You’ve digitized the entirety of your company’s records – invoices, contracts, employee information, memos, filled forms. Now what? Information is useless to us if we can’t find it. But how do you find a needle in a hay stack? The trick is to separate, label, and stratify every straw of hay. Then, finding the needle is a piece of cake! Or, it will be once we turn all of that grain into flour. With documents, organizing the hay bale involves two key processes. The first you may already know about – establishing a filing structure. That way, you don’t have to go through one giant list every time you need one little file. You can drill down through nested folders. If you know the topic you need and the relevant sub-topic, then you know where the file is. However, this doesn’t account for files which fit multiple sets of categories. Or instances when you’re unfamiliar with the filing structure or its new branches. For that and many other purposes, there is metadata. Combining the two methods yields superior document organization for your organization.
Carefully Build a Logical Filing Structure
You’d be surprised how much nuance there is to setting up a folder hierarchy. It’s not just about mimicking the filing cabinets you were using with your paper documents – you can leverage the digital medium while also taking this opportunity to shed bad habits. There’s a tightrope to walk here – you want to use folders liberally so that data is truly segmented, but you don’t want to design a labyrinth. In that case, visualize not just the process of storing new files but of also retrieving forgotten ones. Time is money. You don’t want users to take forever to find a file. So err on the side of simplicity. If you’re worried about cluttered folders, leverage nomenclature to distinguish files by date, type, creator, etc. Don’t forget to remain diligent! Don’t just save stuff to your desktop and turn it into a catch-all just like your dining room table. You need to keep up with this process in order for it to continue serving your office well. Make sure everyone else is on board as well.
Why Do I Need Metadata with My Filing Structure?
What is metadata? It sounds like something out of a futuristic movie. But it really just means data used to describe or refer to its relevant files or segmented information. So, keywords, descriptive text, a word or two about to which categories a document belongs. The purpose of metadata is twofold. It allows us to attach a series of powerful magnets to every piece of data that enters are system and then retrieve that data later with a simple search. And because metadata can be structures or also unlimited, you can use keywords infinitely for a file that gets cross-referenced by dozens of others, but you can also find a file’s meta categorizations easily and thus know where it belongs. The other purpose of metadata is to better understand how we are storing, processing, using, retrieving, and purging files from our system. Once documents have tags attached, we can run reports on these documents and how our company interacts with them. We can also handle files in bulk, processing like files at once. With certain batch indexing tools, you can even process many different files at once, the software sending them to their proper workflows or destinations automatically.
Why Not Both?
Ultimately, these two methods aren’t at odds. You can incorporate metadata into your documents while also storing them in a well-designed matrix of folders. So long as the two methods don’t get in the way of one another due to inaccuracies, redundancy is good for your business. Redundancy makes it easier to find everything more quickly. It also means that you can search or explore in a variety of ways. You can also store a file once so that parties who know the structure can find it and add to its folder with ease, but also benefit from access at multiple contextual entry points. You’re looking for a good way to combine the two, right? Enterprise Content Management is the answer. Contentverse allows you to create a complex, accessible, and secure filing structure while also tagging your files with meta descriptions and metadata as they enter the system. Sounds like needles won’t be a problem for you anymore.