Document Control Plan

Purpose

The document control plan is an outline or guide on how physical or virtual documents will be managed throughout the life of the project. It provides a road map for tracking documents and for adding, archiving, and removing new documentation from the process.

Application

The document control plan is used whenever sufficient documentation exists to warrant a specific process for the control, sequencing, and maintenance of documentation through multiple channels. It is initiated to ensure that those involved with the project share an understanding of how information in the project will be managed and who will have access to which documentation at which point in time. It is used during the project as both affirmation of the process and as the means to educate others on the process application.

Content

A document control plan may consist of little more than an index of available documentation and its intended locations, or, in more ornate applications, it may consist of a matrix of documents and their owners, locations, update schedules, circulation lists, archival locations, and destruction dates, as shown in Table 4.2.

In the examples shown in Table 4.2, some of the common issues with document control are evident. Depending on how the document is crafted, it may be necessary to update the document control document any time a document is updated. Such would be the case with the "Location" column as crafted, because each document is called out in its most current version. By contrast, if a wildcard location is called out (as in the "Archive" column), then the document control plan may go for a more extended period without an update. Similarly, if team and organizational titles are identified, rather than names, the need for frequent updates may be lessened significantly.

Approaches

The document control plan can be approached in a variety of ways, including straight narrative or the tabular format shown here. There are normally extensive

Table 4.2 Sample Document Control Plan

Owner

Location

Update Schedule

Circulation

Archive

Destruction

Document

Name of

Physical or

Frequency

Names or

Physical or

Maintenance

Name

the

virtual

of updates

functions

virtual

schedule or

responsible

location

of applicable

location of

final

party

of current version

stakeholders

past versions

destruction date

Examples

Stakeholder

Project

M:/Project

First team

Project team

M:/Project a/Arc-

Project sign-off

list

Doc/Stakelist.0 7.doc

meeting each month

Doc/Stakelist.*.*

date, plus 3 years

WBS

Project

M:/Project

Every 6

PM, assistant

M:/Project

Project sign-off

Doc/ProjA.05. mpp

weeks

PM, team, Jeff Zohnd

a/MasDoc/ ProjA.*.*.mpp

date, plus 5 years

Team

Team

M:/Project

Whenever

Project team

M:/Project

Project sign-off

charter

representative

a/Mas-

new team

a/MasDoc/

date, plus 6

(Mark

Doc/Team

members

Team

months

Lamoncha)

Agree.02. doc

are added

Agree.*.*.doc

cross-references to other documentation and to storage repositories within the organization. Document control frequently incorporates the protocols for version control of documentation as well. This may be as simple as incrementally renaming files as new iterations are created (e.g., Document01, Document02, Document03) or may involve protocols that address authorship, ownership, or the responsible party for the latest iterations (e.g., Document01.Bob03, Document01.Bob03-Martin01). The rationale for and description of the approach(es) should be clearly delineated in the narrative associated with the document control plan.

Considerations

While project managers may be tempted to arbitrarily set the archive and destruction dates for aging documents, the legal aspects of document maintenance need to be considered. Project organizations have legal responsibilities to their clients and to their governments and regulators to maintain certain documents. The laws regarding document retention vary from region to region and agency to agency. Before establishing (and implementing) document destruction protocols, legal counsel should be sought.

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