From HR departments to Development teams, it is standard operating procedure to ask employees to acknowledge that they’ve read a document. These “read acknowledgments” ensure that the right people are reading the documents, and they also serve as an audit trail tracking users’ compliance to documents they’ve read. There is no native functionality for this within Atlassian Confluence, but it is possible when paired with Comala Workflows, thanks to the app’s Read Confirmations feature. 

Comala Workflows and Confluence are an integral piece of many teams’ document control system. However, more and more teams are using Workflows to go beyond just managing documents, to actually managing how work gets done. This is referred to as “process management”, the act of utilizing technology to move work forward.

Process Management

The first step of any process is informing every team member of its requirements. While verbal instructions may work in some instances, most teams function better using documentation to codify and store processes, thereby ensuring they are completed the same way every time. From the printed crew manual hanging in a fast food kitchen, to NASA’s emergency preparedness plans, approved process documents outline how work should get done. 

The easiest way to produce and disseminate information to the team is via some kind of electronic document repository. In the past this was achieved using software like MS Word combined with internal servers. But that system has significant drawbacks, not the least of which is the difficulty in collaborating with team members on documents. Forward thinking companies are choosing to use more modern systems like Confluence, which allows teams a better experience when building out their process pages.

Process control becomes even more important in teams where compliance is a concern. Quality processes need quality documents. Staying compliant with standards like FDA Title 21 CFR Part 11, ISO 9001 or 13485, or GxP, means ensuring that processes are documented, and also that those processes are being followed. 

How Read Confirmations Feeds into Process Control

Document repositories can house all the content needed to give direction to teams, but the quality of the requirements document is irrelevant if the team does not actually read it. Management/stakeholders invest significant time and resources in getting process content created, but it’s the read confirmation step that actually ensures teams see it. That’s why many companies find it critical to have a read confirmation function in their document management system.

A basic read confirmation process can be very simple, but the drawback of simple methods is that they don’t scale. For example, getting a team member to confirm they’ve read a document could be as easy as having them physically sign the document, and then keeping the signed copy in storage. But, administration for this document will be quite complicated. Every time the document is updated, the team member will need to sign a new one, and be given a reference copy. The signed copies will need to be stored, and old versions disposed of. Finally, whomever manages all the sign-offs will need to invest significant effort into staying on top of who has signed, and who is yet to sign.

That’s why electronic read confirmations are a lifesaver. They automatically assign team members to read pages, and keep track of who has acknowledged reading them. Comala Workflows’s built-in read confirmations feature works in this way. Teams collaborate on building documentation in Confluence, then that documentation is approved with Workflows, and a read confirmation is utilized to assign users to read those documents.

Real-world Example – Product Requirements for Software Development

Electronic read acknowledgements are used across a wide range of industries. This example comes from the software world, and actually refers to the process that Comalatech uses for managing our own development process.

Every software developer knows the importance of building good requirements documents. Requirements form the “bible” that outlines exactly how a product should be built, and software developers need to read it to understand the features, scope, and deliverables related to the project. 

Comala Workflows’ reviews, approvals, and read confirmations streamline the process of managing requirements for software development. Here’s how it can be achieved:

  1. The product owner creates requirements inside of Confluence
  2. A Comala Workflows’ review cycle begins, restricting page visibility and assigning approvals
  3. The requirements are approved via Workflows, and page restrictions are automatically removed
  4. A Workflows’ read confirmation starts, and developers acknowledge they’ve read the document
  5. Changes to the requirements are logged in Confluence, and must be re-approved

This process is repeatable across every development project, and will ensure that requirements are approved and read by all of the right team members. 

Try Using Read Confirmations Today

If it sounds like your team could use read confirmations for your controlled documents, you’ll want to try Comala Workflows. Just like all of the Atlassian Marketplace apps, Workflows is available as a 30-day free evaluation, allowing you to experiment with your own workflows, approval processes, and read confirmations. Need more information about the app? You may want to watch one of our webinars. Or, feel free to reach out directly to us at sales@comalatech.com.