What is controlled copy?

Controlled copy refers to the authoritative version of a document that has been approved for use. It is a critical element of any organization’s document control process. Here are some key points to keep in mind about controlled copy:

  • Controlled copies are the most recent, correct version of a document that has been approved for use.
  • Controlled copies are typically identified by a unique identifier, such as a serial number or version number.
  • Controlled copies are issued to specific individuals or departments who are responsible for maintaining and using the document.
  • Controlled copies must be tracked and updated in a formal manner to ensure that the most recent version is always available.
  • Controlled copies must be archived for future reference in case there are any questions or concerns about the document’s history or usage.
  • Overall, controlled copies play a critical role in helping organizations maintain accurate and up-to-date documentation. By following a rigorous process for creating, tracking, and archiving controlled copies, organizations can ensure that their documents are reliable, consistent, and trustworthy.


    Pro Tips:
    1. Understand the purpose of a controlled copy: A controlled copy is a designated version of a document or record that is tightly regulated to ensure it is accurate and up-to-date. It serves as the only authorized version of the document.

    2. Know who has access to controlled copies: Access to controlled copies should only be given to individuals who need them for their work-related activities. They should be securely stored to prevent unauthorized access.

    3. Implement proper control measures: To ensure the integrity of a controlled copy, organizations should implement strict control measures such as version control, date stamping, and limiting the number of copies in circulation.

    4. Train employees on the importance of controlled copies: Employees should receive adequate training to understand why controlled copies are essential and what measures are in place to ensure their accuracy and protection.

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    5. Regularly review and update controlled copies: Regular reviews and updates of controlled copies ensure that information is accurate and up-to-date. Organizations should, therefore, have a scheduled review process in place to ensure that documents are reviewed regularly and updated accordingly.

    Defining Controlled Copy

    Controlled copy is an important aspect of document control that serves as the official, most recent, and accurate version of a given document. It ensures that the right people in a specific location have access to the latest version of a document for various purposes ranging from compliance, regulatory, operational, and legal reasons. A controlled copy must be identified with a version number, date of approval, and the name of the approving authority. It is essential that a controlled copy must be tracked and updated in a formal manner, and archived for future use.

    Importance of Controlled Copy in Document Control

    In document control management, having a controlled copy is important as it helps to manage and control the flow of information. Controlled copies are used for reference, feedback, reviews, audits, and as proof of compliance and legality. They also ensure that only authorized persons have access to sensitive information, guarding against unauthorized access. Through controlled copies, a company is able to demonstrate their commitment to quality and consistency in their procedures and operations. This is important in ensuring that a business maintains its reputation and credibility. Not having a controlled copy can result in confusion, delays, errors, non-compliance, and financial losses.

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    How to Identify a Controlled Copy

    Identifying a controlled copy is important to ensure that the correct document is being referred to. A controlled copy is identified through various approaches such as:

    • The word ‘Controlled Copy’ is an essential feature on a controlled copy. This ensures that it can be easily identified as the approved version of the document.
    • The document must indicate the version number. This number helps to track the changes made to the document from the previous version.
    • The date of approval is also an important feature of a controlled copy. This ensures that the document is current and up-to-date.
    • The name of the approving authority is also important. This usually includes the owner of the document, quality assurance manager, and the document controller. This ensures accountability in the management of the document.

    Difference between Controlled and Uncontrolled Copies

    While both controlled and uncontrolled copies are versions of a given document, there lies a significant difference between the two. A controlled copy is an official copy that is the most recent, correct version of a document and is issued to a specific person or location. It is formally tracked and updated when changes are made, and it is archived for future use. On the other hand, an uncontrolled copy is a version of a document that is not formally tracked and updated, and is not issued to a specific person or location. This type of document is not an official copy of a document and is not intended for reference or compliance purposes.

    The Process of Tracking and Updating Controlled Copies

    The process of tracking and updating controlled copies is a systematic approach that requires proper documentation and management. The following is the process of tracking and updating controlled copies:

    • Identify and label the controlled copy with the word ‘Controlled Copy’.
    • Assign a unique document number or identifier to the controlled copy
    • Indicate the version number and the date of approval
    • The document controller is assigned the responsibility of maintaining the controlled copies and must ensure that all copies are accounted for and recorded
    • Track the distribution of the controlled copies and maintain a record of the issuance and receipt of copies
    • Update each controlled copy appropriately when changes are made
    • Retain a copy of all superseded versions of the controlled copy as part of the document control process
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    Archiving Controlled Copies: Best Practices and Regulations

    Archiving controlled copies is an important aspect of document control management. Best practices and regulations require that controlled copies must be archived for future reference and use. The following are recommended practices when archiving controlled copies:

    • Archive all controlled copies in a secure location that is easily accessible when needed
    • Maintain a record of the location of the archived copies
    • Keep a copy of the archived controlled copy as backup in case of emergencies
    • Retain the archived controlled copies for the period stipulated in the company’s document retention policy
    • Regularly review and update the document retention policy to ensure compliance with regulatory requirements

    In conclusion, controlled copy management is an essential aspect of document control. It ensures that the right people in a specific location have access to the latest version of a document, for various purposes ranging from compliance, regulatory, operational, and legal reasons. Controlled copies must be tracked and updated in a formal manner, and archived for future use. By adopting the best practices in the management of controlled copies, companies are able to demonstrate their commitment to quality and consistency in their operations and procedures.