Subscribe to Email Updates

Quality Creates...Perspective

Integrating Your Quality Management Document Control with SharePoint

Tim Lozier
by Tim Lozier on Fri, Mar 01, 2013

Document Control Works For You!We're often faced with a common conundrum in businesses when it comes to system architecture.  No matter how you try to slice it, there are always going to be silos of information within the organization.  With multiple business systems running throughout operational processes, it is a challenge to create visibility into those silos and create better visibility to the data.  Yet this is the ideal situation - business systems that can remain separate, but have integration with each other to talk and communicate, acting as one.  Lofty, but achievable - you just have to have the right tools.  One of these challenges lies in the ability to integrate a Microsoft SharePoint implementation with your Quality Management System's Document Control Solution.

Microsoft SharePoint is an enterprise collaboration and document/asset management solution, designed to manage, store and share content across the enterprise.  In recent years, it has become a "favorite" of many IT solutions, mainly because it is a platform.  This enables System Architects to develop any number of operations and applications on it.  However, when it comes to the specifics of your Quality Management Solution, and more specifically Document Control, it can come up a little short.  Here's why:

1.  Best practices:  Most common QMS solutions with Document Control are designed with Quality System Standards in mind.  Forms, Workflows, processes, and meta data in a QMS have this Quality foundation already built in.  Using a platform like SharePoint requires development of these best practices from the ground up, which can be a challenge.

2.  Make Versus Buy:  The time and effort that might be required to put together a custom project, versus using a best-of-breed solution is considerable when you weigh the project out.  It makes better sense to implement a best of breed solution with all the processes pre-built for your Quality Management needs.

OK, so here's the rub - SharePoint isn't going away - Documents need to reside in SharePoint and it's the corporate standard, and there's no getting around that.  Or is there?  It's OK to have document reside in SharePoint, in fact, with the right technology in place, it makes perfect sense.  However, if we can integrate Quality Management Document Control functionality into the SharePoint solution, then we have what we need.  Here's how:

3.  SharePoint and Your Document Control Can Be Synchronized:  SharePoint has a method of accessing documents and working on them, essentially "check-in" and "check-out".  Through Integration, you can initiate a Document Control workflow by integrating the check out feature in SharePoint.  Your Document Control System has a record of the document that mirrors the SharePoint record.  Document Control holds the meta data, the workflow and the business rules that meet your Quality System standards.  Instead of the attachment of the document, it's a dynamic link to the location of the document in SharePoint. 

Sharepoint Links to your Document Control

4.  Initiating a Change in Document Control will Check it out of SharePoint, and Load it to the Document Control System:  Ok, so let's say you want to make a change request on a Document.  You would go into your Document Control System, initiate a change request, just as you normally would.  What happens in the background is the system sends a message to SharePoint to check out the document, and deposit it in the Document Control workflow.  Then you can execute the Change using your best-in-class Quality Management system Document Control Solution, and when the change is complete, the newly changed and approved document is then checked back into the SharePoint record, and synced again with Document Control.

Using Document Control Workflow Around Sharepoint

Essentially, SharePoint holds the documents in place, but Document Control does all the heavy-lifting - the workflow, processes business rules all of it - taken care of in Document Control.

SharePoint is a great way to store content and manage documents on an Enterprise level.  However, if you are looking for a best practice, Quality Systems approach to Document Control, then you really need your Document Control System to do the job.  When you have to have SharePoint AND your Document Control System, look for ways to integrate the two.  Document Control can manage the process, and SharePoint can be the document repository.  That way you can have your SharePoint implementation, while keeping your Document Control as the driver for compliance in the Quality Management System. 

The Risk Management Guidebook

Leave a comment