Documentum – Replacing External SharePoint Sites with a Simple Cached Approach

Many clients struggle with providing Documentum access to external users.  Often times, access to “full featured” interfaces like D2 or Webtop can overwhelm simple retrieval of limited content.  This post will discuss a simple solution developed for one of our clients.

Replacing SharePoint Sites

This application was required to provide selective view-only access to external users so they would only see the subset of quality documents applicable to them.   For example, external users participating in a clinical trial, safety study or manufacturing process are expected to abide by specific Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) or Manufacturing Instructions. The external users do not need access to all quality documents, but need access to the specific documents that they are expected to follow for the business process. Previously numerous SharePoint sites were set up to allow external users to access the required documents.   The client found that the work effort to maintain these separate copies and keep them up to date was very difficult and was looking for an easier way. The client was also concerned about the compliance risk of the SharePoint sites being out of sync with the Approved and Effective documents stored in Documentum.

Simple Interface approach

As we have discussed previously, many clients leverage either Web Caching Services or our OpenMigrate product to push approved documents out of Documentum.  Many of our clients deploy this type of solution with a “Search” interface for a large number of documents.  In the case of this interface, a search wasn’t required as the external users only had to see a small subset of the documents that related to their business process. For this application, all of the documents required already existed in a cache in PDF format.  External users that weren’t allowed to search, they just needed access to their subset of documents.

TSG developed was an administrative application to allow internal business users to maintain multiple groups, assign external users and identify assigned documents.  Upon access to the application, the external users would see their list of assigned documents but not a search interface.  If the user selected a document, the current approved or effective version would be pulled from the cache and displayed to the user.

A few important notes:

  • User Authentication -All external users need to be authenticated prior to logging in. We required that each user have an Active Directory account and verified passwords against Active Directory
  • Application Governance for Groups – A key requirement was for governance over the creation and naming of groups.  Multiple business units around the world were planning on using this application and the client wanted to ensure that admin users could easily identify why groups were created and what they were being used for. If everyone used their own naming convention, group lists would quickly become difficult to navigate through.  There were discussions over viewing and editing others’ groups. In the end we choose not to enforce a strict security model or group naming conventions via the application and just documented the naming convention rules in the application.
  • Quick User Adoption –After 3 weeks over 900 users were signed up. This is great news and more than we could have ever anticipated.

Please respond with comments or other use cases for selective document sharing with external vendors.

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