While document management systems are often heralded for their benefits (of which there are many), any mention of the importance of indexing documents is often left out of the conversation altogether. In reality, many of the advantages of DMS are not possible without proper indexing. This is because many of the efficiencies that come with DMS are related to time-saving aspects like convenience and searchability. If documents aren’t properly indexed to facilitate easier search and retrieval functionality, you won’t see an increase in efficiency.
Essentially, file indexing is the process of tagging and organizing documents based on different search terms, which makes it easier to categorize, and thus search for and retrieve, documents when they are needed.
Document indexing can be quite a complex process, especially if you’re just transitioning from a paper-based system. That’s why it’s important to create a plan for indexing documents that aligns with the goals and objectives of your organization. You will need to determine what documents need to be indexed, and how you want to set up indexing. There are two methods you can use when indexing a document:
Full-texting indexing – a method of document indexing that allows for documents to be searched using any text contained within, including full phrases/passages. Obviously, this type works better for text documents than images or other formats.
Field-based indexing – this method for indexing documents involves tagging with metadata, or information about the data itself. This aids in the retrieval of documents based on searching characteristics such as document type, creation date, and more.
It is recommended to use a combination of full-text and field-based when indexing files for your document management system.
Indexing documents requires interdepartmental coordination because users in multiple departments will likely need access to the same information, meaning there should be a standardized scheme in place to facilitate the process. When you are creating an indexing plan, be sure to include representatives from various departments to collaborate and establish the most effective indexing process for all end users.
Don’t over or underdo it
While many organizations run into issues because they haven’t indexed enough, over-indexing is an equally pressing issue. When you under-index, users aren’t able to conveniently locate and retrieve information – the same problem that arises with paper processes. Often, this is because the indexing process wasn’t properly planned out based on the needs of the end-user, which is why the planning phase is so crucial.
Over-indexing has a similar effect. If too many indexes are used, location and retrieval of documents is significantly hindered. Again, planning can help your organization avoid this issue, particularly if it involves a collaborative approach to establish a standardized indexing scheme.
Get help from the pros
As mentioned above, document indexing is no easy feat. And indeed, it can be significantly more complex for bigger organizations. But you don’t have to go it alone. Many document management service providers offer indexing services to help your company develop an effective indexing scheme that suits your organizational needs. They are the experts, so be sure to ask about how they can help with the indexing process before selecting a vendor.