If you’re reading this, then I’m pretty sure it’s safe to assume you know how to search for information on the web. The internet is a huge collection of knowledge right at your fingertips, all you need to do is search for any keyword, question, or phrase of what you are after and bam, you are presented with your search results. These results are also generally tailored to your preferences and location. Very convenient right? Now imagine if your internet search worked just like your file search. Clunky, inaccurate, painful and slow. It would be a disaster!

So why are businesses still using inefficient standard search functions to find important documents when we know there are better ways (like a web search) out there? In this blog, I am going to walk you through the different ways you can search for your documents, with the ultimate goal a web-like search for all your information.

The classic default search

Nothing beats a classic as they say, but is that true? If you’ve ever tried to use the default built-in search function in windows, you will know exactly just how painful and slow it is. Firstly you need to know the title of the document you are looking for, secondly, you have to know what folder or drive it is located in, then you need to hope that it is enough to help you find what you are after, as the search bar goes round and round and nothing shows. There’s no room for inaccuracies or mistakes in spelling, nothing to help with uncertainties and just all-round not very user friendly.

According to a study conducted by McKinsey Global Institute, employees working 8hrs spend on average 1.6-1.8 of those hours just searching for the information they are after. That means that each employee wastes one day a week just looking for information. If we assume each employee earns $25 an hour, that’s $200 a week ($10,400 a year) worth of time lost per employee just looking for documents! By using more advanced search functions than the generic default search option, you can expect to see a 30-35% increase in productivity as well as save that wasted money.

Tag your Documents with Metadata

Some programs, such as SharePoint, allow for the tagging of documents with metadata. These metadata tags act as additional search anchors allowing for easy keyword searches. Tags may include things such as a company, or a user’s name, and searching by these allow you to find all things related to that tag. This is great if your software allows you to tag documents with metadata and you know what tags to search for. The 2019 Intelligent Information Management Benchmark Report states that over 83% of users claim that they have to recreate documents that already exist because they can’t find it. Not only is that a huge waste of valuable time, but these extra documents only help add to the clutter and trouble finding the right document. The use of metadata tags can help ensure that users can find what they are looking for and avoid document duplication. There are still downsides with metadata searches in the fact that if you misspell or are unsure of what the tags are, you are unlikely to have much luck in your search.

Refine your results with filters

Not all information is equal. Studies have shown that over 80% of documents are created, stored and never touched again. This untouched data is not as important to you and your business as the documents you access regularly. For example, your latest and current agreement contract with a customer is more important than the expired one from 10 years ago. Metadata tags are a great tool for finding information, but when combined with a filter from an advanced search function, it can give the context of your document. This context is what allows you to filter out the important information out from the clutter. Filters can allow you to search for multiple metadata matches, filter out periods of time and many other options.  This means only the documents that match what you are after will be shown.

Additional advanced search options

Some advanced search functions can allow for the use of special characters and operators to assist in your search. These can range from characters that enforce an exact match, wildcards for any character or number, and even and/or statements. Let’s say for example you want to search for a document and it starts with 4 numbers, but you are unsure what the last digit is, you could use a special operator in the search, such as a # to replace the missing digit and it will find all results that match the first 3 numbers and show any other digit.

Full Enterprise Search

So how can it get any better? Enter M-Files. M-Files allows you to not only take advantage of all the possible options outlined above but go above and beyond with a full enterprise-level search. Entire contents of documents are indexed, meaning keyword searches will not only look in the title of a document but in the metadata and the document contents as well. M-Files is 100% metadata-driven approach means searching by metadata tags, and advanced search filters are exceptionally powerful and allow for easy finding of the right information. Search results also take into consideration several different factors, such as how recently it was last accessed, who created it, if you have searched for related documents recently and other factors. All these combine to give a document a score rating, and documents with the highest score are shown first. This results in the one you are looking for right there at the top of your search. Unsure of spelling? Don’t worry M-Files has you covered, as common spelling mistakes are accounted for with fuzzy searching. It also accounts for different versions/tense of words, so for example, if you search from “Drive” it will also show results for “Drove” but not “Driven”.  M-Files also allows for searching of all your information in one single location. Linking network folders to M-Files and other 3rd party applications such as Salesforce, you can search for information located in these locations from within M-Files, taking advantage of M-Files powerful search features. All of this allows M-Files search to work very similar to a web search and positions M-Files to be a one-stop-shop for enterprise-level information searching.  

Book in a demo to see how M-Files can maximise your businesses productivity and save you time and money.

Looking for more info? Check out the following articles from our archives.