Time wasted searching for documents is a problem that plagues companies of all sizes and in all industries. Several analyst firms and organizations have evaluated the impact of inefficient information management practices, and all of these studies have reinforced the widespread nature of this issue. Case in point:
- Gartner notes that it takes professionals an average of 18 minutes to locate each document.
- According to IDC, time wasted searching for corporate information costs an organization $19,732 per information worker per year, which amounts to a loss of 21.3% in an organization’s total productivity.
Using Network Folders for Document Management Results in Content Chaos
The primary reason why it takes so long to find documents is because most organizations still use a network folder approach for storing and organizing information. This outdated document management approach forces content creators to decide which folder to store a document in — and on the flip side — when someone else needs to access that document, they have to figure out which folder it resides in. If the document is a proposal for “Customer ABC” related to “Project XYZ,” — is it located in the “proposal” folder, the “customer” folder, the “project” folder, or in some other folder? Are there various versions of the document saved in one or more of these folders? The issue of quickly and easily being able to locate the right version of a document can spiral out of control in this type of chaotic file folder document management approach. By leveraging a metadata-based approach to organize information by what it is versus where it’s stored, organizations can simplify the ability to search, retrieve, process and archive documents, which in turn improves productivity, enhances employee collaboration and speeds up the decision making process. When compared to traditional folder-based approaches, metadata-driven search provides a vastly superior alternative to traditional folders by presenting content in “dynamic views” that are generated from metadata based on the context or need. In this way, a unique document can be found in different “locations” with no duplication of data. Let’s use the example I mentioned above as a reference point — a proposal can show up in a dynamic view displaying all documents, or specifically in a view displaying just proposals that is automatically organized hierarchically by customer, by project, by date, by value, by sales team, by workflow state, etc. With this approach, “folders” are simply a dynamic product of metadata rather than a static location (i.e., in a traditional network folder scheme).
Metadata-driven Search — the M-Files Way
Metadata-driven search and navigation as provided by M-Files solves an intractable shortcoming of traditional folder-based approaches that are limited to allowing a file to exist in only one location, or having copies of the file (or links to the file) reside in other folders. In M-Files, unique information shows up dynamically wherever and whenever it is needed without duplication, thereby eliminating a host of traditional ECM and workflow issues. The definition of a view in M-Files consists of a filter that specifies what content is to be shown in the view, and optionally, one or more grouping levels that define how the content that meets the filtering criteria is to be categorized into dynamic views. One can think of dynamic views as “queries” to the document repository, with the additional option of having the results presented in a folder-like hierarchy. Company-wide standard views can be set up and made accessible to everyone, or to particular departments or groups, or they can be created as personal views by an individual user. This allows all users to view the document repository based on their particular needs by creating their own personal views. To learn more about the advantages of metadata-driven search and navigation, as well as how metadata serves a superior foundation for an organization’s overall document management strategy, check out our white paper, Metadata: the Foundation for Next Generation Enterprise Content Management. Is your organization leveraging metadata as part of its document management strategy? If so, please leave a comment below and tell us about the benefits (or challenges) you’ve experienced.