Searching for Something: Tips and Tricks to Simplify your ECM Hunts

Imagine for a moment that your enterprise content management software repository is the chair in the corner of your bedroom, perpetually buried in clothes you’re reluctant to put away. They’re safe on the chair, unmoving and out of the way. You’re getting used to this system and the ease of laziness, wondering why you ever wasted time on hangers and color coordination.

Before you know it, it’s Monday morning and you’ve pressed snooze eight times. You pry yourself out of bed and search for the suit and tie you decided on the night before, only to find the suit jacket isn’t hanging up. The tie isn’t in the drawer, and even your belt is MIA. You shamefully dig through the chair pile, eventually locating the wrinkled items at the bottom of the stack. This search wasted 12 minutes, so you defeatedly don the dirty clothes and head out the door.

Many organizations experience something similar to “the chair” when trying to locate important files and media within their ECM software. Throwing documents into the wrong location and naming files in the wrong format are just a few ways to contribute to the company mess. Those hoping for correct search results within their ECM repository would benefit from working smarter, not harder.

1) Search by Document Title

If you’ve opened up a folder where a document should be and find it’s nowhere in sight, the obvious first step is to search the repository for the document’s title. Many systems also allow you to alter the search so that only certain file types show. For example, don’t spend hours sifting through PDFs when you know you’re looking for a spreadsheet––set up a filter to optimize your search time.

2) Search for Owner or Shared With

Perhaps you know which user created the file, or you’re aware of who recently performed edits. With many databases, this information could help turn up results. Some ask for the user’s name, while others will want an email address. Be sure you know which one you need so you aren’t trying to catch a bear with a rabbit trap.

3) Search by Date

Some ECM search engines allow you to filter using a file’s creation or modification date. If you’re looking for the annual holiday party invitation template, you know to search for a document that was created around November or December.

Implement Naming Conventions

This method is more proactive than reactive. Companies should have set-in-stone formulas for naming files so employees or clients are never confused as to what they’re looking for. For example, a company that uses ECM to store website content could name all fashion articles in the format Fashion.Username.Subject.Date. This format lists broad information first and evolves into specifics, which helps people make sense of what they’re looking at from the onset. If your organization is a few years in and naming formats are a mess, it could be worth it to have a team sit down and edit this data.

5) Clean up Folder Structure

Another proactive ECM strategy is to have an organized folder structure that, once again, migrates from broad to specific. If we’re keeping with the web content theme, a home page of folders might feature “Fashion, Current Events, Sports, and Editorial.” The fashion folder might feature smaller folders such as “Trends, Changes, and Spotlights.” The trends folder might still have more folders such as “Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter,” and so on. Although this format is easier to do at the beginning of ECM implementation, it’s not altogether impossible to get into later on. It is another initially time consuming process that could save loads of time later down the line.

Following this advice will help you and your company waste less time looking for important documents so you can spend time on things that really matter, or just do your laundry.

ECM Products

If you're interested in learning about specific ECM products and reading real user reviews, visit the G2 Crowd ECM category page.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *