QA-Z Consulting Specialists have explained the External Documentation part of ISO 9001’s Clause 4.2.3.
ISO 9001:2000 stipulates that external documentation received and held within the organisation must have applied controls when it comes to identification and distribution.
External Documentation may include Australian Standards, Legislative Requirements and Industry Manuals, all of which are produced and revised externally but held and referred to by the organisation in order to operate the organisation’s core and supporting processes legally and effectively.
Others may also be included and should be considered under clause 4.2.3, Control of Documents.
When it comes to Australian Standards, it is best for the organisation to subscribe to a Standards Watch Service. This means that notification is automatic as changes occur.
The external supplier of the document notifies the organisation of any revisions, then it is the Document Controller’s responsibility to ensure that this is communicated to relevant departments, that all obsolete copies are recalled and new copies distributed to ensure all documentation is relevant and accurate at all times.
Lack of effectively exercised control could have a huge impact on the operations within some organisations if not implemented throughout every department.
Some organisations use a manual system of external document control by recording each document on an inventory along with the holders of each document, and record of what clauses were changed and the date of when the revision was made.
This inventory may also include a record of who has received a new copy each time a change is made and who has discarded or recalled copies to the Document Controller. Some organisations create a distribution and collection list while others choose to create a system within Microsoft excel to monitor changes.
The most important factor is that the control must be effective throughout the entire organisation on all levels and remain consistent at all times.