An Introduction to Documentum Print Control Services

December 5, 2011 at 1:31 pm | Posted in Architecture | 3 Comments
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This is the first part of a mini series of articles on Documentum Print Control Services (PCS) and how to use it effectively.

Documentum PCS originated in the compliance products however from the 6.6 release it is a standalone product. If you haven’t worked in regulated environments before you may be a little unclear as to what its purpose is. PCS “controls” the printing of certain important documents, ensuring that a number of things happen when a “Controlled Print” takes place.

I’ll discuss the what first and then explain the why. First whenever a controlled print of a document is made that fact is recorded in the audit trail. A copy number is associated with the document and recorded in the audit trail entry; if you print another copy of the document then the copy number is incremented. In effect every print of a document is uniquely identified by object id and copy number. In fact PCS works in close tandem with Documentum PDF Stamping Services (PSS) to allow a watermark including the copy number to be overlayed on the printed document.

Additionally every printer in the organisation has to be added to the PCS configuration so controlled prints can only be made to well-known printers. Again the printer to which the print is sent is recorded in the audit trail.

Finally, subsequent to executing the controlled print, it may be necessary to record a ‘Recall’ of the print. A ‘Recall’ is recorded in the audit trail against a unique document print (the object id and copy number). The reasons for needing a recall maybe part of the operational lifecycle – one or more documents may have been superseded by an updated version and so all prints of the old version must be physically removed and that removal needs to be recorded. Alternatively it may simply be that a print was stuck in a printer or damaged or lost. It’s worth bearing in mind that when ‘Recalling’ a document with Documentum PCS the only thing that happens is that the recall is recorded in the audit trail as evidence and for reporting. PCS won’t, for example, halt print requests already sent to the printer.

A recall results in a notification sent to the inbox of interested parties. The recipient has to confirm acknowledgement of the notification, at which point a further audit trail entry is created. Thus there are 3 types of audit entry that can be created:

  1. On print
  2. On recall
  3. Recall confirmed

As pointed out in the comments both print and recall actions require the user to authenticate themselves before they are able to proceed.

So now we know what PCS does but it may not be clear why an organisation would need this functionality. As I alluded to earlier printing control is often used in regulated environments. Typical examples would be pharmaceutical or medical manufacturing, or aircraft production. These activities often take place in a factory or lab and need to follow defined and documented processes. Often this process documentation is physically printed, as online reference to the documentation is inconvenient or difficult.

In these types of scenario it is clearly essential that correct and up-to-date documentation is used by production staff (how happy would you be if certain components on the plane you are flying on were manufactured using out-of-date processes?). Not only does it make sense for management in these organisations to know there is a process to record what documentation is in use and when it is updated but in many cases regulatory authorities will required evidence that such systems are in place and demonstrated to work.

Given the above it is unsurprising that this functionality originated in the Documentum Compliance Manager (DCM) product. In earlier versions of DCM watermarking and print control were achieved using integrations with Liquent’s PDF Aqua products. However PCS was introduced as part of DCM 6.5 sp1 and became a separate product in 6.6. Controlled Print and Recall functions are provided as part of the DCM user interface but the latest release of PCS product comes with components that can be installed in the Webtop and Taskspace interfaces. This is part of EMCs policy of moving compliance functionality into the core stack and making it available to all clients rather than retaining a dependency on specialised interfaces. No doubt these features will be available in the C6 products at a later date.

The next installment will dig into the guts of the PCS architecture to see how it works.

Update (14 Dec 2012): I wonder where the new Life Sciences products announced with D7 will fit in with PCS? Will they use PCS and PSS or is there some other technology to do this?

 

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3 Comments »

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  1. Very nice description of the PCS functionality. You may also wish to mention that only authorized people can execute controlled print functionality, and there is an authentication prior to doing anything with PCS. In addition, when a print is recalled all recipients receive a ‘To Be Read’ notification of the recall and they must confirm receipt and having read the recall notification. This is then all audited, so it can be shown that people were notified and that they did respond.

  2. Thanks Charles, I’ve added those points into the text.

  3. […] series of articles on Documentum Print Control Services (PCS) and how to use it effectively. The first part provided an introduction and overview of PCS. In this article I will take a much more in-depth […]


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