Searching and retrieving information stored in an organization has become an art and not a science. Knowing the right phrase or word combination has become the trick to quickly locating the information needed. Worse yet, once you get the search results, you still need to decide on the right file and whether to trust it or not. Creating an Information Catalog will help solve this problem by collecting information and organizing them into common groups that can provide users with an overall aggregated view of their information. This allows the users to narrow their search down to a category and then using search criteria, quickly find the information they are looking for. This decrease in the number of files needed to be searched increases the overall reliability in the search results.
The information catalog is the collection of information organized by common groups that provide users with an overall logical view of their diverse set of information. Building an information catalog from the diverse set of repositories formed by years of document hoarding is a daunting task. Documents today are maintained in many repositories, including email, file shares, Google Drive, Dropbox and SharePoint, to name just a few. Manually reviewing and organizing the vast quantity of information is seen as an impossible task. It is critical in the implementation process to identify and separate the documents that require management from those that can be either deleted or simply left alone. Utilizing an automated information identification tool that scans, groups and indexes the huge amounts of an organization’s unstructured data is the best approach to accomplishing this time-consuming task. These tools are able to differentiate all sorts of file types such as contracts from employment agreements (see figure 1).
Figure 1 – Automating the Discovery Process
Once created, the Information Catalog can be used to simplify search while increasing the accuracy of the results (see How to understand what business data you have). Searching for information has moved away from the Google like interface that required the user to have an in-depth knowledge of the information they are search for. The new interface that has gained traction is based on a faceted search. Faceted search is a technique which involves augmenting traditional search techniques with a faceted navigation system, allowing users to narrow down search results by applying multiple filters based on faceted classification of the items. Using a faceted approach narrows the search results allowing the user an easier time to evaluate and select the right document.
The categorization and tagging contained in the Information Catalog creates the facets a user requires to effectively narrow the search results.
As stated above, traditional search strategies require that the user have in-depth knowledge of the information they are looking for. The better their knowledge of information the better the search results. Like me, I am sure that we have all typed into a search engine a sentence, such as “Show me all the contracts for Vendor A”, hoping that we get some relevant results. What we get back is an abundance of results that we are left to sift through in order to find something that addresses our question.
Using the DocAuthority Information Catalog as a starting point leads to a more targeted search strategy that isolates the collection the information that is included in the search. Let’s walk through an example on how using DocAuthority’s categorization of information can help in creating a targeted search.
Select the File Group that contains the information you are looking for. In this case, I chose Job Descriptions. Filter your view by the file group.
We know that the subset of documents we want to find contains credit card information. We decide to filter the set of documents by the tag associated to credit card patterns.
Now that we have narrowed down the number of documents to search from 167,000 to 54, we are able to enter the specific information, such as name or ID number, to find the exact document or set of documents that contain the information we are looking for.
This approach will limit the number of files returned and yield the highest result accuracy. It has been shown that using a faceted approach will yield better specificity in the results and requires a bit less knowledge on exact the search criteria.
Another use for faceted search is eDiscovery. Narrowing down the scope of the search streamlines the requestor's ability to find the documents they need amid a universe of information. It also has the advantage of minimizing the costs involved in finding the relevant information. DocAuthority can help you not only find files quickly and easily, but make reporting on them as simple as a couple of clicks on your mouse.
Alan is a senior information management leader and AIIM Fellow focusing on helping organizations maximize the value of their information. Alan is a leading expert on multiple aspects of enterprise information management (EIM) including information governance (both data and content governance), enterprise content management, data management, digital rights management, and digital asset management. Get in touch with Alan on LinkedIn and Twitter.
by Alan Weintraub January 2019
by Mike Quinn December 2018