Engineer at a desk with documents and document management software, illustrating document control in practice.

What Is Document Control?

Document control refers to the process of managing documents within an organization in a systematic and organized manner. It involves creating, storing, organizing, tracking, and distributing documents to ensure that the right version of a document is available to the right people at the right time.

Document control is vital for maintaining consistency, accuracy, and compliance with regulations and standards. To ensure the safety of your employees, enable collaboration, and maintain compliance with regulations, your employees and external contractors need to work from the most accurate and up-to-date documents.

However, with multiple teams working on these documents simultaneously, it can pose a challenge. By creating a centralized repository and following document control best practices, you can make a single source of truth for your employees and partners while remaining compliant with local and national regulations.

Defining document control: Managing documents systematically — creating, storing, organizing, tracking, and distributing.


What Are the Key Components of Document Control?

Document control involves processes, technology, and oversight to ensure documents are versioned appropriately and accessible to only those who need them. In addition to finding the right document control technology for your organization, your team will need to develop guidelines for every stage of the document lifecycle from creation to disposal.

These guidelines will ensure best practices are followed when creating, storing, editing, and deleting internal and external documents. Though document control programs may look different from organization to organization, here are a few things to keep in mind when building a document control program.

  • Create document templates: For consistent formatting and content, create templates and guidelines for each type of document your business uses regularly.
  • Develop a clear labeling system: To easily find and track documents, create a document identification system and name each document according to those guidelines. 
  • Invest in a document storage system: To ensure easy access and control versioning, create a central repository where all documents are stored.
  • Create version control guidelines: One of the most important elements of a document control system is a version tracking system. This allows stakeholders to review and track revisions and ensures everyone is working from the most current versions of documents. 
  • Consider review workflows: When multiple departments are reviewing and working with the same documents, you’ll need to establish a standard workflow for reviewing and approving documents.
  • Set document access controls: Using document management software, ensure that authorized personnel can access documents efficiently while safeguarding sensitive or confidential information from unauthorized personnel and bad actors.
  • Develop a disposal process: Establish guidelines for document retention periods and create proper disposal methods to comply with legal and regulatory requirements.

With the right tools, it’s easy to ensure documents are handled appropriately at each stage in the document lifecycle. Once your document repository is set up, be sure to educate your teams on document control best practices and company-wide document-management protocols.

Document Management vs. Document Control


Document management and document control are related concepts, but they have distinct purposes. Document management refers to the overall process of handling documents throughout their lifecycle.

The primary goal of document management is to ensure documents are organized, secure, and easily accessible to authorized users. It involves both physical and digital documents and covers a broad range of activities, including indexing, search capabilities, and collaboration features. Document management systems (DMS) are often used to streamline these processes.

Document control, on the other hand, is a specific subset of document management and focuses on the management of critical documents that impact an organization's processes, compliance, and quality management. Document control involves the creation, review, approval, distribution, and disposal of documents, and emphasizes the need for version control, change management, and strict adherence to regulatory requirements and industry standards.

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What Industries Can Benefit From a Document Control System?

A document control system can benefit various industries, especially those that deal with complex processes, strict regulatory requirements, and large volumes of documentation. Here are some industries that can significantly benefit from implementing a document control system:

  1. Healthcare

Hospitals, clinics, and healthcare organizations deal with numerous patient records, medical reports, and compliance-related documents. A document control system ensures accurate documentation, patient confidentiality, and adherence to healthcare regulations.

  2. Manufacturing

Manufacturing companies often have extensive documentation related to product specifications, quality control procedures, safety protocols, and supply chain management. A document control system helps maintain consistency, traceability, and compliance with industry standards.

  3. Engineering and Construction

Engineering firms and construction companies handle blueprints, technical drawings, design documents, and safety guidelines. A document control system streamlines collaboration among project teams and ensures everyone is working with the latest versions.

  4. Pharmaceuticals

Pharmaceutical companies must adhere to strict regulations and maintain comprehensive documentation throughout drug development, clinical trials, and production processes. A document control system helps manage and track these critical documents efficiently.

  5. Aerospace and Defense

This industry requires meticulous documentation for design specifications, safety procedures, maintenance records, and compliance with aviation regulations. A document control system helps ensure compliance and safety standards are consistently met.

  6. Finance and Banking

Financial institutions deal with vast amounts of sensitive data, legal contracts, compliance documents, and customer records. A document control system enhances security and facilitates audits and regulatory compliance.

  7. Information Technology

IT companies benefit from document control systems for managing software development documentation, project plans, coding standards, and change management processes.

  8. Energy and Utilities

The energy sector involves intricate documentation for environmental regulations, safety protocols, and engineering designs. A document control system helps maintain operational efficiency and regulatory compliance.

  9. Legal and Professional Services

Law firms and professional service providers deal with a vast array of legal documents, contracts, and client records. A document control system helps organize and manage these documents efficiently.

  10. Government and Public Sector

Government agencies and public sector organizations handle a wide range of administrative, legislative, and regulatory documents. A document control system ensures transparency, accountability, and adherence to legal requirements.

In general, any organization that deals with significant amounts of information and documentation can benefit from implementing a document control system. Such a system not only enhances efficiency and accuracy but also supports compliance with industry standards and regulatory bodies. It reduces the risk of errors, improves collaboration among teams, and facilitates seamless access to essential documents when needed.

A factory worker sits at a desk managing document control, surrounded by paperwork and files, with a computer screen in front.

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When Should I Implement a Document Control System?

Effective document control is essential for maintaining the integrity of information, minimizing errors, ensuring compliance, and supporting efficient workflows within an organization. It is particularly critical in industries with strict regulatory requirements, such as healthcare, finance, manufacturing, and engineering.

Any business looking to streamline and automate document management processes to make them more efficient and less error-prone can benefit from a document control system.

Document Control Made Simple With Meridian by Accruent


Meridian is a powerful solution designed to streamline and optimize the entire lifecycle of engineering documents and asset information. With Meridian, organizations can efficiently manage, track, and control critical documents, ensuring version control, adherence to industry standards, and regulatory compliance.

Meridian’s intuitive interface facilitates easy collaboration and document retrieval, enabling teams to work seamlessly together. It offers robust security features, allowing for controlled access to sensitive information.

Meridian Safety

Whether used in engineering, construction, or other industries, Meridian empowers businesses to enhance productivity, minimize errors, and make informed decisions based on accurate and up-to-date document data. Learn more about our top-rated document management software or watch a demo today.