A while ago I promised to write a post about Physical Records Manager (PRM) as a result of some exposure I had to the Documentum Records Manager product set.
A common theme in Documentum products and one which is true here also is that the product provides a framework for an organisation to use and to adapt to their specific needs. The core solution is indeed rich in features but is way too complex to be considered for implementation as is.
The product models a ‘Physical Record’ as an object in Documentum, one which is an extension of the standard object in Documentum to include attributes specific to a Physical Record, e.g. Location, Barcode etc…. Locations can be modelled as various items which can be nested to reflect real world concepts, e.g. Warehouses, Shelves, Bays and Boxes. This is all fairly intuitive and setting up a Physical Container model is straightforward. Creating the Physical Records is also intuitive and straightforward, the product will generate Barcodes for the physical items if this is required.
The complexity starts when considering the processing of the physical items. Physical Records, and their associated management, is akin to a Library in some respects. There is an item which has its ‘home’ location which may be temporarily owned by a third party. The loan is subject to rules on timing etc…. To loan an item PRM requires that a user creates a Library Request for the item. This may be sensible but what if the item I want is in a store in the location I am in, I simply want to go and collect the item and this recorded. Following the Library Request the actual ‘loan’ is achieved through the concept of a Charge Out. The process is unwieldy and the usability of the system not something which will lend itself to large amounts of volume, users will need something efficient and snappy to use.
To solve this problem work will be required to build on the core features of the product. The obvious way to achieve this would be through automation of the complexity through BPM. Using forms and some of the process features from BPM the complexity of the process can be removed from the user and taken into the product.