SharePoint as Document Control?

Currently, we're using a system that was built some +30 years ago for doc control and our company has tasked me with trying to figure out how to move away from that system.

My external auditor has recommended I look into using SharePoint to handle our Document Control needs. Does anyone have any experience with this? Does it have the ability to show when a document needs to be reviewed according to whatever review period we set?

Any advice or recommendations would be greatly appreciated.

28 Replies
Trish Borzon
1374 Posts

Hi again @Sergio Corral

Wow - 30 years! You may find this discussion useful - although it doesn't specifically get into the use of SharePoint

Tagging a few members who might have some insights - @Christianna Hayes , @Duke Okes , @William Casti , @Janet Lentz

@Christopher Tait - What did you end up using as your document control system?

Thanks all!

Trish

Janet Lentz
90 Posts

At one point I used a software called Intelex that did a credible job managing documents, corrective actions and other quality functions. The downside is it takes a considerable amount of training for everyone to use it. To be honest, the easiest thing I’ve used is just a secured network of folders. No real training involved.

Hi Trish,

Choosing a document control system has been on the backburner for almost 2 years now, ever since our company shifted to having the majority of employees work from home due to COVID. There was talk of using a Wiki or creating our own doc control system, but nothing concrete has been set out. I can tell you that we did consider SharePoint but our company's IT department stated that it was not compatible with our systems.

Trish Borzon
1374 Posts

@Christopher Tait - Thanks for the update. Covid certainly made an impact on Everything!

@Janet Lentz Thank you for thoughts. That is actually the technique that I used at my previous employer and it worked beautifully since our QMS was listed to just that facility. But there is no build-in reminder that a document is expiring using shared folders. This is a very handy feature that I'd like to keep from our current system.

With regards to Intelex, I actually saw a demo for their QMS solution and was impressed with it. Was the training issue related to all users or for the Document Controllers?

Using Sharepoint as Document control. See

@Christopher Tait Thank you for your input. We got a ridiculously high quote from a company that could build a SharePoint based system and with our required workflow for us. So I'm wondering if those that currently use SharePoint for Document Control, was it worth it. Almost seems like for that cost I could purchase a standalone, internet base solution product that would do all that is needed for Document Control.

@Trish Borzon Surprisingly, the system work great! But it no longer has any developer support and we're paying a premium to consultants to keep the whole system working. So we're trying to actively migrate our systems away from it.

Janet Lentz
90 Posts

Intensive training for administrators, and other training for users. We had a lot of users, so it was a lot of training. Intelex has some perks like email reminds and escalation to bosses if someone is late responding.

John Ellis
1 Posts

I don't believe that SharePoint is appropriate for legally acceptable document control. Before I retired last year, I managed the implementation and conversion of paper, spreadsheet, shared folder and a file-based storage structure to a matter-based storage structure. While initially targeted to the Legal Dept it spread to supply chain, policies, planned for HR, etc. I would be happy to talk with you about my experience. Some suggested starting points:

  1. Check with your legal department. They may have a robust system you can piggyback on.
  2. For migration from one platform to another look for help. We used RBRO. A Canadian company that was very good and very patient (we had a lot of challenges from years of bad practices).
  3. For workflow get an add-on to the DMS. Many are hard to work with. We used DocMinder. Pretty easy to use, has a separate admin structure so you can partition workflow ownership to different departments, functions, etc.

Our DMS was iManage which allowed controlled sharing with people outside of the company, e.g. customer legal review, NDA, contract forms, supply chain evaluations, NDAA 889, etc.

John

Simple answer. Yes. My company uses it with great success. Just have to ensure your permissions are set accordingly for users and that your SharePoint designer sets up automated reminders and workflow functions.

Hi Sergio,

There are great answers here.

But I was recently appointed to update the “Document control” from old software called MQ1 to IsoVision. I believe both are great but when it comes to MQ1 is a bit old-looking and not in any way user-friendly. IsoVision is great too.

But I am also in support of using SharePoint because why not use the already available to all. If you have anyone who knows how to build a database using MS Access, I am working on a project involving MS Access to track the “Production Holds / QA Holds". And I have reasons to believe Access can handle Document Controls too.

I have been involved in using SharePoint for document control since 2003. If your organization has it and you have someone who knows how to use it, it is very simple to set it up for document control unless you are doing something out of the ordinary. Once you get the basics down, it is not hard to administer the document control processes and procedures. As in anything, identify your organization's requirements and see if your SharePoint can support them. If it does, all it takes is a little training, which is certainly less expensive than buying a commercial solution (which very well maybe built on SharePoint). You can set alerts for change notices and develop a workflow which can help you set a review cycle.

I work for a Civil Engineering and Land Surveying firm and we are currently developing SharePoint for document control. I find it easy to use and not overly technical to implement. Also, the tools to manage document control are easy to design. The challenge with SharePoint is that it's a blank slate and there is some front end work that needs to be done. This is especially true of the relationships between departments/functions and security levels. Mapping the relationships is not technical, in my opinion, but does require understanding how SharePoint works--especially SharePoint “sites”, “document libraries”, and what they call “lists”. In short, SharePoint requires understanding the basics of the system, then front end planning (not technical), and finally implementation (somewhat technical, but can be done by the average person willing to learn).

Sergio, we use SharePoint to manage our controlled documentation. It works great - especially having the ability to set security at different levels and down to the document itself if needed. When you create document libraries you can add any column that you need to help you manage it such as the effective date and the next review date (based on what your requirements are). We are very happy with it. It is easy to learn and to use.

We use Qualtrax for the document control and it does a lot more than document control - tracking training, giving tests, workflows and more. It has a learning curve for the admin who needs to be computer literate, but a low learning curve for the user.

Hi @Sergio Corral

Im working in aviation industry and we used Qpulse to manage and control our audit program and document control. I can only guess the main driver of using Q-pulse is to align with our regulators to simplify our transaction. The good feature about is the alert mechanism to prompt stakeholder to take action whether responding on audit findings or approving/rejecting the documents/forms. We also used secured sharepoint as storage of common folders and to track our memos and external correspondences. So far we are not aware of its alert features.

Alternatively, you may also explore Document Control software of ETQ. https://www.etq.com/document-control/

All the best.

-Cyrus

Exactly. Some of the companies promoting doc control software that I looked at required extensive training and allowing their reps to have access to our IT systems, which I knew wouldn't fly with our IT Security people (and it didn't). Not to mention the cost. We found a few lower-priced options but they didn't have everything we were looking for. Perhaps in the fall, if we're all back in the office, we'll explore those options again, but as of now, it's on hold for us.

Hi Sergio!

We have used SharePoint for quite some time and it works well for us, but does require a little diligence. If I had the option to change/ purchase a new document control system software, I would look into QualTrax. Not sure what your compliance needs are, but they cater to ISO 17025 certification.

Hi Sergio, if You are looking to control all documents at your facility, SharePoint is ok, but I’d recommend something like Qualtrax or Master Control. They are 21 CFR Part 11 compliant if that’s key to your business. If not, they still offer some tracking and reporting capabilities that SharePoint doesn’t. Cheers