Designing Your Metadata: Three Questions to Consider

Metadata on whiteboard small

When we spun Tagence off, I was determined not to be like the cobbler whose children had no shoes: we were going to use what we sell, and follow our own advice. So we are in the process of setting up our new enterprise information system using M-Files.

The M-Files technology itself is easy to use, fast and intuitive. Our cloud vault was up and running the day after we placed our order. We’ve messed around with it for a week now, and I’m ready to nail down the metadata structure and permissions.

Here are the questions we’re asking ourselves:

  1. What business problems do we want to solve? For example, we’re growing, so it would be great to have all the new-employee paperwork, training and policy check-offs in one place, with a nice onboarding workflow. We can use the metadata structure to link the new employee to a manager and a department, to identify forms that are required for payroll, and to give the new employee access to all the documents they need to do their job – and only to those documents.
  2. Who is going to use the metadata, and for what? My accounting experience tells me it’s always best to start with the end in mind — when you know what information you want to get out, you can decide what to put in, and you’ll get more accurate results by asking for less data entry. Do we need the new employee’s hire date, birth date, home address and phone number in the metadata of our file system? Unlikely. Leave it in the payroll system.
  3. What are we going to need next year? Right now we’re small and tight-knit enough that we don’t need much in the way of approval workflows, but that will change as we grow. As we design the M-Files vault, I’m keeping growth in mind, and trying to develop a flexible structure that can expand in a logical way.

We’ll never be “done” with this project. Metadata is never really done. It’s a continuous improvement process, and will become more valuable as our enterprise content grows and we allow the metadata structure to evolve and change.

Here’s a link to a short e-book I’ve been relying on as we develop our M-Files vault. Let us know if you find it valuable!