Four principles of document revision management

Steve Kelly, Principal Sales Consultant | June 1, 2020

I'd like to share some best practices for streamlining document management processes that we’ve identified through working with Oracle Aconex clients. These tips can help projects run more smoothly and avoid any cost and time impacts.

Establishing good procedures between participants, including the control and revision of documents, can help streamline a project. These best practices include document numbering, revision and status of documents, the control of transmittals and distribution, and the maintenance of a document issue register.

Using an online document management system that utilizes a true common data environment (CDE) is a great way to manage document registers. Here are four principles of good revision management for collaborating parties to follow, regardless of the tool being used.

1. The document numbering system should be agreed at the start of the project

Clients may insist on implementing their own document numbering system, or participating organizations may combine to create a new system. Regardless of the approach, it’s important to select a single method and ensure all parties are clear on the usage of the same system.

2. The revision coding system should be agreed as part of the above numbering system

The most common revision systems are based on a numeric (1, 2, 3 …) or alphabetic sequence (A, B, C … AA, AB, AC …). In some cases, numbers are used for revisions up to the ‘For Construction’ issue of documents, with letters used for revisions from that point on.

Alternatively, letters and numbers can be combined, with the sequence reverting to a letter at agreed points in the revision process (A1, A2, A, B1, B2, B, C1…).

Some organizations develop more complex coding to reflect their own internal review stages (e.g. A1-01, A1-02, A2-01…). Again, select a single revision system and be sure all parties on the project use the same.

3. The revision code must continue sequentially from the first issue of a document through its entire life

The revision code must continue in sequence as a document moves through various aspects of a project. This allows all participants, including those not involved in the creation of a document, to understand how versions of documents relate to each other.

There can be exceptions to this rule, if predefined. For example, the revision code may revert to A or 1 at the completion of each stage of a project. This is a complicated exception and requires careful management and quality control.

4. Revisions must be clearly identified within a document

Knowing which revision a user is looking at is critical to the cost and schedule of a project. The revision number and date must be clearly defined on the sheet so that the user can see which revision they are reviewing. In the case of a drawing, there will normally be a revision cloud around the area of change with a revision letter placed inside a triangle attached to the cloud. CAD drawings would have this on a revision cloud layer, with a new layer created for each cloud.

These four principles are essential for effective document revision management. Let us know if there is anything you think should be added to this list.

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