Best practices for document control

Establishing best practices between project team members about the control and revision of documents is critical for the success of a project. Areas to focus on include the numbering, revision and status of documents, the control of transmittals, and the maintenance of a document register.

There are a few principles of good revision management that should be agreed between Customers and Suppliers:

  1. Document numbering criteria
    Very often Customers have their own document numbering system which they use consistently for all their projects. In some cases, participating organizations may combine to create a new system. Whichever way is chosen it is critical to have a clear procedure in place about the system and to ensure all parties are aware of it and use it.
  2. Revision coding system
    The most common revision systems are based on a numerical (1, 2, 3 …) or alphabetical sequence (A, B, C … AA, AB, AC …). In some cases, numbers are used for revisions up to the ‘For Construction’ issue of documents, with letters used for revisions from that point on.
  3. The revision code should continue sequentially from the first issue of a document through its entire life
    This allows all participants, including those not involved in the creation of a document, to understand how versions of documents relate to each other.
  4. Revisions must be clearly identified within a document
    It is essential for those who use a document that the revision level is clearly shown in the document itself.
  5. A document register should be made available
    What is the “correct” revision of a document? As documents are living entities, subject to frequent revisions, there is always the risk that someone accesses obsolete documents. To avoid this it is common practice to set up and keep up to date a document register containing the current revision of each document used in a project.

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