Last edited 15 Sep 2020

Document control in building design and construction

An understanding of where documents are, who created them, what they are for and how to retrieve them is extremely important in order to avoid confusion and mistakes.

Organisations may have their own internal quality management system or ISO 9001 certification that sets out their document control procedures, but on a building design project, the consultant team members and the client may wish to agree a common system of document control.

Automatic, electronic systems for document control can be used (document management systems (DMS)) that will automatically name, create versions, track, archive, retrieve and share documents, however at the very least a document control system should be agreed that standardises:

It is important that the whole project team buys into and supports the document control system as such systems can only be effective if they include all documentation, and there can be a tendency for members of the project team to allow systems to slip if they see that others are not following agreed procedures. See collaborative practices.

Increasingly, project teams are establishing online environments for file sharing and / or document control (such as a common data environment). It is important that it is clear who is responsible for maintaining such a system, and whether it is a contractual requirement for members of the project team to use it.

Guidance on the standardisation and control of drawings can be found in the article on computer aided design (CAD).

NB: The ARB (Architects Registration Board) Code: 'Standards of professional conduct and practice', requires that architects have adequate quality management systems in place to protect a client's interest. Standard 4: 'Competent management of your business' states: 'you should ensure that adequate security is in place to safeguard both paper and electronic records for your client, taking full account of data protection legislation, and that clients' confidential information is safeguarded'

See also: General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR).

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