A solid change control process is key to a successful records management regimen.  This includes the version/revision numbering of important documents and drawings.  However, the incremental numbering of revisions alone in not sufficient alone to ensure the integrity of your valuable digital assets.  Consider the following quick scenario to illustrate the risks:

Adam & Jane work in different Departments of the same company and usually work independently.  Adam logs into his company’s document repository system, locates the existing ‘Master Plan’ file and starts working on it.  The changes he needs to make could take hours or even days.  During this time he has a working draft copy of the document open on his computer.  At the same time, Jane also needs to change the same file.  She also logs into the document management system and starts to work on her draft.  Unless both of them have used a ‘check-out‘ mechanism to indicate that the document should be locked from simultaneous edits while in a draft state, neither of them will be aware that there are two draft documents on the go.  Adam saves his changes first and creation version 2 of the document.  Jane follows hours later and saves her changes as version 3.  She has just erased Adam’s changes.  Since her version 3 was based on revisions she made to the original version 1 of the file, she doesn’t have Adam’s input.

The scenario can easily happen in any file share or document repository that doesn’t support a check-in/check-out mechanism to enforce only sequential edits or revisions.  Furthermore, the feature must be used, not skipped, as part of a regular operating procedure when editing version controlled documents, and followed by all company employees.

The Drawing Management System (DMS) by DCM Inc. support a very detailed check-out & check-in process.  When performing the document check out operation, a time-stamp, username and check out comment are recorded.  The status indicator Document is Checked Out appears prominently at the top of the document page when viewing the document details withing DMS.  Upon check in, the same time-stamp, username and check in comment are also recorded.  Full details for both the in and out operations appear Document History action log.  Using the mechanism to force sequential changes ensure that drawing details are never erased or overwritten within the system is a best-practice.

Without this crucial step in the process, competing revisions ensue and can quick become an unmanageable mess with valuable data being lost along the way.

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