply. In a large office that uses thousands of documents, a document control plan based on the systems family method will be needed. In a large corporation a functional file system is implemented to handle the thousands of documents that are used. Generally, the numbers of documents a company utilises determines the types of document control programmes that are employed. This system saves time, money and people utilisation and is necessary in today`s business.
Document control determines many issues including re-order points, order quantity, potential combinations, and obsolescence. An organised document control programme should meet the following objectives;
* Serve as a point of reference and an historical record that should include some method of cross-reference.
* Conform to efficient alphabetical and numerical filing principles, and
* Provide a good degree of control, yet remain as simple and effective as possible.
The major types of document control programmes used today are inventory control, systems family and functional file.
One of the most commonly used methods of document control is the inventory control system in which an inventory file is maintained for a client or by the client directly. An inventory control system is often used in the small to medium sized company that has a small number of different documents. The primary purpose of an inventory control system is to check the usage of the documents so that running out of documents does not occur. Savings of 40% + can be achieved if you implement this system.
When document warehousing is provided, inventory control is commonly part of the package. An inventory of the documents is taken periodically usually once a month and records updated at that time. Sometimes a client does the physical inventory and furnishes the figure to the document consultant so that the usage figures may be updated. The system may be manual or computerised. However, in today's world of electronic record keeping systems, it is seldom cost effective to maintain a manual system. Spreadsheet client records are kept on file so that a simple report is issued each month.
A document inventory control system helps to prevent a company from running out of documents, thereby eliminating the need for costly rush orders and special handling. An inventory control system is a good selling point to get and keep key accounts, especially when fast delivery is important. It provides economy in the production, storage, distribution and use of documents. In terms of cash outlay, this is the simplest and for many companies the most practical form of control system.
Inventory control has no built in provisions for document analysis. Instead it relies on the professionalism of the document management consultant for the document analysis and design. A one or two month cushion should be built into the document re-order lead-time so that the document can be properly analysed. The document should be evaluated every time it comes up for re-order to determine if revisions are necessary. Professional management of this function is an investment and saves many thousands of £`s that drop to the `bottom-line`.
The systems family method is an easy way to keep track of the multitude of documents used in a company. The system family has two basic functions, first to keep the document grouped for systems analysis and secondly, to assign a number to each document. It must be kept in mind that the systems family main function is to ease system analysis. The way that the systems family happens to provide document numbers is an added bonus to the system.
The system family method is based upon the basic business functions; sales, production, transport, invoicing, accounts receivable, purchasing, receiving, storing, accounts payable and accounting. Each family can be further sub divided if that family has a great deal of documents in it. For example, sales can be broken down into dealer sales, direct sales, export sales etc. A company that has a thousand documents, for instance, can develop a manageable number of files by sub dividing the categories into fifty families. Of course, the number of types of families can vary from company to company.
The most suitable numbers for this type of document control are three digit numbers that indicate the systems family. Each system family is assigned a three-digit number from 010 through to 999 in such a way that families are spread evenly throughout the series. Each document is given a number from the systems family, for example, the major headings and another three digit number from the master code within that family, for example, the sub heading.
In the systems family method, each document is numbered. The numbers serve to identify the document family. The document number is normally a three-digit number but if there are thousands more documents in a family a five-digit number is required. Since most systems can manage within a three-digit system, it is usually better to sub divide a family that has a hundred or more documents into two or three families rather than to use five or six digit numbers. The document number should always be followed by the date of the most recent revision. If no changes are made to the document when it is reprinted, the date remains unchanged. To prevent duplications a master log is made up for each family to keep track of the document family. If desired, blocks of numbers within each family can be reserved for future documents.
The analysis of a group of documents is made extremely easy with the use of a systems family method. The three-digit prefix distinguishes the entire document in one family and enables the rapid analysis of an entire system.
The systems family method is easy to learn and can be used by companies with thousands of documents. Only one folder is necessary for each document. Systems families are listed in alphabetical order and the alphabetical list is numbered, the folders are automatically in both alphabetic and numerical order. When documents are grouped by the systems family method, systems analysis is relatively easy.
Like the functional file method, the systems family method requires relatively high set up and maintenance costs. It is an alternative to a functional file system and it does have its drawbacks. One major disadvantage to the family system method is the inability to classify documents for systems that do not fit the narrow confinements of the basic business functions. There are classifications such as personnel, computer operations, reprographics, record department that are not addressed by the basic business functions and should be included in a thorough system as the only way to control the whole documents of a business is to include all departments. This is the way for full control and maximum savings.
The Functional File
Conceptually a functional file is a classification system to aid systems analysis for large quantities of documents. In the functional file system, which is also referred to as a functional index, the files are categorised by functions. In a company that has thousands of documents a thorough system is needed to keep track of all documents that are in use. The functional file is the system that allows thousands of documents to be easily referenced.
The functional file is the system in which documents are filed in two separate files, a numerical and functional file. Document number files the numerical file, which is a functional file system based upon individual preference. Alphanumeric or numerical division prefix followed by a numerical etc. The possibilities are endless. The document number is merely a method of identifying the document and is not related to a code for systems analysis.
The numerical file consists of a separate folder for each document. The folder contains a few copies of the document as well as a historical account of document revisions, comments, specifications, samples, order history and information on the departments that use the document. It helps to identify different documents that may have the same number and it simplifies a task of contacting all interested parties when a change to an existing document is proposed. The unique document number files the folders in numerical sequence. The documents are unnumbered and arbitrarily assigned a number immediately.
A functional file is created by collecting copies of all the documents used by a company for both inside and outside communications including note pads, envelopes and cheques.
A thorough document collection can readily provide the answers to many system analysis questions.
Is there a document in inventory that can be used?
If not, is there an existing document that can be modified to do the work of two?
Can this document be combined with another so that both can be completed in one?
Can readily available stock documents be used to replace a product design or low usage document?
What departments are using this document?
Is this document obsolete?
Because a functional file controls a vast number and variety of documents, the systems requires a greater amount of time, effort, resources and maintenance. It must be kept in mind that the primary purpose of the functional file is for systems analysis. The functional file makes it extremely easy to single out an entire subject for examination. However, the job of collecting and filing the documents can easily take one-person weeks or months. It is estimated that a minimum of 8 minutes is required to categorise and file each document.
Companies that have only 100 documents do not use the functional file. Instead, it is used primarily by organisations that have thousands of documents and their own documents control personnel. It is never too late nor too early for these types of companies to start a functional file. Unusually though such a file is not begun until after the need arises. For companies that have a multitude of documents a functional file is required to provide necessary systems analysis.
All work carried out on document control can be operated successfully by a specialist workflow solutions company, which will give you ` full control` and the pounds drop to the `bottom-line`.
Colin Thompson was presented by the DTI an award for Information and Manufacturing Technology for his contribution to innovation and new systems.
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About the Author Colin Thompson
Colin is a former successful Managing Director of Transactional/Print Manufacturing Plants, Print Management/Workflow Solutions companies and other organisations, former Group Chairman of the Academy for Chief Executives and Non-Executive Director, helping companies raise their `bottom-line` and `increase cashflow`. Plus, helping individuals to be successful in business and life in general. Author of several publications, research reports, guides, business and educational models on CD-ROM/Software/PDF and over 400 articles published on business and educational subjects worldwide. Plus, International Speaker and Visiting University Professor.
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