Previously I have never seen the need to enforce a "revise by" date or to set an expiration date on documents in the management system. I am now at a new company, and I have started work on introducing a management system (the reason I have been hired), and management here is already requesting that we enforce a strict policy of expiration dates on all documents in the management system.
I would like to hear your experiences and recommendations on this. Thanks!
In this context, I would like the impartial, professional opinion about the document control practices within ASQ. If you examine the processes at this location, you will find some that have not been updated since 1997. I personally think that 21 years is too long to leave a policy or procedure unchanged, particularly if there have been several significant organizational changes.
like everything, this should be based on risk. A master production record is on a different cycle than a component specification. The 3-5 year range mentioned by others is fairly standard.
I think now that I will setup a system where I set a default "life span" of a revision to three years, and update this at every revision,. I'll leave this date as a hidden metadata only available to the document owner, process owner and myself.
Then I'll set up a monitoring process and a document report listing the current status, with warnings on anything nearing end of life (let's say three months or less).
It appears that you have received sufficient inputs for your decision. That's great and I want to offer one more piece of suggestions.
The "revise by" or "expiration" date by itself does not generate enough benefits. The practice I had in our organization/corporation is driving that dates with the internal audit program. Our idea on the quality document itself is "procedures are the documentation of the best practices known during that period of time". The focus shall be on the validity of the best practice itself. Therefore, the document has no need to be revised if we have proven it is fit with the purpose.
As you can see, the key point is on auditing the processes to see if it still meet the needs or requirements. Procedures are the complementary elements for the program, not the focus. The "revise by" date is in fact the due date of internal audit program of each procedures. I have seen many companies taken the "don't fix if it ain't broke" approach, but if there is a lack of structured internal audit program then how would we know if it is broke?
My encouragement is thinking about what a "revise by" date is for. We quality managers sometime think we know all the processes and chosen to "review" the procedures on our own which is a bad practice. My lesson learned is that a robust internal audit program is a critical
driver to ensure Quality Management System to be trusted by all functions.
Hope my suggestion is beneficial and Happy New Year!
Kaiwen Cheng, Owner, KC Business Consulting, LLC
thank you, I fully agree. When I wrote "internal reviews" in my previous post, I did actually mean to write "internal audits". You did described it more eloquently than I did though.
Happy new year!
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