What is version control and why is it important?

Geschreven door:

Dani Lameris, March 27, 2023

The amount of information that companies process and exchange is only increasing in the digital age. What remains, of course, is the need to search and find documents and information quickly. But this is not always obvious, as modern organizations deal with a continuous flow of documents. These are not static files. On the contrary: people revise and modify them, creating new versions.

Received an old and no longer current version of a document? Information lost when merging documents? Or a colleague who has a different version of a document on his screen than you do? These are probably recognizable situations that you have already encountered. Especially if you work in multiple systems and storage locations, the risk of a proliferation of different versions grows.

For project managers, professionals for whom overview is necessary, this can be extremely frustrating. Not only that, the work also becomes a hindrance. They need a grip on their projects, so teams can always get started quickly with the right documents and their most important tasks. Version control offers a solution and means that you keep and document the various versions of and changes within (creation, additions, deleted parts, final version) of a document in a structured and central environment.

Good version control ensures that everyone always and everywhere works with the correct and most up-to-date version of a document. The working method can be applied to any document type: from construction drawings and interim reports to quotations and financial reports. But how does modern version control work? And what are the advantages of this orderly approach? You read it below.

Collega's overleggen over een document en versiebeheer.
Due to automatic version control, you always know you have the latest version.

How does version control work?

An important basic principle of version control is that you make documents digitally available in one fixed, central location to people with the correct access and editing rights. Version control allows you to make changes to a document together with team members, both simultaneously and independently.

Another important pillar of version control is that you can always trace changes and additions over time. You can check exactly who made a specific change and when (date and time). You can also provide a document with a status. For example, think of ‘draft’, ‘second version’ or ‘final’.

With automatic version control you even ensure that every changed document gets a new version number that matches the previous one. This way you always know for sure that you are working with the correct version, while you can always view old versions. And if you want to be sure that you have the latest version in front of you, it is also possible to place a QR code on a document in a good Document Management System (DMS). By scanning the QR code on a document, you will know in no time whether you are working with the correct version.

Long searches for the right document in various folders? With good version control, it is definitely a thing of the past.

What are the perks of version control?

From an efficiency, productivity and security point of view, version control has several advantages. We briefly list the most important ones.

Less searching

Long searches for the right document in various folders? With good version control, this is a thing of the past because everything you need can be found in one central place. The result? The throughput time of processes decreases and employees can spend more time on tasks that really add value to your service.

No mistakes and misunderstandings

Without version control, there is a chance that you provide employees, suppliers or customers with incorrect or incomplete information, for example because you base a decision or advice on outdated information from an old version of a document. Good version control ensures that decisions always stem from an up-to-date and complete data landscape.

Less storage space

If you apply (automatic) version management, you do not have to save a separate copy of the original file after every change and with every new version. You see all changes in the same document and can see the older version(s) in that file. You can also revert a document to an old version if you wish. Saving a lot of storage space is therefore perfectly possible with version management of documents.

More security

Version control contributes to a more secure handling of important documents. You no longer accidentally work in old and different versions and you no longer run the risk of sending the wrong versions to customers, colleagues, suppliers or business partners. Moreover, version control makes it possible to link a detailed and watertight system of access and editing rights to specific persons, roles and functions.

No more manually adjusting version numbers

If you apply automatic version management, manually adjusting version numbers is a thing of the past. This saves a lot of time and makes the process of editing and saving less error-prone.

This is not possible without version control, which makes this functionality an indispensable part of a document management system.

Version control is indispensable in a document management system (DMS)

Version control is an indispensable part of a document management system. Automate, digitize and streamline document and information flows within your organization with a DMS. The result? A solid foundation for efficient, safe and error-free business processes. The core task of a DMS is to make information available to the right person at the right time. This is not possible without version control, which makes this functionality an indispensable part of a document management system.

Read more about what document management entails.