ISO Document Control for Outside Authored Manuals

Subject: ISO Document Control for Outside Authored Manuals
From: GEORGE Grider 901/360-4002 <ggrider -at- fedex -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Mon, 26 Mar 2001 11:24:55 -0600


I?ve been tasked to build a document library as part of the ISO 9001
quality system (Section 4.18, ?document and data control?). The problem
I?m having is with outside-authored manuals.
We repair electronic equipment, some of it internally manufactured.
The manuals are authored in-house, and are frequently revised. Here we
come close to obeying the ISO mantra of ?doing what we say and saying
what we do.? Also, the home docs reside on the company intranet, leaving
no question as to where to find the latest versions and who to see about
making updates. Here, the document control system works.
It?s the externally authored documents that present the problem.
Many of our shop manuals come from the equipment manufacturers. With
these, it appears that the latest-is-the-greatest ISO system may
actually thwart the intention of the quality mandate.
Here?s the rub. Technicians usually work with a ?bench copy? of
the official text. These manuals are liberally sprinkled with
handwritten notes, written by and for the tech. Some might argue these
unofficial notes don?t belong, but anyone who?s worked on the equipment
knows better. A good cook will mark up a cookbook, and from these notes
the diners can only benefit.
And yet, according to the ISO quality system, as I read it, these
time worn shop manuals are to be demoted to a ?for reference only?
status whenever a new manual is issued. Rendered ?obsolete.? Hidden out
of sight and scratched from the list. This is where the document control
system would appear to be breaking down.
In a sentence, how does one reconcile the ISO requirements for
listing only officially updated documents against the technician?s
real-world updates? Are there any ISO folks out there who?ve faced and
solved this apparent paradox?
George Grider, tech writer


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