Effective Indexing Strategies

Indexing is the method of connecting or tagging documents with different search terms and/or criteria.  When a user searches for a document, they can input a number of terms, phrases and numbers into the search field to retrieve the document. Software quickly scans the contents of the index to detect documents containing the search terms.

Indexing strategies vary for every industry.  A company’s accounting department operates much differently than say the healthcare or real estate industries.  Accounting and HR departments require specific indexing methods to keep up with the flood of data accessed on a daily basis.  AR/AP invoices are commonly indexed by invoice number, purchase order number or vendor name.  Medical records may be indexed by patient name, social security number or date of birth.  Real estate dealings are often cataloged by MLS number, buyer or seller name.  These are just a few examples of how each industry has unique strategies for tagging data within their organization’s index.

Indexing is a complicated process that must be created with precision. Most businesses would agree that finalizing an indexing structure for their electronic documents is one of the biggest challenges of going paperless.  With an experienced partner, indexing is much more manageable. Here are a couple of additional tips to help with devising effective indexing strategies…

Don’t over-index, but don’t under-index.  This is a very common problem.  It’s critical to take future searching needs into consideration when creating the index structure.  Consider the opinions of end users who are ultimately most affected by search and retrieval difficulty.

Involve your entire company in the planning stages of the indexing structure.  This is especially important if multiple departments access the same information.  Take time to collaborate with employees on an indexing scheme.  Incorporating user input and opinions is crucial because it plays a role in the success of the final product.

Make sure you have a full-text search option. Field-based indexes enable users to search titles, headlines or the indexes associated with the documents.  However, full-text provides the option to search all text within the documents. Full-text search capabilities will cross-reference documents containing similar search terms.

Lastly, call in the professionals for help in devising an indexing structure. Document management solutions providers can create options that suit your company’s needs.  An added benefit of working with an expert is their ability to locate areas where automation solutions could enhance indexing.  To learn more about developing an indexing framework that’s right for your company, contact ILM today.

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