Your Complete Guide to Document Control and Becoming a Document Control Specialist
Quality control is one of the most important processes in any industry - and documentation control is one of its key elements. Whether you are in construction, engineering, renewable energy or beyond, it’s important to set a standardised document control procedure, either as a business leader or a document control manager.
A standardised document control process ensures that all documents and data are verifiable, aiding the quality control process and ensuring that only up-to-date processes and procedures are used in your organisation. Needless to say, this minimises risk on various fronts and allows your business to operate efficiently and effectively.
Today, we’re taking a deep dive into document control and management, the document controller duties, and all other important facts about this position in the modern workplace. Here’s what you need to know.
What is Document Control Exactly?
Document control embodies a series of processes and practices used in an organisation to create, review, disseminate, and dispose of documents in a verifiable way. This is a crucial process that ensures all documents are organised and factual, aligned with the latest business and industrial processes and standards.
In many ways, proper and regular document controls ensure that your organisation evolves alongside industry and market standards, as well as talent demands, certifications and practices, and more.
Document control is a key part of quality control that helps an organisation maintain clean and detailed documentation both internally and externally. Internally, a comprehensive document control process would entail creating workplace documents, intended to facilitate proper procedure and adherence within a given setting.
Externally, on the other hand, document control is vital for creating, reviewing, and managing documents between organisations and clients, partners, and other key stakeholders. Combined with document control risk assessment, an organisation can use these processes for preventive measures and risk mitigation internally and externally.
What is a Document Controller?
A document control specialist is tasked with maintaining project documents, making sure that proper documentation reaches the right people. A document controller is often separated from a document control manager, however, the latter carrying additional duties and responsibilities.
A construction document control manager, for example, would be tasked with creating policies and procedures that ensure all documentation is organised and easily accessible. A document control manager would also have access to sensitive data and confidential business documentation, adding a level of responsibility to the role.
In some cases, however, the document controller duties and the duties of a document control manager can be merged into a single job position, depending on the size and the unique requirements of the organisation.
Keeping in mind that the duties of a document controller can vary depending on the industry and the needs of the business, these duties can include:
- Controlling project documentation
- Handling company documentation
- Analysing external documents together with legal
- Making sure that all documents meet specific standards and requirements
- Analysing every document control procedure and suggesting improvements
- Sorting, organising, and retrieving documents for staff, clients, and partners
- Reporting to decision makers or the document control manager
- Conducting a regular document control audit
- Aiding in project planning and organisation
- Organising and distributing documents via digital channels in the company
- Ensuring project efficiency by delivering key documentation at the right time, to the right people
It should go without saying that these duties require a specific skill-set, along with the proper document controller education requirements, which we will talk about in a moment. But before we move on to education and training, here are some of the general skills an aspiring document control specialist should have:
- Ability to work and coordinate with clients and team members
- Customer service skills
- Administrative skills
- Have a trained eye that can spot the smallest irregularities
- Self-driven and able to take initiative
- Work well under pressure and time constraints
- Open to feedback and change
- Proficient in written and verbal communication
- Proficient in using desktop computers and the appropriate tools for document control
Document Controller Education Requirements
Those who are looking into becoming a document control specialist or a document control manager might be happy to hear that there is no diploma specific to this vocation. Because document control jobs are typically learned as you go, or through company-specific apprenticeships, you don’t need to pursue a university degree to become a professional in this field.
That said, most companies that advertise for document control specialist jobs like to see some degree that’s related to the position. These can include:
- A degree in IT
- A degree in business administration
- A degree in a managerial field
- A degree in project management
- A degree in finance
- A degree in data analysis
- A degree in economics
There are many other possible degrees that can help you develop the specific skills to become a proficient document controller, with the right company training. That’s why business leaders like to see candidates that have attended a course in document control and hold a document control certification.
Attending these courses at your local university or a certified teaching facility is a worthwhile investment if you want to become a prime candidate in your chosen field. This becomes especially important if you’re looking to land engineering document control jobs, become a construction document control manager or enter a similar, specific sector.
When you start applying for document controller jobs, and especially if you have no prior work experience, be ready to undergo company-specific training and education. This will be a kind of apprenticeship that will educate and train you on the unique document control process in your company and the industry.
Document Controller Job Description
The document controller work description will vary from organisation to organisation, and will be influenced by the unique requirements of the industry you work in. While every company will have its own processes, you can expect to find many document controller job requirements and job descriptions that fit a certain mould.
We have already listed the document controller duties you can expect to take on, but keep in mind that performing these duties may require industry experience. As an aspiring construction document control manager, for example, you may need to showcase work experience in the construction industry. Those applying for entry-level document control positions, on the other hand, may not require any specialised experience.
In this case, the job description will specify on-site training or apprenticeship programs. Depending on the position you’re applying for, the level of seniority and experience, pay ranges will vary considerably - more on that in a bit.
The same goes for other specialised industries, if you’re looking for engineering document control jobs or a position in the energy sector.
The Document Control Process
While document control is generally a manual process, always keep in mind that automation has become an important part of the document control process. This means that as a document control specialist, you will need to set the right procedures and automate where necessary.
Depending on the tools provided by your employer and the capital invested in document control automation, you might be able to automate the following:
- Audit trails
- Triggered reminders
- Review and document approval
- Document storage and organisation
- Documented procedures and sharing
- Routing documents from external vendors
Whether or not automation is a possibility in your company, there are still the principal processes and procedures that a document controller should follow. These procedures include:
- Receive new documents. When you receive new documents, you’re tasked with their identification and classification. Verify information with the originator, ensuring all quality standards are used.
- Store the documents. Using a document management system, store the documents in an organised way, ensuring the safety of the documents and all sensitive information. The place where you store them should allow easy document maintenance and retrieval.
- Retrieve the right documentation. With document retrieval, you have to make sure that the documentation can only be accessed by authorised personnel. Likewise, you need to determine which documents can be viewed, removed, altered, or reproduced.
- Distribute the documentation. Distributing a controlled document means getting the right documentation to the right people, but can also mean giving access to documents that are not meant for distribution - such as granting access to record stores.
- Destroy the documents. You may be tasked with purging documents based on business, legal, and regulatory requirements. Documents can only be destroyed in accordance with approved, legal processes.
What is ISO 9001 Document Control?
ISO document control requires that your organisation controls documents per the quality management system. The ISO 9001:2015 document control standard ensures that the organisation has adequate document control procedures, to demonstrate the effectiveness of the quality management system as a whole.
As an evolution of the ISO 9001:2008 standard, ISO 9001:2015 now allows organisations to approach document control and management according to their unique requirements. The new ISO standard allows you as a document control specialist or a manager to tailor the complexity and use of documentation relative to the unique circumstances your company is facing.
This facilitates the documentation of modern communication methods, for example, such as video, audio, and other electronic records. As a part of the ISO document controller job description, you will be required to abide by the ISO 9001 document control standards to ensure compliance, operational efficiency, and proper quality control.
Document Controller Salary
Document control and management is an important process regardless of the industry or country you work in, but different socio-economic and geographic factors will greatly influence the pay range in this field. Keep in mind that different companies may have different seniority levels for this position, so the pay range can vary even more depending on the position you’re starting at.
Average Document Controller Salary in the US
In the US, the median document controller salary is $85,240, while the salary can range from $45,320 to $129,700.
Average Document Controller Salary in the UK
In the UK, the average yearly salary for a document control specialist is £27,987.
Average Document Controller Salary in Canada
In Canada, the average yearly salary is $43,924, with a pay range from $33,150 to $70,200 per year.
Average Document Controller Salary in AU
In Australia, the median document controller specialist salary is $88,116 per year, with a pay range of $80,000 to $113,786.
Spruce Up Your Document Controller Resume
In the field of document control, employers want to see numerous qualities and skills on a resume, all of which make the candidate stand out. Refer to the skills and the document controller education requirements that we talked about earlier in this guide.
For entry level positions, make sure to list complementary experience and any courses you have attended that are directly or indirectly related to the document control process. Make sure to list supplementary skills and emphasise your ability to learn quickly on the job.
If you have concrete experience as a document control specialist or a manager, then your work experience will be your biggest selling point. Aside from listing any degrees and certifications, you need to emphasise how you developed as a document controller and how you handled your duties at your previous jobs.
In the cover letter, you can elaborate on your resume and talk about how you can use your skills and experience to bring the same kind of value to your new employer.
Common Interview Questions for Document Control Specialist
During the interview process, your skills, experience, and job talent may be put to the test. Here are some of the questions to look out for:
What is your unique document control process that you found works best?
- Show you’re capable of taking the initiative. Talk about how you developed new processes and the strategies that help you excel at your job. Employers want to see a forward-thinker.
How would you approach improving our document management system?
- Answering this question shows that you have researched the employer and their industry. You might not have a concrete action plan yet, but it opens an opportunity to talk about your unique process.
How do you leverage end-user feedback to improve document control?
- This answer will show the employer how you handle interpersonal communication and how you turn feedback into concrete solutions. Have a concrete example ready, or if you’re short on experience, talk about how you would put feedback to good use in their company.
Find the Best Document Control Jobs on BuildStream
Document controller jobs are in high demand, especially in highly-regulated industries. This is your opportunity to kick-start a successful career as a document control specialist, or to climb the professional ladder if you already have some experience in this field.
BuildStream can help you find the best document control jobs in your location and the industry you want to work in. Create a free account today and start your journey as a professional document controller.