With the start of the implementation of ISO 9001, ISO 14001, and ISO 27001 projects comes the realization that it is extremely difficult to manage all the complexities that come with them. There is an enormous amount of documents, versions, reviews, and approvals that need to be digested and handled throughout the lifetime of any ISO implementation project, and to address these challenges properly, companies are turning to online ISO solutions.

In this article, we will list the top five online document management challenges tied to the implementation of any ISO project, and show you how to leverage online technology to overcome them.

Five ISO document management challenges your ISO online software should address

Having an online ISO tool to help you drive your implementation project forward is definitely a plus. However, before choosing a software solution that might not meet all of your needs, take a good look under the hood and see if your top choice has what it takes to address these ISO document management challenges:

  1. Difficult access to documents – If you need to spend a lot of time getting to the right file, it is time to look for other software solutions. Ease of access to documents should be the flagship of every decent online document management system, and you deserve the best.
  2. Lack of document workflow – When no one knows what should be done next with the document – or even better, who should do it – the result is confusion, missed steps, and lost time.
  3. Lack of document privacy – Having a system that doesn’t support controlled access to documents is in absolute conflict with the reality faced by project managers during an ISO project implementation. The nature of many documents developed during the project requires confidentiality, so make sure your solution supports this.
  4. No document version control – Faced with 20+ versions of one document co-developed by a team of colleagues and dispersed over a dozen locations, when you need to find a particular version, you are in trouble. When you don’t have tracked changes, you cannot understand the evolution of the document completely.
  5. Poor communication – Digging through email conversations for a piece of information you need can be very frustrating, so make sure your DMS supports a decent contextual discussion.

Addressing five ISO document management challenges using Conformio

Having all of this in mind, we set out to construct a single online platform to address these challenges and help project managers to effectively manage all their ISO project documentation. We accomplished this goal by enabling:

  1. Quick access to documents. On Conformio, each document is easily uploaded to the project or folder it belongs to. Getting to it requires 3 mouse clicks. Documents can be searched from any Conformio screen, accessed and downloaded right from the Search results page or accessed via a particular project. The My Files section is used as a centralized hub for all the documents we have access to, so there is no time lost wondering where the exact document is, reducing lost time and increasing performance. You can read more on this in the article: Using the search functionality to speed up your ISO implementation project.
Top 5 features of your online ISO document management system - Conformio

Figure 1 – Quick access to documents on Conformio

  1. Intuitive document workflow. On Conformio, you can set your own customized statuses to handle documents, and with that, your own document workflows. Those workflows can be as simple or as complex as your organization requires. In our own company, we set these statuses to help us understand the progress of certain documents:
    • Draft – Document is a work in progress, not ready for any kind of review.
    • For review – Document is ready for a review.
    • For approval – Document has been reviewed and sent to approval.
    • Approved – Document is completed and approved.

Read more about setting up document workflows here: Streamline your document management process by setting up document workflow.

Top 5 features of your online ISO document management system - Conformio

Figure 2 – Setting up document workflow on Conformio

  1. Complete control over document privacy. We can develop confidential documents accessible to a small team, or just for our own eyes, by controlling people’s access at two points: at the project level, or in a particular folder. This way, we can design and completely control the access permissions of users to the organization’s confidential documentation, while still allowing those documents to evolve. You can learn more about document privacy here: How the private folder enables confidentiality in a DMS.
Top 5 features of your online ISO document management system - Conformio

Figure 3 – Creating private folders and controlling access to documents on Conformio

  1. Complete control over document versioning. With the ability to record as many versions as we need on Conformio, we can revert back to previous versions with a single click, or preview changes to understand the evolution of the document. Change tracking, along with an elaborate review process to accept or reject those changes, are necessary elements of a successful online document management system.
Top 5 features of your online ISO document management system - Conformio

Figure 4 – Document version control on Conformio

  1. Contextual communication. Discussions can be started and followed on each document, making everyone’s life a lot easier. Each discussion is recorded with the document for future reference, and can be emailed to an inbox and made into an actionable task from the My Discussions module. While editing a document you can add comments inside, respond to comments, and move comments around, just like any Office document.
Top 5 features of your online ISO document management system - Conformio

Figure 5 – Starting a document discussion on Conformio

Apart from these features that resolve the difficulties faced by project managers during an ISO project implementation, we should mention that documents on Conformio can be:

  • synced with Dropbox
  • co-edited in real time by a whole team at once
  • easily distributed to all team members
  • stored, changed, and approved with ease

Before choosing your own ISO document management solution, consider these challenges, because they can truly make a difference when that project due date finally comes knocking at the door.

Technology gives us a much-needed edge to do more, faster and better. So, why not try it? It’s free.

Click here to open a free account at Conformio – you’ll have free access for 10 users to the unlimited features of the ISO management tool compliant with ISO 9001, ISO 14001, and ISO 27001.