Finding Balance in Metadata

Finding Balance in Metadata

Metadata: Have You Found the Right Balance?

Searching for the right item can be stressful and time consuming. Especially when you don’t have a lot of information about the item to locate or when there are too many places to search or too many items to sift through.

It happens enough in daily life:

“Can I find the birthday gift for my wife that will delight her?”

“I left the library card in the house—somewhere. Could you find it please?”

“There are some keys in the kitchen junk drawer; one of them must fit this lock I found in the garage.”

Can you feel the minutes melting into frustrating hours as a search drags on? And it only gets more tedious in the digital world.

There are over 3.0 billion digital citizens creating 2.5 quintillion bytes of data each day. If every person on the planet had access to a standard 32 GB tablet, we would fill eight of them a day with new information. Every day! Trying to find the right file in your ever-expanding data repositories can be worse than locating the wedding VHS in the garage.

Metadata provides the context to your content in order to make it consistently findable. Like great art, you want your content to ‘pop’ when applications search across your data canvas. The method for creating the ‘pop’ is the tag. Too few tags will increase your data search time; too many tags will increase your data entry time.

Getting it right is possible, and here are some tips in the proper use of metadata to find what you need:

  • Hope is not a strategy.
    Don’t be the person who doesn’t care about metadata because you store all your documents in that one folder. You know, that You hope you’ll be able to recover it when you need it, but, to be honest, the deck is stacked against you. The bigger problem is nobody else knows about it.
  • Too much of a good thing.
    On the other end of the spectrum is too much metadata. Consider a law firm that sorts data using 34 different criteria. Every time a document is uploaded, the submitter must scroll through 34 different lists and select the proper tag to categorize the item. The process becomes too cumbersome, wasting precious time and money. In daily use, staff simply ignores or shortcuts the process.
  • Find your balance.
    You should first eliminate “system” metadata—any value which can be auto-populated by the system in any way: “date created,” “created by,” “version number.” Metadata is intended to aid in search results—if it’s not part of a search, don’t include it in your metadata. ‘User’ metadata are the tags your users need to upload and update documents. Aim for four to eight tags, with pre-defined values to avoid free-form entries.

Remember that implementing metadata offers additional benefits: easier searches, tightened security, and efficient cleanup. Metadata can also reduce folder levels and increase ease of navigation.

Here’s the bottom line: The easier it is for people to find files, the less time they spend hunting for data and documents. And, as is almost always true, saved time translates directly to saved dollars.

When you’re ready to make the most of your ECM, FileFacets can help you build metadata models and tag content. Let us help you unleash the power of an ECM with metadata.