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How to ensure the distribution of documentation in a working group

Written by Carolina García on 24 April 2020

One of the issues that concern companies today is sharing information quickly and safely. The need to share information with external companies is frequent, as well as between different departments within the same company or between different companies that belong to the same company.

Sharing information is a crucial element in many cases for the success of a project. Especially in those of medium or high complexity in which a large number of actors interact and where the project documentation changes profoundly over time.

Many companies, faced with this problem, use online systems to store and share documents, among the most popular are Dropbox or Google Drive.

Is the use of these tools going to solve our problem? In general, the answer would be no. Having a frequent data access point does not solve all the issues related to the distribution of documentation. Although obviously, it is better to have these types of solutions than not to have them.

The first thing we need to understand is the type of problem we are facing. It is no longer just about sending documents to their recipients, but what we want is to make sure that they have received them correctly. We are looking for a solution similar to that applied in logistics. We need to be able to, at all times, follow the traceability of a package from when it left the point of origin until it has reached its destination, including where it has passed.

What we pursue is not just sending an electronic document, but making sure that it has been received.

Do document management systems allow us to solve the problem described above? Here the answer is, "it depends." In most cases, the use of document management solutions is not going to be enough; only those document management systems that have a "Transmittals module" will information we have shared.

The objective is to distribute updated information among necessary users as it appears and to have mechanisms that allow us to ensure that the documentation has been sent successfully. And, not least, to be able to demonstrate over time that that information was sent and received. This last point is of great interest when disputes and misunderstandings arise throughout the projects.

Document distribution use case

I propose an illustrative example that will help us better understand the problem and its solution.

Imagine the case of a construction company where different departments collaborate to carry out a joint project. In this type of company, the amount of documentation that is handled, such as plans, contracts, project modifications, or reports, is high and changing.

The people involved in the project must be permanently updated with the latest version of the documentation. Imagine, for example, the changes in some plans at work. This makes it essential to use a tool that allows interested persons to instantly know the existence of new documents of their interest in the preparation of their work.

The distribution of information from the document manager must be a fully controlled process. Otherwise, it may become an obstacle for the company itself. It is possible, from the manager itself, to design a specific role for the generation of shipments. This means that at all times, there is a person responsible for the information to be shared. The process of generating documentation shipments is quick and easy and offers several advantages:

  • The ease in finding the selection of documents that need to be shared.
  • Selection of previously configured recipients of shipment, including the email account to which they must be notified.
  • Simplicity in the process of creating a shipment with the documents you want to share.
  • Quick communication to stakeholders by email, allowing them to know new submission of documentation.
  • Deep control over the documentation that has been shared, at what time, and to whom.

This construction company that uses this documentation delivery system will allow all of its team to be informed instantly of any change, modification, or new additions to the execution project; that is, of any information that is relevant to the success of the project. Thus, the collaborative use of information is promoted, and we also avoid the dangerous use of obsolete documentation.

Among the essential characteristics of how information is shared by the document management system, we should highlight:

  • the possibility of sharing information with users of the application itself belonging to the same or another company. It is also important to note the possibility of sharing documents with external company personnel who do not have access to the document manager. These people receive a notification email with which, from a link, they can download the shipments they have received.
  • As well as the speed in which people involved in a project can learn of the existence of shipments of crucial documentation for the project.
  • And finally, and as the most critical feature, the traceability of the shipment made.

This traceability is a powerful control tool that offers valuable information to the company. Being able to always know at what time and who has shared information with whom it has been shared. The registration of all shipments is reflected in the system, including which documents and versions are distributed. And if the recipients have received this information correctly.

With all this, the document manager solves in a quite simple and effective way the main problems of sharing information and offering a distribution system that is characterized by being functional, fast, and safe.

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