Give Thanks for Better Document Control


It’s that time of year again. Time to prepare for the most stressful meal of the year. There are multiple things that make Thanksgiving stressful. Relatives and food immediately come to mind. While the traditional Thanksgiving meal is delicious, it’s also a hassle. The turkey itself is hours of work, not to mention trying to ensure the green bean casserole, stuffing, and sweet potatoes are piping hot and ready at the same time.

The level of orchestration required to pull this off is ridiculous. Fortunately, quality managers are well prepared for Thanksgiving dinner from years of documentation management. The quality manager, or whoever in your organization is in charge of documentation, doesn’t just have to get documents through the approval pipeline, he or she has to ensure they’re accurate, compliant and up to date. While we can’t make it easier to manage a successful Thanksgiving, there are ways to simplify your document management using artificial intelligence (AI) and advanced analytics.

Who Bottlenecks Your Documents?

It’s pretty easy to tell who’s holding things up in your kitchen. Children are probably running through, your mother-in-law is comparing her recipe to yours, and you forgot to pick up evaporated milk for the pumpkin pie. It’s more difficult to pinpoint the culprit when it’s a document workflow that’s lagging behind. Even if you have document control software, getting a simple overview of who’s holding up the process is hard. Consolidated data and dashboards can give you a high-level overview of where your documents are and where they’re being delayed.

What’s Going on With Documents?

Quality control in the kitchen comes down to constantly checking every dish to make sure it doesn’t get overcooked. Or boil over. Or catch on fire in the oven. Even for such a big meal, hands-on quality control is still manageable. But document control in a life sciences organization is more complex. Now you can get a comprehensive overlook of what’s going on with all of your documents. That includes how many are in each stage of the life cycle, which documents are stalled, and how many are overdue. All of this information is available from a single application, which means there’s no manually compiling data. With this level of visibility, users can be proactive in their document management and see what’s coming due and how many documents will be coming up for approval soon.

How Long Does Each Step Take?

Getting everything on the table at the same time is difficult, but at least recipes always tell you how long it’ll take to prepare and cook something. Even the time for the turkey can be calculated using its weight. Things aren’t quite that straightforward in document management. Most document management systems offer limited or no information on how long it typically takes for a document to be approved. With all your data connected, you can be more efficient by knowing instead of guessing the timelines involved. This helps you plan, but it also tells you where you need to focus your efforts. If too much time is being spent on a certain step, you can drill down to see if there’s anything in common among the documents that take longer. For example, maybe the same person takes longer on that step for some reason or a specific department’s documents take longer to review.


Visibility is the key to improvement when it comes to document management. Just like the typical Thanksgiving dinner, there are too many moving parts with document control to effectively manage anything without digital help. Connected quality data is so important because it gives you that help. If you don’t have all your data together, you can’t accurately track your documents, see where they’re getting held up, or know how long it takes a document to make its way through the process.


Sarah Beale is a content marketing specialist at MasterControl in Salt Lake City, where she writes white papers, web pages, and is a frequent contributor to the company’s blog, GxP Lifeline. Beale has been writing about the life sciences and health care for over five years. Prior to joining MasterControl she worked for a nutraceutical company in Salt Lake City and before that she worked for a third-party health care administrator in Chicago. She has a bachelor’s degree in English from Brigham Young University and a master’s degree in business administration from DeVry University.

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