Every employee knows how much time they waste every day researching internal information. In management, this is a topic that is only noticed to a limited extent – the employees are there anyway. Yet virtually every employee asks himself the following questions when looking for internal information:

  1. Where should I start looking?
  2. Which wording can I use best?
  3. Whom can I ask for support?

However, most business leaders are not directly aware of how much productivity is lost through internal research and how much frustration this issue leads to.

With this blog post, we enable companies to get a quick and uncomplicated opinion. We have developed 2 methods that can be quickly and easily copied to capture internal sentiment. This helps to back up perceived truths with facts and thus calculate a business case. We have explained how to calculate a business case from this in this blog post.

Method 1 (Quantitative): Internal survey

To get a general feeling of how other colleagues feel about access to information, a widely distributed survey (e.g. Typeform, Google Forms, Microsoft Forms) can be used, which can be distributed widely on the intranet or via teams in the team. In this way, you quickly gain insights into what everyday life in this area looks like from the employees’ point of view.

Tip: Of course, there are departments that, due to the nature of the job, have greater challenges in obtaining information (R&D, Sales, Service, …) than other departments. Therefore, such a survey should also ask about departmental affiliations.

How do I build an information retrieval survey?

For the development of the survey we used the well-known book “The Mom Test“. The Mom Test explains questioning methodologies to get the most unbiased view of the problem. The following questions are derived from it:

Question formatQuestionSupplementary information
Free textThinking back to the days this week, were there situations when you asked colleagues for certain information because you couldn’t find it in the digital systems? 
Free textDescribe a situation where you could not find a document: Which system(s), how long did it take, what did you do? 
Free textWhat are the consequences for you / your company when documents cannot be found? 
Free textWhat emotions do you feel when you search for information? 
Multiple ChoiceWhat are the most relevant tools for you in our IT system?Multiple choice from internal IT systems
Multiple Choice or free textHave you already searched for a solution (for you/your department) on your own– Yes
– No
– Add your own answer choice
Multiple ChoiceHow often do you search for internal documents?– Several times a week
– Several times a day
– Once a day
– …
Multiple ChoiceHow much time do you spend each day researching internal information?– Less than 5 minutes
– 5-15 minutes
– 15-30 minutes
– 30-45 minutes
– 45-60 minutes
– More than 60 minutes
Multiple ChoiceAfter your onboarding, how quickly were you able to purposefully find information in our company structure?– Not at all, I had to ask
– I searched with a few clicks
– Immediately
– I do not remember
Multiple ChoiceThinking back to last week, were there situations where you had to ask colleagues for specific information because you couldn’t find it in our digital systems?– Yes, several times
– Yes, once or twice
– Yes, two or three times
Multiple ChoiceCan you imagine working with a simple “Google search” in the future to quickly find information or documents?– Yes, I would like that
– Maybe, I would like to try it out
– No, thank you
Multiple ChoiceDo you think a good integration of generative AI into such a solution could add value to us as a company?– Yes
– No
Free textDo you have any further comments? 

Tip: Multiple choice questions facilitate the evaluation compared to free text. The survey can be supplemented with questions mentioned in method 2.

How to calculate the business case in concrete terms is explained in our white paper Return on Information.

Method 2 (Qualitative): Key User Workshop

We conduct a key user workshop with all our clients. Here we talk to the most important users who are likely to have the greatest added value or the greatest pain point. This method is also very good for finding out in advance what the biggest pain points of colleagues are. Basically, 3 areas are asked:

1. Jobs to be Done
In this part, we listen to the users first and foremost. We ask a few questions to find out what the user’s daily work routine is like, what tasks he or she does in the company and what systems are relevant to him or her in the process. Some questions we like to ask are the following:

  • What is your job in this company?
  • Describe a typical working day for you.
  • Who do you interact with most at work?
  • Why do you need to interact with these people?
  • What digital systems do you use? What is the most important system for you to be in?
  • What are the most relevant file formats for you?
    • Attention. Most people will probably only address office documents here. However, this also includes pictures, e-mails, chat messages, posts on the intranet, …

2. Pains

In the second part of the workshop, we will focus on the issues that prevent users from successfully fulfilling their tasks in the company. For this purpose we ask the following questions:

  • What keeps you from accessing internal information quickly?
  • How often do you ask colleagues to access information (via teams, directly, …)?
  • To what extent do the current systems support you in accessing information quickly and efficiently?
  • How satisfied are you with the search functions of the different systems?
  • How well can the current systems handle more complex search queries?
  • Is there a data source that you have a lot of problems with?
  • How does turnover affect information management in your department?
  • How many IT systems do you use on average per day?
  • To what extent is versioning a problem?

Tip: Experience has shown that the following points are issues that are raised by almost all of our clients. It may be worthwhile to ask about these topics again separately or to delve deeper into them:

  • Not one main point of contact for information
  • A lot of department-specific information
  • Large amounts of data
  • Data situation has changed over time, there are several logically correct storage locations, data structure
  • Correct wording for search is missing
  • Poorly searchable data sources/low relevance of results
  • Staff turnover – staff are no longer in department
  • Onboarding of new employees takes a long time, needs a lot of communication
  • Versioning/duplicates
  • Scanned documents
  • Everyone quickly creates their own documentation, doesn’t always do it by the book
  • Poor naming of documents
  • Frustration with searching when I can’t find anything without help from colleagues

3. Gains

In the last section, we then talk to the users about what their expectations would be from an enterprise search. What would be improved from your point of view? This helps us to define the requirements for an Enterprise Search.

  • What would you expect to improve?
  • When do you define the implementation of an Enterprise Search as a success?
  • If you imagine the software from the user interface/UX, how would you describe it?
  • In your opinion, what are the three most important pain points that should be solved?


With the two methods presented, companies have the tool they need at hand if they want to back up their feeling that employees spend too much time researching information with figures. We are happy to be available for further discussions and to support you with our know-how free of charge.