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What is document version control?

Document version control is a necessary addition to situations that involve multiple users collaborating on a document.

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Document version control overview

Document version control, sometimes called revision control or source control, refers to the management of changes to documents and other structured and unstructured information. With document version control software, multiple users can work on the same document, eliminating the creation of multiple and differing versions.

Document version control allows a user to “check out” and lock a document while it is being worked on, so only one person is editing the document at a time. Once the item is “checked in,” it can be edited by someone new.

The importance of document version control

Here’s why growing businesses make the shift to document management and version control systems:

Historical tracking

Over time, edits on a single document by many users will start to look confusing. Implementing a document version control system will make it simple for various users to access multiple earlier versions of files and projects — even in sudden data losses or computer failure. Accountability and visibility are also improved during collaboration, and organizations can track which team members have edited specific documents.

Audit trails for regulatory compliance

Organizations with governance, risk and compliance requirements can use document version control software to verify and track data with thorough audit trails and log history. This is done by accurately monitoring the entire document lifecycle from creation to final disposition — ensuring that they meet fast-changing regulatory compliance standards.

> Read more | View a breakdown of document retention periods and guidelines

Permission controls to regulate confidential information

When it comes to who can access and modify your organization’s information, all your files should have clear, regulated controls. Permissions can be tailored according to document types and accesses can be granted or revoked at any point with the right document version control software.

Examples of good document version control

Each document version control strategy is tailored to meet certain business goals, from achieving document standardization, increasing accountability or streamlining collaboration. Good document version control happens when:

Administrators can easily share files with controlled permissions

In cases that require collaboration between many users, not implementing proper document version control is risky. Employees could be forced to use external programs and other file editors to view, annotate and share, which makes tracking versions and user edits a difficult task. Deploying a centralized platform allows administrators to control the permissions that determine who is allowed to view and edit files, while also ‘locking’ and protecting them from unauthorized modifications.

Work is retrievable even after software crashes and manual errors

Employees with specific permissions should be able to track all previous versions of a document and revert to them if need be. In the event of computer malfunctions or information losses, data is still preserved without having to slow down work processes by manually re-entering data from memory.

Everyone has access to one controlled document when collaborating

Depending on multiple editing applications leads to duplicate versions of the same document. Using a document version control platform ensures that users do not confuse ‘old’ files for their updated versions and work on the wrong documents. Controlled documentation  or the practice of using one master document to track changes  keeps all collaborators on the same page and does away with documents of the same nature and content taking up unnecessary storage in your system.

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Guidelines for greater document version control efficiency

Good document version control strategies include:

  • Deploying systematic and understandable file naming standards to enable faster document searches 
  • Using workflows to notify relevant users on pending actions
  • Opting for a cloud-based document control solutions provider to protect and backup all data Locking finalized documents or setting “read-only” accesses in place to avoid unauthorized modifications
  • Allowing for documents to be accessible to external users (customers, patients, students, etc.)

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> Read more | How an electronic document management system (EDMS) facilitates version control 

How the OnBase document version control software helps businesses

OnBase gives organizations the ability to manage the creation, revision and distribution of critical business documents. It centralizes the management of changing business documents and provides offline synchronization for remote users, ensuring that everyone accesses the most up-to-date version of the document.

No more concerns that:

  • Employees or customers are working from old versions
  • Important notations disappear with the paper they were written on
  • There are document or keyword inconsistencies

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