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Finding the right information quickly and efficiently is a challenge that every business — small or large — faces today. Most business owners or managers know how important it is for their employees to find the information they need quickly and efficiently. Therefore, initial investment in a good filing structure is often made, and retrieval is theoretically considered and attempted to be improved through filing guidelines. In practice, however, employees file their information differently and real problems only arise when a certain amount of data is stored. A good search function, therefore, increases productivity, reduces frustration and helps your team make better decisions.
If you are not satisfied with your organisation’s current search function — whether in the DMS, intranet or email programme — here are 6 tips on how to improve it:
1. Use a dedicated enterprise search solution.
While it is possible to use general search tools like Bing for internal search, these tools are not tailored to a company’s specific needs. In addition, many data silos have their own search functions, but these are mandatory by-products rather than real features. Therefore, the search functions that are generally available leave much to be desired. In contrast, an enterprise search solution is tailored to index and search the content types relevant to your organisation, such as documents, emails and databases. Furthermore, these solutions provide a much better user experience and are able to solve the challenges that more general solutions cannot solve across data silos (specific language, access rights, centralisation).
2. Clearly define the scope of your search.
Before you start implementing a new search solution, it is important to be clear about what you want to search for and why. Is your team looking for documents related to a specific project? Do you want to be able to search emails from a specific time period? Are you looking for chat messages? Defining the scope of your search will help you choose the right tools and configure them properly with support from the vendor.
3. Implement best practices for search
There are several best practices that can improve the effectiveness of your search. For example, you should use descriptive file names and include relevant metadata (such as tags and categories) to help your search tool understand the context of your content. However, you should take note that good search tools nowadays focus on the content of the documents above all else and are becoming more marginal with the support of AI tags.
4. Use filters and facets to refine the results
When users search for something, they often get a long list of results that can include a mix of relevant and irrelevant documents. To help them find what they are looking for more quickly, you can use filters and operators to narrow down the results. For example, you can allow users to filter by file type, date range or author. Additionally, through new technologies such as Natural Language Processing, modern providers can answer your users’ questions based on your dataset, providing a completely new search experience.
5. Train your users
You need to ensure that your users know how to use your search tool effectively. This may mean providing them with documentation (often available vendor-side), training, or simply making sure the search interface is easy to use. By investing in user training, you can ensure that your staff make the best use of your search solution.
6. Make your search accessible
Finally, make sure your search engine is quick and easy to access. If you leave it up to employees to put a link on their desktop, then the success of the search engine will depend heavily on the skill and will of the users. If instead you install your search engine directly into the intranet, the DMS or via group policy as the default start web page, which is highly visible, the visibility and thus also the use of the software will increase. Many providers also offer additional integrations such as TeamsApps, Outlook Add-Ins, desktop applications etc. Improving search in your organisation can be a difficult task, but it is well worth the effort. By following these tips, you can help your team find the information they need faster and make better decisions as a result.