Metadata Must-Dos

It’s no exaggeration to assert that having a measured approach to metadata helps ensure that the information in Laserfiche is findable, can launch workflows, and automate records series assignments. I’ve seen agencies not spend the necessary time to programmatically design and they end up having to redo later which is a lot of extra work. Here goes:

Data About Data

Metadata has been defined as “data describing the context, content, and structure of records, their management through time.” The use of metadata supports methods to Identify, authenticate, locate, and manage resources in a particular and homogeneous way that meets compliance and archival requirements.

Three Best Practices

Metadata is accessed and added to by both users and administrators. Users leverage metadata to update a search, modify a document, or organize their repository. Administrators, obviously, have more control over metadata such as modify the types of metadata needed upon capture, granting permissions, and determining the rules. When establishing the metadata “system” the administrator should (in tandem with your reseller) create a set of documented best practices that will benefit the entire agency.

  • Deliberate and careful design of your metadata is critical to your ECM implementation’s success. Designing in advance prevents issues that can arise from impromptu metadata assignment which can result in duplicate fields, documents that can’t be found, and a cluttered repository. For example, if you plan in advance you can create a single “Vendor” field that can be used for all templates in the Finance Department. This method will reduce the number of fields a user must navigate and will simplify search and retrieval. Contrastingly, if users create fields willy-nilly one might create an “Invoice Vendor” field while another creates an “Invoice Report” field, however, both would contain unnecessary repetition of vendor names.

  • As a best practice, you should balance using as few template fields (and templates) as possible. When agencies use many metadata types, it can slow performance such as search speed. it’s not necessary to have five different “Customer” fields just because you have five different templates. If all of those fields will contain a customer name, you should create a single “Customer” field and use it in all of the templates.

  • It is generally agreed that there are three types of metadata: descriptive, structural, and administrative. Descriptive metadata describes a resource for purposes of discovery and identification. It can include elements such as title, abstract, author, and keywords. Structural metadata indicates how compound objects are put together, for example, how documents are collated to build a case file. Administrative metadata provides information to help manage a resource, such as when and how it was created, file type and other technical information, and who can access it. Administrative metadata is used for records management and archival purposes. When trying to decide what type of metadata to use, consider how the information will be used, and choose the variety most suited to the task.

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