Context : document flow and document processing
The number and critical nature of interactions and exchange processes between companies in engineering projects stem from two main factors:
- each actor (client, head contractor, engineering firm, etc.) interacts with several partners, generating multiple communications flows
- all these flows entail a great number of documents and shared information that must all meet high standards of formality and confidentiality
Engineering services need to facilitate access for these actors and manage projects where the paperwork is constantly increasing, while ensuring document processing and security: follow-up of accountability, approval cycles, contractual documents and more. Document processing and process management as well as document workflow go well beyond the capacity of a simple DMS (Document Management System).
Flows lacking the right solution :
Principles of document flow and process management
A company document is drafted to be transmitted and capitalised on. The document evolves as the project moves forward and as a result of user observations.
The main difficulty lies in this process of change and updating.
An efficient document flow management process (or document workflow / document processing) comprises several fundamental stages:
- drafting the document,
- reviewing and processing remarks before distribution,
- processing user feedback
- updating until securing client approval
All spontaneous or requested pre-distribution comments, whether from the issuers or users of the document, are contributions that feed a new cycle.
The approval, validation and distribution cycle varies from project to project, but the example on the right illustrates the importance of this central pillar to drive the project safely and efficiently to completion.
Example of complex document processing :
Benefits of structured management of document flows and processes
- The backbone of a project’s information system: interlink the information and applications for a consolidated overview. Data and documents are linked through applications, but without being duplicated.
- Flow Organisation: structure the fundamental stages in a process from drafting to distribution, including reviews and treatment of observations.
- Management of rereading cycles: create, share, organise and follow up remarks and changes efficiently, without altering the document.
- Validation, approval, proofreading and electronic signature: secure the document’s lifecycle by managing the different stages, with a validation process that can be tailored to its “critical” nature.
- Guarantee the integrity of the document by inserting the electronic signature into the validation process.
- Automate document transmission: ensure security and traceability of distributed documents through distribution matrices adapted to each project.
- Traceability and deadline monitoring: reporting tools and indicators to view job progress in real time and match it to forward schedules.
Benefits of organised document processes :
Go beyond the file as a document :
Recording data in document form alone limits information analyses and impact studies. In managing infrastructures, accessing documentation or facilities information at run-time is essential to identify how documents are inter-related and refer to other components in the project. Document flow management then leads to managing configurations and facilities.