ECM Best Practices: Document Capture & Metadata Collection

The term “Data Strategy” and can be used to understand strategic requirements for enterprise metadata concepts and best practices.  Why is this important for an ECM solution?  The simple answer is why contribute to the disarray of an organizations data management when implementing an ECM solution.

The key to a successful ECM system is the ability for users to easily and quickly find information within the repository.  If specific information cannot be easily and quickly found, users may not be enthusiastic about using the system.

The biggest stumbling block in the way of finding specific or relevant information is when the search returns too many documents that the user will have to physically look through before finding the specific document or set of documents that exactly meet their requirements.

In order to prevent this impedance to effective document retrieval, organizations have to be able to refine the population of documents that are searched so that irrelevant information is not selected and returned in the query result set.

In a well designed ECM system, this is accomplished by using metadata (or taxonomy’s) to limit the search result set to items which meet  the user’s selected parameters (i.e. date range, case number, document type, etc.).  Metadata is used to describe content that the ECM system intakes.

Metadata not only provides a way to index (and therefore retrieve) content but also it provides the means of managing content throughout its lifecycle.  For a document or item of content, this means data about it such as its author, its title, the issue date, and other information which can usefully be associated with it.

Whether you are using ILINX Capture, Kofax Ascent Capture, or Captovation users will have to enter some metadata, though as much as possible should be created and collected automatically if possible given the document sources, types, and available databases linked to documents.  It is important to get the balance right, too few mandatory elements may result in little metadata being entered, too many mandatory elements may be seen as a tedious chore.

Consistency and accuracy of metadata values is crucial to the value of metadata.  Controlled vocabularies, pick lists, default values and inheritance are all important tools and techniques in this context.

When designing a system the recommendation is to apply metadata to all documents that are expected to be found easily in a query and all documents that are stored as “final” archived records in the ECM repository.  This process will be essential in the user adoption and success of the system.  For more information please visit the North West’s premier conference at and register for one of the ECM break out sessions.

Jon Sutherland
Sr. Systems Engineer

ImageSource, Inc.