Engineering Data Management and document control are often considered to be very similar; however, there is significant difference between them.
What is Engineering Data Management?
Engineering Data Management is all about the creation, version control and fast retrieval of documents. It has little or nothing to do with formal change management, or building a reliable audit trail. Engineering Data Management Systems should make life for the engineer as simple as possible without introducing too much complexity..
What is Document Control?
Document control on the other hand, is the management of documents through their life cycle with a much higher degree of reliability for security, version control, review cycle, visibility, availability and, most importantly, for a controlled and reliable audit trail.
In capital projects, everything revolves around engineering documents (drawings, calculations, contracts etc.). The timely availability of these engineering documents is a major factor in the success of projects and cannot be achieved without a reliable document control process. The sheer number of documents and third-party companies involved makes it impossible to track all document transactions without a document control system to support that process.
Engineering Data Management & Document Control
The exchange of engineering documents managed by document control is, of course, tightly integrated with the creation of these engineering documents. Typically, engineering documents are created and go through an internal release process before they are shared with other stakeholders in the projects for formal review and approval. This formal review and approval process, getting the client’s approval before issuing a document for construction, for instance, always has severe legal implications underlining once more that a reliable audit trail is crucial.
One solution for both processes?
Generic document control systems are not always the best solution to support the complexity of engineering data. Equally so, Engineering Data Management Systems (EDMS) are not very effective in supporting document control processes such as review and approval cycles, transparency, progress reports and audit trails. Although it might seem controversial, using different systems to cover both areas can actually be a good idea, especially in engineering environments.