There are many benefits to using electronic documents versus paper. One of those benefits is being able to do a search to quickly locate the one document that you are looking for. This takes only a matter of a few seconds in most any document management system.
But what if you are looking for more than one document? What if you need a collection of documents, like all of the contracts for customers with model number 123abc? What if you aren’t exactly sure what documents you need and only have a few pieces of information to go on? This is where you will get your money’s worth when properly configuring your document management solution.
The main approach to good document management is having good meta data or good descriptions of the documents. For instance, when you create a new contract for a customer, you want to be sure to include the customer name, that the document is “a contract” and you might want to include the model number. This is all meta data that relates to that document and this will help other users find that document.
You can get a sense of how powerful this meta data concept is by looking at the car shopping experience. Go to any online car buying site and you can specify that you want a 2017, Mustang, red, six cylinders, with leather seats. Bam! – all the cars within 50 miles that match that “meta data” will show up in the results. Best of all, you can quickly change the parameters (meta data) to look for blue or V8.
As a car shopper, you want more than just the one result. You want sufficient results so that you can research what might be best. This is also true of your documents. You want to be able to see results that include more than just documents that have the word “contract” in the title. You want to have other meta data to help filter the results and help you gather or collect the information that is most useful to you. You want meta data.
To get there with your document management system you need to follow a few simple steps. First, make sure that users are required to enter in a basic set of meta data for each document. Second, specify the type of meta data that is required by document type. For instance, invoices require vendor name, dollar amount and invoice number, while contracts require customer name, date and model number. Third, configure the search results to include all of the meta data in filterable fields so that users can find exactly the information they are looking for, whether it’s a needle or a haystack.