Hello Christina !
I think you have also over looked the drawings or assemblies created out of the parts which you are going to rename after you check-in.
I feel the easiest way (with lot of limitations) is to use Items for generation the part numbers for Configurations and put them to follow a workflow.
I hope you got what i am trying to say.
Let me know your thoughts on this.
Actually I'm not entirely sure that I'm following you... I'm not very familiar with Items at all.
I hadn't thought about the drawing files... but that is something I need to take into account for sure since the drawings need to be named after the configuration of the part.
you can create a serial # and then tie it to a template and then in SW, when you create a new part, or use copy tree, you can choose which part/assemb. template to use and this can grab the next available serial num. So you have to create a new serial num for each part template. this is set up in the EPDM admin tool.