I had a great conversation with a long-time Documentum client in regards to the need for an audit trail and reporting capabilities from his document repository. While it is something we have done in the past, I thought it would make for a good post to share that experience as well as some of the brainstorming for other uses.
1998– Medical Marketing Materials
Back in 1998, we implemented a personalized web based search and retrieval system for a Medical Marketing. The original system was Documentum Smartspace on RightSite (pre-Webtop web based client) implemented by one of our competitors.
Users struggled with the system in that:
- User had to be notified of document location (via e-mail/voicemail)
- Users found alternate ways to distribute information (email, CDs, fax, public drives)
- Lack of performance led to frustration and decreased productivity
- The system went unused (as far as we could tell)
In looking at the system, the users wanted:
- Better performance, personalized and alerts
- Speed and simplicity
- User friendly – “Leveraged the Web”
- Audit Trail to track system usage and evaluate content
- Front page portal interface to personalize (what’s new to the user) as well as provide room for future enhancements
Keep in mind that in 1998 many of the users were still dialing into the system with Modems so keeping the interface lean and mean was an absolute must. The interface evolved to feature a personalized landing page presented below.
While search and folder navigation was also included (similar to SmartSpace but less graphic intensive), the administrative user got a different interface:
The interface above let the administrator review their individual content and determine what was being used and what wasn’t being used. Clicking on the actual piece of content would show which users had accessed the content at what date/time.
The key component of the design of the system was the construction of an audit trail of who was looking at what and when. In addition to providing the administrators with more than a view count, the audit trail enabled:
- What’s New to You – for Medical Marketing, the ability to know what is the new content they haven’t looked at yet (rather than search) was a key feature.
- Last Accessed – while this might seem simple, at the time we really didn’t want users to copy the documents to their PCs as they might not look at the updates or “What’s New”
While this was a small user group (around 60 people), after a couple of months, we were able to accumulate the following stats in regards to access counts and how users were accessing content.
Key to understanding the numbers are that the statistics are for the same users AND content from the old system. Not only did retrieval increase from 270 to 1232 per month but it was clear that the front-page “What’s New to You” was helping push those numbers up.
More than the Documentum Audit Trail or just a page count
In sharing this experience with our clients, one client had us leverage the Documentum audit trail when it became available in the early part of 2001 with the 4.0 release. Some issues we had with the audit trail included:
- Performance – when on in pre-6.0 releases, while it captures everything, we noticed performance being dramatically affected.
- Large Scope – the Documentum audit trail captures almost EVERY activity against an object including retrieval of it’s attributes. In the scenario that I search for an document and retrieve a list of 100 objects, the audit trail would have 100 entries for the attribute retrieval. As of 6.0, it can/should be configured to not audit uninteresting events (ex: linked to folder).
- Get Object? – one item we struggled with was the one activity that wasn’t included in the audit trail was the only one we were interested in, the Get Content (weird at the time). This has been addressed in 6.0.
Another significant issue for most of our clients is that most of the reporting needs to happen outside of Documentum, as they have implemented a consumer cache (add link) for viewing documents. The audit trail needed to work off the cache of the system rather than from the ECM itself.
Summary – Audit Trail – Moving Forward
We would recommend a simple audit trail be created with User, Document ID and date-stamp, be created outside of the ECM vault. A simple asynchronous web service would enable the audit trail activity to be added to any document activity. Functionality for end users could include:
- What’s New and Last Accessed – as described above
- How/From Where are the document being accessed
- Who are the users that are accessing the documents
- How much content is being accessed
- Most Popular – could include last week, last 30 days, last 60 days….
- Peer Usage – what are my peers accessing?
- Training – to support learning tracks – can users push content to other users.
All of these points can really help clients focus on where best to invest in the future. In talking to the client, the audit trail could also be leveraged for other needs including:
- Security – any type of suspicious activity (looked at 200 documents today) or accessing documents out of their normal area?
- Change/Update/Retire – should a document be updated if it has been used in the last 6 months or is only used at certain times of the year.
If you have other thoughts for leveraging an audit trail for your content repository – please comment below.