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Cloud Based Document Control

If you read our article on Building a Cloud Based Document Control System, you would probably agree that constructing an online Catalogue for managing company records and documents is only one component of the project. It is just as important that documents, especially support instructions (aka SOPs), technical user guides and manuals, are easily located and accessible to any authorised staff and technicians. We can't assume that networks and internet access is available and responsive when critical services, applications and infrastrure require urgent fixes.

Ideally, technicians should have copies of the very latest work instructions on their PCs (netbooks or other portable device).  The means to ensure this is through some form of team collaborate tool that regulary synchronizes documents from a comapany production repository.  Large organisations may have industrial strength systems on their intranets to provide this, such as IBM Notes Domino or Microsoft Share Point.  These generally require dedicated support teams and specialists to maintain them.

Smaller businesses may opt for one of the many Cloud Services now available to share documents from centrally managed repositories. But how do we choose a suitable product that can be trusted and also meets our functional demands? Our discussions here will focus on both the many forums and reviews, comparing the pros and cons of different Cloud services, as well as how different options may be best applied to our Document Control System project.

As with all our blogs and articles, our objectives are to probe, share our collective views and invite feedback.

Let's review our project objectives and requirements before we explore the suitable Cloud service solutions.

1.  We want to build a model for an online document and record repository.  We also need a hierarchically structured catalogue that allows comapny wide visibility for all documents to all staff that need to view and possiby access them.  Hence not all catalogue indexes will be visible to all teams and staff.

2.  We require a method to manage and control all documents according to both the company Quality Management System (QMS) as well as the Document Control Standard. This may or may not be certifiable to external standards such as ISO 9001, although we will seek guidance from this standard as a best practice method.

3.  We need to develop the repository and access tools to provide continuous availability of the most current production edition (or version) of a document.

4.  We require the whole solution to be responsive, reliable, secure, easy to set-up, use and maintain.  We also require it to be "dirt cheap".

Apart from the core requirements, there are a number of functions and capabilities that could be added to a wish-list, and might have an influence in determining the best provider. Some of these include:-

Support for Linux servers, support for various user access levels and even access groups, strong file encryption and possibly user controlled encryption, multiple file versioning, automatic backup, client control application (in lieu of browser based access), mulitple administrators, ability to open cloud stored documents by common office tools (eg. MS Office).

The next challenge is to find the most recent, comprehensive, independent and impartial reviews and comparisons. We've started a resource index to bookmark some of the review and training sites, but acknowledge that Google search is probably a good way of tracking down credible, unbiased comparisons.  In the end the reader should be able to make his or her own decision on which services best match requirements and budget.

From QualityHelp's point of view we are happy to explore and test the products that closely match our shared and syncronised, multi-user model.


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