Three Questions about Document Control for SMBs



What is document control?

Document Control is an essential subset of ECM that doesn’t get much coverage. Despite being a vital practice to ensure documents are complete, up-to-date, and accurate, it tends to be practiced by organizations that don’t need complex, formal records management or have to meet byzantine regulatory mandates. Experts consider document control a foundation for building essential compliance, accuracy, transparency, and efficiency. Document control can manage changes to documents such as project plans, design documents, or specifications. It can also handle changes to other files such as images, videos, audio files, or code. Here are some example activities performed in a document control practice:

  • Develop procedural SOPs intended to oversee the creation, review, approval, release, distribution, access, storage, security, and disposal of documents.

  • Create document status reporting, including versioning who edited, creation date, last revised on, and which transmittal the document was sent to.

  • Document control includes preparing and managing documents in a timely and efficient manner. In addition, control activities include the numbering, sorting, filing, storing, and retrieving electronic and hard copy documents generated within an organization.

What does an organization need to practice document control?

Practicing document control requires the same framework that enterprise content management programs must have: people, process, policies, and technology‒only to a lesser degree. Organizations that don’t need formal records management or do not operate in a highly regulated environment are likely to choose a document control approach rather than hire a records manager and create a compliance department.


The first step of document control is assigning a document controller. This is a single individual with some management responsibility, such as an office manager or the person in charge of marketing. Document controllers are responsible for preparing and managing documents promptly and efficiently. They are responsible for the numbering, sorting, filing, storing, and retrieving electronic and hard copy documents. They need some understanding of organizational processes and copywriting and editing skills.


Your controller should assemble stakeholders (HR, Marketing, Legal, Operations, etc.) and develop policies and processes for document approval. Here are some examples of what those should include:

  • Maintain document security

  • Version control

  • Document Review

  • Developing and maintaining an approval process

  • Regulating document submission

Finally, you’ll need an ECM system like Laserfiche to store your electronic files. Many, many organizations rely on Laserfiche to control documents within their departments. A purpose-built ECM system can manage and controls the whole document lifecycle.


Document Control vs. Document Management: Which is more important?

Remember that document control is a subset of document management (which is a subset of ECM), which is the macro concept for a variety of additional activities you might do with a document. Laserfiche features the ability to use both approaches simultaneously since it allows you to control every activity on the document while also managing the flow of documents from creation thru disposition. The ability to know all activities related to a document, such as who viewed the document, edits, creation date, last edited on, which transmittal the document was sent to, etc., is one of the most important features that most document controllers look for in document management technology. Management and control go hand in hand. When users collaborate on a document, they must have access to it. When workers share a contract and receive it back from the customer, the signed version must be securely stored or archived.












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