There’s no question that document management software (DMS) and enterprise content management (ECM) can help organization administrators and leaders streamline their internal operations process. Without a true understanding of metadata, however, these processes cannot be perfected. One way of looking at metadata is to think about it as “data about data,” but the reality is that metadata is a much more complex and frequently misunderstood concept.
Making Metadata Work for You
One factor determines whether or not an administrator is using metadata to its full benefit: whether or not they learn how to refine, augment, and redefine what metadata is in their own interpretive lights and in ways relevant to the work they need to perform. We’ve compiled below the most commonly misunderstood ideas about metadata—fully grasping them will have a huge impact on whether or not your organization is using metadata effectively.
Metadata makes documents more retrievable
One of the numerous purposes of metadata is to make it easy for users to find exactly what they’re looking for. Because items are saved using key terms, an updated program’s metadata would allow a user to simply search for what they’re looking for and find it.
For example, if a digital business was using a document management system and needed to find every file they had that involved a specific address, they could simply type in that address and find the information they needed. This is a concept that almost any business owner can easily grasp as it models search engine logic.
Metadata allows users to store documents consistently
Another issue that organizations often have when storing documents is finding ways to do so consistently. When they have dozens of employees all storing and saving documents in whatever naming format seems to work for them, it can be near impossible to find what is needed. Metadata allows for consistent storage so that no matter who is saving a document, it’s filed the way you need it to be for easy retrieval.
Metadata gives deeper insight into the occurrences of a business
Metadata can help organizations track the lifecycle of their information. They can see when certain terms are used more frequently, can track spikes in data, and can see which accounts require the most data. In many cases, depending on the type of business in question, the more data an account has, the more time it will require employees devote to it. Metadata makes it simple to track this information and can give integral insight into how an organization can work better.
Making the Most of User-added Metadata
There are numerous types of metadata, but one of the easiest to understand is user-added metadata. A common example is tracked changes and comments. To see this at work for yourself, open a new Word document right now. Type in a few lines of text, or copy text from any existing document. Then turn on “track changes” by selecting Review and clicking on Track Changes. Go ahead and make a few changes to the text, like adding or deleting text, and a few changes to the formatting.
Once you’ve made the changes, you’ll see they have all been “tracked”: additions will be underlined, deletions will be struck through, and so on. If you were to then go back to the Review tab and choose Final from the Display drop-down list, you’ll see your document as it would appear if you had accepted all of the changes. In short, you won’t see where the changes have been made. The file will appear as normal, but all your hidden edits are there to be reviewed in the event a future user needs to know where changes were made.
How Does a Document Management System Fit in?
When it comes to information management, there may be no better way to ensure your organization is making the most its time and resources than by investing in a document management system. Free demonstrations of top options like eFileCabinet are available and give organizations the opportunity to enssure they’ve found the right option before making a full investment. The world of enterprise document systems and document management systems make it possible for companies to move to a paperless office, which provides a wide range of benefits:
- Saving space
- Boosting productivity
- Easy compliance with HIPAA, FINRA, and more
- Increasing security
Any organization trying to stay competitive, offer their clients or customers top-level customer service, experience, and products must be willing to invest in the tools that will ensure quick, easy access to the information they need, when they need it. Correctly understanding metadata—and what it can do for a company—is the first step in achieving that goal.