We’ve talked in the past about the importance of controlling your documents. Under ISO 9001, every business-related document must be controlled, especially in the manufacturing world, where process revolves around a constant flow of documents, their approvals, and their ability to withstand an audit.
With so many moving variables in a world that is highly dependent on precision and compliance, having the ability to instantly recall a document’s history with a secure audit trail – exactly who had access, and what they did with it – is a paramount part of document control. This is even more risky for those operating across multiple jurisdictions and countries.
What's an Audit Trail?
An audit trail is simply a log of the path that a document has taken. Most audit trails capture key details about a documents journey such as:
date and time the document was accessed
name of user who checked in or out a document
action taken with the document (approved, modified, declined)
comments about the document in the respective step of the process
Take the high level example of the basic manufacturing process. A document, such as a purchase order, is received from a customer and then passes through a series of checkpoints within the organization to initiate production, inspection, and, finally, delivery. The problem is that so much can happen (or go wrong) along the way.
Each step may involve a series of approvals, additions, deletions – all important changes made to the initial order. What’s more is that these modifications are not just made by one person, but a number of different employees involved in the production process. With so many cooks in the kitchen, anything can go wrong.
Unauthorized printing: Audit logs can be configured to work in conjunction with your print tracking software, so you can track whether or not a file was printed.
Unforeseen errors: Many systems ensure that previous document versions are retained regardless of their changes. This way, if a change has been made that was in error, the originals are still intact.
Missed deadlines:With an eye on the automated process, users can be alerted when deadlines are approaching or missed.
ISO 9001 compliance benefits customers in the following areas:
Better products and service
Timely production and deliveries
Ease of access to customer records
Instant answers because information is at your fingertips
Fewer returns and complaints
Instills trust in the supplier’s commitment to quality