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Doc Control in Confluence

Mykhailo Pavliuk November 27, 2023

Hi Folks,

So some time ago at work I was approached by someone with a task that got me a little stumped. Person who requested this is an old school Production Quality Systems employee who does doc control (old school as in in their last job they printed out the assembly line instructions, stamped them and later distributed)

Topic of this discussion is: how good can document control be in out of the box Confluence?

I am not looking at options like Comala kit or other paid plugins.

The idea is to provide people with ability to have a single space with approved technical documentation & instructions that also includes control over the process of submitting this documentation and approving it. What I had in mind:

  • Create a public space with three "parent" pages: Inbox, In Review, and Published. 
  • People who need to create and publish piece of doc submit it in Inbox, which is open for everybody to edit and create. 
  • QC then moves it under "In Review" page, that has additional hierarchy for different departments like HR, Production, etc
  • Under specific hierarchy we apply restrictions that only allow to see/edit the doc people who contribute to development or approval process. 
  • After it is reviewed and completed, it is moved to third "directory" Published, that everyone can see but only space admins can edit. 
  • If people need to copy anything onto their department spaces, they can use Excerpt Include macro (which is a whole separate task itself to train people to use)

Apart from general awkwardness of this flow, here are some problematic areas that I seek second opinions on:

  1. How to handle the approval: requester of this seem to dislike the idea of people having to approve through comments, but I see nothing wrong with it. There is option to add table with some kind of RACI matrix and "approve" checkbox, but then again we have no control over who ticks whose box: if you can edit the doc, you can tick all boxes. Other problem area here is that ticking all boxes doesn't trigger any event that can notify the creator / QC. 
  2. How to handle revision: Some docs likely need to be revisioned quarterly/annually. I don't see options in Confluence to Automate notifications about page that hasn't been edited since X / was created X days ago. 
  3. How to make life a little easier for QC and instead of moving the page under different hierarchy provide them with an automated solution. 

In general I feel like this process would work better in Jira, but then all the actual text would have to be in attached word or google doc in each issue which sucks big time. 

Have you ever tried to tackle set up like this? Is there a best practice from Atlassian for doc control process that I clearly missed? Should I just tell the C-level involved to invest in software that was specifically designed for this (which is obviously the easiest choice bit still I wanted to find out :) ) 

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marc -Collabello--Phase Locked-
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November 27, 2023

Hi @Mykhailo Pavliuk ,

Yes, I have seen people set up a system like this.

If your teams has discipline, you can set up multiple spaces in which the documents have different states (e.g. editable, reviewable, published), and then move the documents around according to their state.

However there's a reason why there are multiple Document Control addons in the marketplace (we make Document Control for Confluence Cloud), because the process is manual and sometimes is not according to compliance rules.

If you want to go without an addon, I can recommend to also look into Confluence automation.  This e.g. allows you to trigger a document move once you apply a specific label to a document.

I'd advise against doing approvals with a standard checkbox:  you won't know who approved what.  Probably approving through comments works better.  But the disadvantage of comments is that they are not exported to PDF by default.

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Mykhailo Pavliuk November 27, 2023

hi @marc -Collabello--Phase Locked- ,

Confluence automation is locked behind premium plan, and we are, sadly, on standard. 

I agree that this will likely be more of a training and discipline issue rather than technical implementation. 

Matteo Gubellini _SoftComply_
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November 27, 2023

Hi @Mykhailo Pavliuk,

I agree with Marc above that the out of the box Confluence is not very strict and lacks a lot of basic features like workflows and proper electronic signatures. Approval by checkbox is not advisable and can be challenged from a legal standpoint. Comments are better but still quite weak.
We work with Regulated Industries and have our own App for Document Management, which ticks most of the boxes in your list. Pages are moved automatically between space and permissions set automatically too, see SoftComply Document Manager.  It is designed to take care of all compliance aspects of document management in Confluence.
An App like ours, Comala or the one Marc suggested is pretty much a must for this purpose. We also have Apps such as Snapshot App and Change History for Comala that complement Comala Doc Management for features that are not available in these apps.

Matteo

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Mykhailo Pavliuk November 27, 2023

Hi @Matteo Gubellini _SoftComply_ ,

Yeah, these are all good suggestions.

I guess following strict page structure with restrictions and comments is the best one can do without involving additional costs. 

Chris C _ Digital Rose December 4, 2023

Hi @Mykhailo Pavliuk,  I hope your DIY approvals system is successful.   If you end up deciding your team needs a more robust document control system,  we suggest also evaluating eSign Document Management.   

It addresses most of your use cases above including automated revision numbering,  reviews,  publishing to a separate space and managed training.  As a new app it is competitively priced.  

Regards,
Chris C. 
Digital Rose

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