The drive towards dynamic documents for specifications and standards
Your choice of specification management system can make the difference between consistency and control or uncontrolled proliferation of vital data about your business. Most businesses today must manage a significant quantity of such information, spanning assets, brands, spaces and beyond.
Whenever a business wants to make changes and decisions about its facilities, equipment or operations, it needs information easily at hand. How specifications, standards, manuals and datasheets are stored, managed and made easily accessible is a business-critical matter.
Documents can be difficult – unless they’re dynamic
The reality of managing ever-expanding information in any business is that with volume comes increasing complexity. This problem lies at the heart of numerous issues facing modern businesses as they try to simplify their systems and use of information. They must work to keep it optimally accessible and valuable to ensure their systems can flex to cope with ongoing change as they grow.
When the volume of information in question resides in documents in an array of different formats and styles, that problem is significantly compounded. Managers, decision-makers and operators in numerous functions rely on company specifications, policies and standards to do their job, to exchange information and maintain consistency.
In our previous article “Are file sharing systems giving your business the control it needs?” we identified several of the drawbacks of relying on information held within electronic document management solutions – whether they are web-based, or not. We discussed how database-driven content management systems that hold a single repository of unconflicted specification information can support solid decisions, by avoiding too much duplication and version differentiation.
Database management system advantages
There are more reasons why many companies are switching to database-driven content and specification management systems to hold their design data, specifications, standards, policies and more.
- Document downfalls – the automation that makes desktop document production so effortless for users becomes a headache for managing manuals and documentation in the long run. It is far too easy for individuals to alter documents, create version differences, and save documents in multiple locations. Things like automatic pagination, page sizing and numbering make changes in content hard to keep track of. Whole manuals and guides are often re-generated after accidental page numbering changes or unmanaged editing. With a smart digital design specification management solution, the format remains flexible. Information can be formatted to suit the user’s device or browser. It is not forced into a specific document format.
- Fixed layout constraints – typically information is presented in pre-determined formats and combinations of documents, but the consistency of approach is constantly subject to drift as individuals creating documents think they can make incremental improvements. A lighting schedule might be accompanied by a stack of datasheets for each standard fitting and list of consumables but the consistency of these can easily vary. Dynamic information that comes from a single central database source can be compiled into any number of required standard views, without any risk of contradiction, and maintaining the consistency of approach.
- Multiple owners often means no owner at all – the content of each individual document is ultimately determined by its creator or contributors, and even with electronic management of those documents there is in theory nothing to stop either duplication, contradiction, conflict and deficiencies in completeness. It means that a single, complete, comprehensive overview of all the documents that go to make up the overall set of specifications and standards is simply not possible. A rigorous data structure in a digital design specification system will ensure every type of information has a place and a clear designation – so you can easily see when information is missing or duplicated.
Have you read our earlier article? If not, you can find it here: Are file sharing systems giving your business the control it needs?
If you’re interested to keep all design, standards, policies and other information under control in one database-driven location, why not check out the IconSystem mobile digital specification solution