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Guarantee consistent data capture with enterprise collaboration software

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When it comes to recording and recalling data in a uniform and consistent way, none does it better than enterprise collaboration software. I’m not referring to the fact that this type of software allows everyone to partake in open and transparent communication. Of course, this begets a more uniform way of working and consequently leads to a more consistent way of gathering information, but there’s still room for variation as everyone is different. And unlike the real world where being different is lauded upon, in the world of data capture, being different is lambasted. What I’m really talking about is Document Meta Data (DMD).

Metadata describes ‘other data’. It provides information about a certain item’s content. For example, an image may include metadata that describes how large the picture is, the colour depth, the image resolution, when the image was created, and other data. Web pages often include metadata in the form of meta tags. Description and keywords meta tags are commonly used to describe the web page’s content. Most search engines use this data when adding pages to their search index. A text document’s metadata may contain information about how long the document is, who the author is, when the document was written, and a short summary of the document.

An important feature of enterprise collaboration is the ability to quickly retrieve a particular file from a library of potentially millions. A good document management solution will allow users to assign metadata information that describe the content of a document whenever it’s uploaded. This metadata, in the form of keywords and descriptions, become the means of document retrieval during a search.

You can see document metadata in action right now (on Windows). Find a document on your computer, right clicking its icon, click ‘Properties’ and then click the ‘Details’ tab. Here you will see the document metadata, usually things like author, date of creation, title, category etc.

How would DMD manifest in enterprise collaboration software?

Document metadata functionality would ordinarily be a combining of elements from the file manager module and structured database module. In the case of HighQ’s ‘Collaborate’ software this would be the ‘Files’ and ‘iSheets’ modules.

When the ‘Files’ module has been combined with an iSheet, additional fields of information (aka metadata) can be added to files uploaded to the ‘Files’ module. An example would be on a legal document where you can add metadata such as contract type, counterparty, contract value and so on. Similarly, additional fields of information can be added to the folders in the ‘Files’ module.

Combining  files or folders with iSheet data is useful for tracking additional information about the files in the site. Also, as the number of files in a site grows and the number of branches in the folder tree increases, it becomes harder and harder to locate files through simple navigation.

The way in which metadata is added is simple – just like filling in a web form. You’ll be presented with a number of tick boxes, drop downs, date fields and text fields to complete. Just like a web form, if you enter erroneous information, the system presents a red flag compelling you to re-enter in the correct way. There’s no room for human error when inputting this ‘other data’.

Organising by document metadata makes searching, sorting, filtering and categorizing data quicker and easier because all the fields are uniform and consistent. With all of this data captured in a consistent way, recalling it is as easy as using a ‘Googlesque’ search tool with filters for added convenience. You’ll find what you need in seconds.

Reasons to use document metadata functionality:

  1. Metadata allows the user to create views and lists of documents specific to their needs.
  2. Metadata allows for sorting and filtering specific to the user’s needs.
  3. Metadata can be configured to have default values based on content type to simplify document classification.
  4. Metadata allows for library configuration that enforces consistent document classification.
  5. Consistent metadata across documents within a library will help improve the user’s search results.

Applications for document metadata functionality:

Legal:

A prime example of document metadata application would be that of a law firm, where legal documents are authored by more than a few people for potentially hundreds of cases. Such documents could be indexed by metadata properties (contract dates, counterparties, vendors etc) for quick and easy retrieval, comparison and precedent determination.

Banking:

DMD is essential to transactional management. With hundreds of thousands of documents, quickly finding things like valuation figures, acquisition prices, debt type (senior, mezzanine, junior) and floating rate basis is essential to getting the deal done.

Education:

Universities, colleges and other learning institutes can append metadata information to their list of courses and syllabi. Metadata such as course title, professor, semester, course description, and course requirements can be added to the information document, so users can perform searches based on these parameters. Perhaps there is a specific professor that a student would like to be taught by. This student can either keyword search using the professor’s  name or use a filtered list to narrow down all courses taught by this professor.

Film and Music:

The film and music industry has vast libraries of information. Movie and song lists go into the millions and organising such volumes of data into easily searchable lists can be difficult. By appending metadata (artist or actor, song or movie title, album, genre, dates, writer, record label or studio etc) specific movies and songs can easily be located using keywords searches or filtered lists.

It’s clear to see that consistent data capture will go a long way towards maximising operation efficiency. In fairness, it’s difficult to really demonstrate the power of document meta data in a blog. So why not contact us or request a demo to see how useful this tool really is.
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