Navigating The World Of Document Control Systems: A Beginner’s Guide

Khyati Hooda
By Khyati Hooda 25 Min Read

Document control systems play a crucial role in the information management strategy of every organization. They offer a systematic method for overseeing documents from creation to disposal, guaranteeing appropriate version control, accessibility, and security measures. In today’s article, you’ll explore document control systems.

A document control system comprises a collection of processes, protocols, and tools to streamline document creation, review, approval, distribution, and retention. 

Its fundamental goal is establishing a consistent and effective approach to managing documents throughout an organization. In this article, you will learn everything about the document control systems.

What Are Document Control Systems?

A document control system aids in managing files while adhering to regulatory requirements and quality management systems for documentation, including ISO, FDA, EudraLex, and other standards.

Document control systems structure intricate operations in manual, paper-based, or automated electronic systems. They aim to enhance organizational capabilities, enabling companies to effectively organize their business operations and deliver high-quality products and services.

Document control software systems support automating paperless processes, managing quality documents such as CAPA or non-conformance reporting, and maintaining comprehensive audit trails.

A document controller is an individual tasked with managing and controlling documents within an organization. They oversee the complete lifecycle of documents, including creation, organization, distribution, and archiving.

The role of a document controller involves the timely preparation and management of documents.

Document controllers are responsible for organizing, numbering, storing, filing, and retrieving documents to support projects, departments, and organizations. Their primary focus is on ensuring accuracy and efficiency in handling controlled documents.

Document controllers frequently collaborate with diverse stakeholders, such as project managers, team members, and external parties. They aim to establish and maintain effective document management processes within the organization.

Who Needs Document Control Systems?

document control systems

Document control systems can benefit diverse organizations operating in various industries. Consider the following entities that can derive benefits from these systems:

  • Document control systems offer significant advantages to industries subject to rigorous regulatory frameworks, including healthcare, pharmaceuticals, finance, and the legal sector. These systems are instrumental in ensuring compliance with industry-specific regulations, standards, and guidelines.
  • In research-oriented organizations, document control systems play a crucial role by facilitating the management of research papers, intellectual property documents, lab reports, and experimental data. These systems are instrumental in safeguarding the integrity and security of sensitive research information.
  • Document control systems significantly benefit organizations that adhere to quality management standards like ISO 9001. These systems aid in the maintenance of current procedures, work instructions, and quality manuals, ensuring consistency and compliance with quality standards.
  • Document control systems are vital for businesses of every scale, including small startups and large corporations. These systems are instrumental in effectively managing critical documents, including contracts, policies, procedures, reports, and financial records.
  • Document control systems are crucial in industries where engineering drawings, blueprints, construction plans, and technical specifications are common. These systems promote efficient collaboration among project teams, ensuring stakeholders have access to the latest versions of documents.
  • Government departments, agencies, and public institutions handle extensive documents, encompassing policies, legislation, permits, and public records. The implementation of document control systems assists them in efficiently managing, storing, and retrieving critical information.
  • Document control systems are relied upon by project-based organizations, such as construction firms, IT companies, and consulting firms, for the management of project documentation, contracts, change orders, and project deliverables. These systems improve collaboration and streamline project execution for greater efficiency.

Need For Document Control Systems

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Compliance often takes precedence as a primary concern when exploring document control systems for industries with strict regulations. While minimizing regulatory risk is a significant advantage of document control software, it is not the sole positive outcome.

The appropriate solution can enhance information security, foster transparency, mitigate business continuity risks, and provide various other benefits:

  • Cloud-based document control software empowers real-time global collaboration among geographically dispersed teams, allowing seamless access from desktop computers or mobile devices.
  • Outdated legacy document control software and traditional paper-based approaches pose substantial risks to business continuity. In contrast, cloud-based methods provide the advantage of distributed document storage off-site, enabling organizations to recover from data security threats and ensure uninterrupted operations swiftly.
  • Implementing a document control system allows highly regulated industries to establish robust and compliant identity and access management practices.
  • Identity and access management should be critical in document control systems, safeguarding sensitive documents against unauthorized exposure. These systems should also facilitate streamlined access for authorized individuals, enabling them to efficiently search, locate, and retrieve archived and active documents when required.
  • Quality management systems ensure compliance with cGMP for standard operating procedures, organizational policies, and other critical quality processes.
  • The forefront software solutions for document control present many business advantages beyond enhanced compliance, access, and security.

Kind Of Document Control Systems You Need

To develop document control systems that align with ISO 9001 and 13485 requirements, organizations need an advanced digital toolkit that can adapt to the evolving needs of their business growth.

However, relying on paper-based systems will not enable efficient organization and automation of document control. The sheer volume and complexity of the files that must be managed will quickly become overwhelming.

Conversely, attempting to build and automate a document control system by piecing together various off-the-shelf software solutions is prone to rapid collapse into chaos.

Alternatively, some organizations may opt for a robust electronic Quality Management System commonly utilized in industries like aeronautics, pharmaceuticals, or medical technology. However, these expensive solutions may come with pre-set quality procedure templates that smaller businesses may find burdensome and limiting.

They might compel you to alter your workflow merely to appease the software provider rather than effectively meet regulatory requirements.

Best Document Control Systems In The US Market

Here are the best document control systems in the US market:

1. FileHold

document control systems

FileHold is an extensive software solution for document management, specifically created to assist organizations in effectively organizing, storing, and managing their digital documents and files.

It offers a centralized repository that ensures secure storage and easy accessibility for users, facilitating seamless collaboration and efficient workflows.

With FileHold, users can effortlessly capture documents from diverse sources like scanners, email attachments, and network folders. The software incorporates automatic indexing and metadata extraction capabilities, simplifying categorizing and searching for documents.

FileHold offers a centralized document repository that maintains files in a structured fashion. Users have the flexibility to create folders, subfolders, and categories to organize documents according to their specific needs.

2. ComplianceQuest

document control systems

ComplianceQuest is an all-encompassing software platform that operates in the cloud, empowering organizations with various tools and solutions to oversee their compliance and quality management processes efficiently.

The platform is specifically designed to assist businesses in consolidating their efforts in regulatory compliance, quality control, and risk management, harmonizing these areas into a cohesive and streamlined approach.

ComplianceQuest provides a set of modules and functionalities within its platform to effectively handle compliance with diverse industry standards, regulations, and certifications. It equips users with tools to monitor and track compliance requirements, evaluate risks, and execute corrective actions as necessary.

By utilizing ComplianceQuest, organizations can optimize the management of their compliance and quality-related documents and records. The platform facilitates various aspects such as document creation, revision control, review processes, approval workflows, and the utilization of electronic signatures.

These features guarantee document integrity and traceability throughout the compliance and quality management lifecycle.


document control systems is a flexible and user-friendly work operating system that empowers teams to collaborate, organize, and track their work efficiently.

It is a centralized platform integrating project management, task tracking, and team collaboration tools into a unified system, promoting seamless workflows and streamlined productivity.

Within the platform, teams can access document control capabilities to manage and organize their documents efficiently. provides a compliant solution for creating, managing, and sharing documents in alignment with government and industry regulations. It functions as a secure and readily accessible repository, eliminating the necessity for dispersed files across multiple systems or platforms.

Users can effortlessly collaborate with team members and stakeholders by sharing documents. This streamlined sharing process enables seamless collaboration, real-time feedback, and the ability to view, comment on, and make changes to documents directly within the platform.

4. Intellect QMS

document control systems

Intellect QMS, created by Intellect, a prominent enterprise software solutions provider, is a robust Quality Management System software. Its purpose is to assist organizations in optimizing and automating their quality management processes to ensure adherence to industry standards and regulations.

Organizations can leverage the software to effectively generate, oversee, and govern their quality-related documents, guaranteeing accurate version control, maintaining a revision history, and facilitating document distribution.

The software facilitates document creation, enables review processes, streamlines approval workflows, and allows for the inclusion of electronic signatures.

Intellect QMS aids in monitoring and handling non-conformances and deviations from established quality standards. It empowers users to initiate corrective and preventive actions, assign accountable individuals, and track the progress of these actions to ensure prompt resolution.

The Quality Suite by Intellect is a proven software solution that significantly boosts document operations and enhances overall productivity by a remarkable 90%.

5. SignDesk

document control systems

SignDesk is an internationally recognized company that offers comprehensive document automation solutions to assist businesses in resolving significant workflow optimization challenges and enhancing productivity.

SignDesk is a digital signature and document workflow automation platform that empowers organizations to simplify and streamline their document signing procedures.

It offers a secure and efficient way to sign, send, and manage documents electronically, eliminating the need for physical paperwork and manual signatures.

Users can track the progress of their documents and receive real-time notifications when a document is viewed, signed, or requires action. This improves visibility and enables timely follow-up on pending documents.

6. Dot Compliance

document control systems

Dot Compliance manages and controls documents within an organization’s compliance framework. It offers a centralized platform that effectively handles all facets of document management, guaranteeing adherence to regulations and internal policies.

Dot Compliance empowers businesses to establish, store, arrange, and version documents in a well-organized fashion.

The software provides powerful functionalities to oversee the entire lifecycle of documents, encompassing their creation, review, approval, distribution, and archival. This ensures that documents remain current, precise, and readily accessible to the appropriate stakeholders.

Within the system, users can generate new documents or import pre-existing ones. The software is compatible with various document formats and facilitates collaborative editing and review processes.

Dot Compliance keeps a comprehensive record of document versions, enabling users to monitor changes, compare different versions, and revert to previous iterations when necessary.

Document Control Systems: Features

Here are the features of document control systems:

  • Storage & organization hub – Document control systems offer a centralized storage and organization hub for documents, facilitating easy retrieval. They employ folder structures, metadata tagging, and search functionalities to streamline document organization and retrieval processes.
  • Track & manage – Version control is an essential capability that enables users to track and manage multiple document versions effectively. Maintaining document accuracy and clarity is crucial to avoiding confusion and ensuring constant access to the latest version.
  • Collaboration – Document control systems promote collaborative work by allowing multiple users to collaborate simultaneously on documents. They incorporate functionalities like document sharing, commenting, and real-time editing, fostering efficient collaboration among team members and enhancing productivity.
  • Control – Access control mechanisms provided by these systems allow for defining user roles and permissions, ensuring that authorized individuals can access or modify sensitive documents. This robust security measure safeguards data integrity and confidentiality.
  • Review – Incorporated within document control systems are workflows designed for document approval and review processes. These workflows empower users to establish review cycles, assign tasks to reviewers, and monitor the advancement of document approvals.
  • Audit trails – Document control systems uphold compliance and accountability by meticulously maintaining comprehensive audit trails and document histories. These systems meticulously record user actions such as document creation, modification, and deletion, accompanied by timestamps and user identifiers, ensuring a transparent and traceable record of activities.
  • Search – Robust search capabilities are essential for document control systems. These systems utilize indexing and full-text search functionalities to facilitate swift and precise document retrieval based on keywords, metadata, or other specified search criteria.
  • Templates – Document control systems frequently offer preconfigured document templates, aiding users in generating consistent and standardized documents. These templates can be personalized to align with the organization’s branding and specific needs.
  • Reminders – Organizations can use document control systems to establish expiration dates and retention policies. These systems can automate reminders for document reviews and initiate archiving and deletion actions under predefined rules.
  • Integration – Numerous document control systems provide integration capabilities with various business systems like enterprise resource planning, customer relationship management, or project management tools. This integration facilitates seamless data exchange and improves the overall efficiency of workflows.
  • Regulatory compliance – Document control systems commonly incorporate functionalities to aid in regulatory compliance. These features may encompass electronic signatures, watermarking, and document locking, among others, to ensure adherence to industry-specific regulations or standards.

Document Control Systems: How It Works?

Document control systems assist businesses in managing the storage, capture, sorting, retrieval, and distribution of documents. This involves following a defined sequence of stages, which typically include:

  • Identifying all the documents that will be managed within the control system is crucial. Effective control is essential for documents that contain sensitive or private information, have legal significance, or require stringent version control.
  • Define the standard operating procedure for the document and specify the standards that must be adhered to. Assign responsibility to individuals for the approval and oversight of each document.
  • Assign unique yet easily comprehensible identifiers to your documents. Classify documents based on their purpose or department, as this classification will be crucial for retrieving documents using search functions, especially during audits.
  • As part of document control, it is essential to establish a procedure for regular document revisions. This procedure should outline the authorized personnel responsible for making revisions. Maintain a spreadsheet that includes the document name, staff members responsible, review dates, and descriptions of the changes made.
  • Security is vital to document control, particularly for safeguarding sensitive or personal information. Your document control system should incorporate access control measures to restrict access to authorized individuals only. It should also have a backup system to ensure data protection and continuity.
  • If you wish to maintain accurate version control, it is essential to archive or, if necessary, destroy obsolete files. Establish appropriate procedures to facilitate this process. Your naming convention should include the capability to label documents as archived or obsolete, ensuring proper identification and management of outdated files.

Document Control Systems: Benefits

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Here are the benefits of document control systems:

  • Document version management lies at the core of document control. By implementing version control, you can accurately monitor document changes and identify individuals who have accessed the documents. This capability also aids in preventing unauthorized access to sensitive information.
  • A business’s long-term success and productivity are essential to upholding robust safety standards. An efficient document control system is vital in restricting access to designated personnel and safeguarding documents from unauthorized access.
  • By implementing system automation and managing the document lifecycle, you can guarantee that employees have timely access to the necessary information.

Importance Of Document Control Systems For Small Businesses

Small businesses benefit from document control systems as they facilitate efficient organization and management of documents. These systems offer centralized storage, categorization, and retrieval functionalities, effectively streamlining document management processes and saving time and effort.

Document control systems are crucial in maintaining compliance by establishing appropriate access controls, monitoring document history, and implementing robust security measures.

Additionally, these systems eliminate the necessity for physical document storage and provide secure remote access to important files.

By offering backup and disaster recovery capabilities, document control systems guarantee the protection and potential recovery of critical documents in the face of data loss or system failure. This capability aids small businesses in maintaining continuity and minimizing downtime.

Document Control Systems Vs. Document Management System


The document control system plays a crucial role in ensuring the security and credibility of your documents. It effectively tracks both the current and previous versions of your documents.

Document control involves automating the handling of your documents and keeping track of all your vital documents with minimal effort, suitable for businesses of various sizes and types.

Incorporating a Document Management system has become indispensable in today’s businesses. It entails digitizing, storing, validating, indexing, and updating paper documents.

Businesses prioritize digitizing their paper documents and establishing a system for managing all future documents.

Controlled documents are a crucial component of document management, ensuring the security of sensitive information. Document management has been made significantly more accessible with the advent of document handling systems.

Document Control Systems: How To Acquire Efficiency?

You can acquire efficiency in document control systems in the following ways:

  • Every organization must establish a comprehensive manual or procedures for effective document control. Approvals, reviews, and revisions are pivotal in any document control process. Implementing an automated workflow system empowers you to organize your document management system efficiently.
  • Metadata assists in the categorization and timely retrieval of documents. It offers supplementary contextual information that facilitates the classification of documents.
  • A skilled document controller will oversee the implementation of your organizational procedures related to document control.
  • Select an automation system accommodating various document formats, including PDFs, MS Word, and image files. Furthermore, opting for a legally compliant automation system can benefit your organization.
  • Merely having an automated document control system guarantees efficiency or control if it is regularly updated. However, by breaking down the process into discrete tasks, you can expedite the achievement of success.

FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) On Document Control Systems

1. What is a document control system?

A document control system encompasses the procedures for effectively organizing, routing, tracking, authorizing, and distributing all product design, development, and manufacturing documentation.

2. What are the different types of control documents?

Controlled documents can be broadly classified into two main types: management documents and operational documents. Management documents typically comprise high-level materials that offer an overview of your Quality Management System (QMS). These may encompass your quality policy, objectives, and scope.

3. What’s the best document management system?

Here is the best document management system:

  • ClickUp
  • M-Files
  • Alfresco
  • XaitPorter
  • Google Drive
  • PaperSave
  • Templafy
  • Bit-AI
  • DocuWare
  • OnlyOffice
  • LogicalDoc

Conclusion: Document Control Systems

Document control systems are crucial in managing and organizing documents within organizations. These systems offer a centralized repository that facilitates document storage and categorization, making retrieving them convenient through folder structures, metadata tagging, and powerful search capabilities.

In addition, document control systems foster collaboration by allowing multiple users to work together concurrently through features such as document sharing, commenting, and real-time editing.

Using document templates and retention policies improves consistency and compliance, while the integration capabilities with other business systems streamline data exchange and boost workflow efficiency.

Document control systems offer electronic signatures, watermarking, and document-locking features to meet regulatory compliance requirements. In summary, these systems bring order, efficiency, compliance, and security to document management processes, benefiting businesses of all sizes.

I hope today’s article on document control systems sounds helpful!

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Khyati is an entrepreneur, marketing consultant, and a personal finance expert.Building on her achievements, Khyati wrote two acclaimed books: "Failure's Gold," exploring success through hardship, and "Tomorrow's Wallet" on the future of money management.Her work has also been featured by LinkedIn, PPC Hero, Social Pilot, and Training Mag.Khyati has managed over $50M in marketing budgets across various industries including technology, finance, education, retail, consumer goods and more - successfully delivering over 15x ROI for her clients.Khyati has managed over $50M in marketing budgets across various industries including technology, finance, education, retail, consumer goods and more – successfully delivering over 15x ROI for her clients.
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