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by Emerson Welch  |  August 10, 2023

How to Manage Document Versions and Improve Collaboration with Content Automation

Content Automation

Did you know that the average company we talk to produces 5-10 document versions before arriving at the final version to be published? Managing multiple document versions can be a challenge, leading to prolonged review cycles and approval processes, causing unnecessary delays in content publishing. Without a reliable document version control system, duplicated efforts, collaboration breakdowns and publishing errors are common. 

However, modern content automation offers a measurable solution by condensing document version review cycles from days. This is achieved by centralizing collation, feedback, and version control within a user-friendly, web-based, or Microsoft Word-based platform.

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Here, we explore the profound impact of content automation workflows on document version control and stakeholder collaboration, and how this transformation can boost productivity and efficiency, while ensuring regulatory compliance. 

Content Automation for Document Version Control

Document version control is crucial for optimal workflow management, and content automation platforms play a significant role in streamlining review and approval processes. With access to version history and audit trails, you can easily revisit previous versions and compare changes using the simple “track changes” view, allowing you to see who made specific changes, and where.

Another crucial feature beneficial for document version control is automatic naming. Document versions are generated automatically with appropriate names based on the document type, the current stage in the workflow e.g., draft, minor or major and the version number or reference, which eliminates ambiguity and ensures consistency. This iterative approach fosters adaptability and innovation, optimizing content to meet evolving needs.

Moreover, content automation enables all content and versions to be stored in a centralized, cloud-based content repository known as a component content management system (CCMS), making content easy to search, retrieve and even reuse content. And as these components are tagged with XML metadata when they are created by the authors in their Microsoft Word or Web browser tools, revisions are easily traced and flow effortlessly between stakeholders.

Content Automation for Collaboration 

Automated workflows play a pivotal role in streamlining review and approval processes, freeing up subject-matter experts (SMEs) and content lifecycle teams to focus on strategic opportunities. Content collaboration transcends geographical boundaries and time zones, enabling real-time feedback and communication. This level of collaboration fosters a cohesive work environment and successful document version control, where ideas are exchanged, improvements are suggested, and issues are promptly addressed.

Taking collaboration to greater heights, content automation platforms incorporate a “compare document” feature, allowing industry stakeholders to gain concurrent access to the content, to see additions, deletions, or alterations introduced by their collaborators. By locking specific sections and components, only authorized users can access them, ensuring utmost protection for crucial areas.

Content Automation

With version branching, separate lines of versions are branched off with their review and approval processes. This empowers your team to explore different paths of content development without affecting the mainline version. Stakeholders can work in parallel, making changes and updates independently without disrupting the main line of content flow, which is critical for new regulatory changes or for when a regionalized variation is required. 

Online proofing and collaboration workflows, using customizable statuses and notifications, enable teams to effortlessly track progress, stay updated on impending deadlines, and experience a well-streamlined automated content creation process that drives productivity and synergy, while ensuring industry standards are followed.

Maintaining Regulatory Compliance Among Different Versions

In highly regulated industries such as life sciences and medtech, document version control is essential for regulatory compliance. Failure to comply with industry regulations can lead to hefty fines and legal consequences. Content automation software can help, by prioritizing risk management, compliance, and consistent branding of all documentation.

Take pharmaceutical drug labeling, for example. Content for a single product label can take over 12 months to be generated or changed, going through countless revisions and approvals. The content must comply with regulation requirements to receive approval for the distribution of the product to the general public. Each label can go through multiple internal reviews, along with external reviews with health authorities, before the final version is signed off. As adverse health events are recorded and new information is obtained, those labels and associated regulatory documents are constantly updated, producing even more document versions, often without a great system for organization and collaboration. 

Content automation platforms maintain a comprehensive audit trail, ensuring full visibility into changes made to a document or content component, including the precise details of who, what, when, and where. They replace the risky method of sharing critical labeling documents via email, which amplifies version control and regulatory compliance failure, due to its disconnected decentralized process. Leveraging the right content technology ensures that highly regulated industries can stay on top of version control and improve content collaboration to maintain compliance. 

Benefits for Document Version Control and Collaboration 

In summary, by embracing automated workflows via platforms such as Quark Publishing Platform NextGen and ComplianceAuthor™, your company can experience:: 

  • Enhanced collaboration: Seamless collaboration among team members promotes real-time feedback and communication, fostering a more cohesive work environment. 
  • Improved traceability: Access to version history and comparison allows for easy tracking of changes, enabling efficient audits and risk management. 
  • Regulatory compliance: Compliance-driven workflows ensure adherence to industry standards, safeguarding the organization’s reputation and avoiding penalties. 
  • Efficient content reuse: Component-level review and approval enable safe content reuse, maintaining consistency and accuracy across documents. 
  • Reduced review cycles: Automated workflows shorten review cycles, minimizing delays and improving content development efficiency.  
Content Automation

These innovative document version control and collaboration technologies enable your organization to protect its reputation, maintain business continuity, and comply with legal obligations, all while promoting efficient collaboration and content creation.

If you’d like to know how it could deliver value for you, here’s a real customer example of how efficient version control management has transformed the content workflow.

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