Documentum to Alfresco Migration – TSG Compliance Solution for Regulated Industries

Last week we posted about solutions  and how Documentum and Alfresco are focused on providing solutions in different ways.  One major solution we see both Alfresco and Documentum targeting is Document Control/Compliance for life sciences, nuclear utilities and other regulated industries.  Typically control requirements affect the creation and changing of SOPs, Policies, Procedures, Test Methods, Submission Documents, Engineering Drawings, Specifications, Calculations, Design Documents, Promotional and other types of documents. This post will compare and contrast TSG’s Compliance Solution for regulated industries that supports both Documentum and Alfresco with typical Documentum solutions including DCM and D2.

Change Document and Attach to Workflow vs. Complete Intelligent Change Request Form and Attach Affected Document(s)

The biggest fundamental difference between existing Documentum approaches and the TSG Compliance Solution can be found in how a change request is created.  For most regulated industries, the change request (or Change Package) for a document needs to include four major components:

  1. Description, Reason and Justification for the Change.
  2. Changing Document(s)
  3. Supporting Document(s)
  4. Impact Assessment

Documentum solutions (D2, DCM) focus changing the document first and attaching the changed document to a workflow for review/approval.  The workflow often can be pretty basic along with some data collection points.  With a focus on the document, DCM, D2 and other Documentum solutions typically provide this data on a property page that users need to be trained to complete before creating the workflow.

The TSG Compliance Solution is based on our experience from clients over the last 17 years.  One of our first non-Documentum solutions was the CR SmartForm.  The client found that it wasn’t so much that the document(s) were being changed incorrectly, it was that, in order to efficiently approve the document(s), the system needed to include intelligence around specific data collection points regarding departments, effectivity dates and other “smart” data that could be used to better route and assist in the approval of the document.  The client had found that errors in the completion of the Change Request itself were delaying the process.  The “smart” form was a way to provide users with a more intelligent Change Request form.

The Active Wizard is the core product for our compliance solution that represents the evolution of the “smart” Change Request.  Focused on building intelligence into the Change Request form, the Active Wizard provides a dynamic form and dynamic workflow solution that allows users to configure an intelligent form that, based on how you complete it, will ask more detailed data collection points as required.  Rather than building a template workflow, the workflow is constructed dynamically from the answers on the form.  Some significant advantages of this approach over the typical Documentum approach include:

  1. Multi-document Approval – The Active Wizard allows one or more documents to be attached.  Typical Documentum solutions focused on one document at a time.
  2. Workflow Templates vs. one Dynamic Form – by providing dynamic workflow based on how the form is filled out, the user does not need to pick from multiple workflow templates but only needs to complete the dynamic form reducing user errors and training as well as reducing the IT need to maintain a workflow template library.  See related post here.
  3. Configuration vs. Code – Many times users are disappointed with Documentum solutions as, in order to provide a “smart” change request, logic needs to be programmed into properties page resulting in difficult to maintain and support program logic.  For the new D2 solution, Documentum does not provide a way to add this intelligence.  Active Wizard provides a complete configuration approach to is independent from the repository to add and maintain intelligence by the end user.

Generic Review and Approve versus Change Request Review and Approve

Documentum solutions often provide a generic workflow approach for review and approval.  One consistent complaint of a generic workflow approval interface was the approval task needs to be defined as a generic “next step”.  One old issue for many Documentum users was the “Forward” button.  In workflow terms, the user can be confused by a reject or forward option.  We had one DCM client that had estimated 17 somewhat confusing steps were required for a user to approve a change.  (See picture below)

Webtop Approval

Another problem with the Documentum solutions has to do with a workflow container for the change.  The reviewer/approver typically has to open a generic change request container that would include the documents but also require some training to be able to look at the metadata (one of the earlier mentioned 17 steps) about the change request.

The TSG Compliance Solution approval focuses on having a clear and consistent interface to approve the Change Request with minimal training.
HPI Approval

Review or approval starts with the user seeing a PDF rendition of the Change Request form to easily understand everything about the Change Request including why it was routed to the user.  The user can access all the documents, supporting documents and is presented with a clear Approve/Reject decision process (the solution also provides for delegate and user reassignment).

Other Document Control Components – Proprietary vs. Open Source

The other components of both Documentum and TSG solutions are driven by document manipulation requirements during the creation, review and approval processes.  For the most part, TSG has chosen to add these components to our solution with Open Source alternatives rather than include additional proprietary software.  Key differences include:

  • Electronic Signatures, PDF Header and Footers – TSG leverages OpenOverlay to create controlled headers, footers and signature pages.  For D2, this requires the purchase of the D2 +Pack.
  • Annotations – The TSG compliance solutions leverages our OpenAnnotate product.   OpenAnnotate provides PDF annotations without any client-side component or additional software charge.  Documentum solutions require PDF Annotation Services which requires additional software charges from Documentum as well as Adobe Acrobat installed on the client.
  • Search – TSG provides HPI Search for searching – a configurable interface.  Documentum solutions (D2 and DCM) both are still pushing a user “build a search” concept.  Please see search comparisons post.


Traditional Documentum solutions for Document Control and Compliance focus on the document edit/change first with routing/annotation and other capabilities added on for review and approval.  TSG’s Compliance Solution for Regulated Industries focuses on a user-configurable dynamic form first to describe the change and simplifies the creation of the change package and workflow approval by leveraging the data in the form.  TSG’s Compliance Solution also provides additional benefits including:

  • Leverage of open source tools for review and approval to avoid additional license costs or client installations.
  • Reduction of user errors during change creation/review/approval due to simplified interfaces
  • Ability to leverage either Documentum or Alfresco as a back-end repository
  • Open Source approach allowing client to change code if required

If you are interested in viewing the application, check out our learning zone video or recent Alfresco webinar recording.

If you have additional thoughts – please comment below.

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