ISO Compliance – How to Cost Effectively Control Your Documents


You are a small to medium size company that must have ISO certification to meet the demands of your customers or are looking to expand your market by obtaining ISO certification. At the same time, you need to find a cost-effective approach to achieving certification. The team has done the research and identified several sources for templates that can be used to create the documentation you require.

Now you are facing the challenge of how to easily meet the record keeping requirements and gain / maintain buy-in from employees who may be concerned that the extra documentation will result in increased workloads and stress. Is there a cost-effective option to assist in meeting the document control requirements and automatically provide information required as part of an ISO audit?

Let’s start by reviewing the record control requirements, as outlined by clause 7.5:

Organizations must establish a documented procedure to:


1.       Approve documents for adequacy prior to issue

The approval process for many organizations relies on the creation of a document that is then sent out as an email attachment or as a link to a shared file. This presents several challenges since the review process will typically involve several people:

·       How do you ensure the document has been received and reviewed?

·       How do you share the feedback that is being given by each person?

·       How do you manage the versions of the document that have been created?

·       How do you capture and record the approvals?

·       How do provide an audit trail of the entire process?  - who requested changes, comments on those changes, changes made and when they were made, who approved the process and when it was approved is difficult, if not impossible because of the use of emails / links and multiple versions of the process being reviewed.


The solution should include automated tracking to show who has received / opened / reviewed the document in question. This needs to include an automated approach to request and track approvals. It needs to provide an easy approach to allow for the sharing of comments / feedback to improve communication and collaboration. To improve productivity, the solution needs to quickly show what has changed from version to version so reviewers can focus on what has changed and not have to re-read the entire document. The solution should request, track and record the required approvals. Finally, the solution should capture everything that has happened to the document to provide a complete audit trail.

2.       Review, update as necessary, and re-approve documents

The review process has the same challenges faced as part of the initial creation process. Now there is the additional challenges:

·       How do you maintain an audit of both the review process and the publication of the updated document?

The solution needs to provide an easy approach to update an existing document that addresses the concerns outlined as part of the initial approval process and ensures there is automatically generated audit trail that captures both the review process and the updated document that is  distributed to the users.


3.       Identify the changes and current document revision status

The key to identifying the current version of a document is to ensure that the people working with the document always open the most current version and have an intuitive interface that quickly informs them that they are working with the most up-to-date document.

When identifying the changes that have been made, there are two items to consider. The first is how to quickly take the employee to the areas that have been changed without having to search through the document and the second is the ability to quickly compare any two versions of a document to see what has changed.

Any solution you are looking at needs to address both issues.

4.       Make relevant documents available at points of use

To make relevant documents available requires a solution that distributes the right documents to the right people and ensures they always have the most up-to-date document(s). The solution should provide an easy approach to update the access control lists to add / remove people as required (so they automatically receive or have documents revoked) and from an audit perspective, know who has received and read the documents.

5.       Ensure the documents remain legible and readily identifiable

Using technology that supports PCs, Tablets and Mobile devices provides the ability to distribute electronic documentation that is legible and with the right system, easy to find and use.

6.       Identify external documents and control their distribution

This requires a solution that reports on who has received documents and provides a means to quickly revoke a document from any individual or group. Ideally the system should also provide for the automatic revocation of all documents a user has received if they are removed from the system.

7.       Prevent obsolete documents from unintended use

There are two aspects that need to be addressed. The solution needs to support the ability to revoke a document from all users and to ensure that users are always working with the most up-to-date version of a document.

8.       Apply suitable identification if obsolete documents are retained

The solution needs to have the ability to maintain required documents in a controlled environment that is not available to users, but is maintained to ensure required documents are kept until they are no longer required as an historic record.

In addition, the key is to ensure that employees not only have the required documents available, but that they have received, and read the required documents. How can you easily and efficiently address many of these issues? SavvyDox is a cloud-based solution that offers:

·       Automated distribution of the latest version of the content being reviewed to ensure no one is reviewing something that is out of date.

·       Delivery of comments in context (i.e. selecting a comment takes a user directly to the area of the document that is relevant to the comment). These comments can be shared with everyone so a conversation can take place and the entire conversation is available to those who have been invited to participate (selected people or everyone participating in the review process), improving communication and collaboration. These alerts can be integrating with email and messaging systems so a reviewer can see a comment in their preferred environment and with one click go to the exact spot in the document to see the comment in context and quickly respond.

·       Automated tracking of, all assigned tasks and due dates to provides a quick overview of what is on track and what requires attention and follow-up. This includes capturing approvals, any comments associated with the approval and the date the approval was provided for the review process

·       Automated reporting of what pages an employee has read, if they have reviewed the document and due dates. In addition, with SavvyDox’s document intelligence tools, when you publish an updated version an employee who reads the pages that have changed will be reported as having read the document if they had completely read the previous version. If preferred, the updated policy can be published as a new document and the employee will have to read the entire document to qualify as having completely read the document.

·       Automated highlighting of changed pages from version to version to provide focus for reviews and improve a reviewer’s efficiency. In addition, we provide one click comparisons of any 2 versions of a document.

·       Advanced access control lists to add / remove any users as required to deliver or revoke documents.

·       Support for multiple platforms, ensuring users always have access to the documents they need.

SavvyDox can be used as a standalone solution or complement your current CM, CRM, ERP or CLM solution to improve the efficiency of your document control process and improve your bottom line.