Section 3 of the BRC Global Standards Global Storage and Distribution Standard is concerned with the Quality Management System. The requirements of this section are normally implemented as policy within a Quality Manual. In this post we start to consider the requirements of Section 3. It begins with a need to ensure proper Document Control. This could be considered as a series of questions. In fact in preparation for certification to the BRC Global Standards Global Standard for Storage and Distribution we do recommend asking such questions as part of a “gap analysis audit”:-
What process or system do we have in place to ensure that documents are authorised and that the correct version is circulated? A register of documents showing “live documents” and an identifier on each document to include: document name or number, issue and / or revision number and date of issue / revision are commonly accepted methods.
How do we ensure that documents are detailed enough to be applied by personnel correctly, and that they remain easily accessible to relevant staff? Documents, whether policy, procedure or record must be clear and unambiguous. A good thing to do is to circulate a document to other staff within the organisation and get them to read it and give feedback on how clear and east to understand they found it. Then, via paper copy or by electronic c means, such as intranet, ensure that all working documents end up in the right place, where users can easily access them. Front line work instructions like housekeeping or hygienic storage work instructions almost certainly need to be available to warehouse. Management documents, such as annual management review policy, are likely to stay near the boardroom! Manuals and distributed “sub manuals” or appropriate authorised access into an intranet are commonly used methods.
What system(s) have we got in place to record the reason for amendments to documents and procedures? Documents will change – a new way of performing a procedure may be implemented, a new record keeping system devised or simply documents may be amended to refer to updated legislation or code of practice for instance. The key here is to maintain a document amendment history. It is crucial to know why, and how, over time, documents change. A document register can easily incorporate some space to record reason for amendment to the document, or it can be visibly shown on the document itself as a header, footer or using for instance a “track changes” function, common to the Microsoft office programmes such as Word.
What systems do we have in place to properly issue out (i.e. notify / debrief appropriate staff) changed documents? A dedicated document controller, or someone with this allocated responsibility, can ensure that manuals, sub-manuals and intranet are changed, that is, old documents rescinded and new ones inserted. They can also ensure everyone hands back copies of old documents! This is crucial – many a minor finding has been raised during audit, simply because a member of staff has been found hanging on to and using a previous document!
In our next post in this series we examine the importance of clause 3.2 Internal Audit and we’ll give you some ideas for effective internal audit technique!