How do I best use metadata instead of subfolders?

Q: How do I best use metadata instead of subfolders?

FileHold does not have sub-folders, the Cabinet/Drawer/Folder hierarchy is as far as the Library extends.  The initial question we often ask is why a sub-folder is needed. Although all organizations are unique, there are typically four main reasons:

1. It's what we're used to.

This is probably the most common reason - everyone is used to Windows, where the only way to group or organize documents was with sub-folders. Because Windows was so sparse with information, everyone got used to seeing documents with the filename, date, size, and application only. Most people needed very disciplined file-naming conventions to make them appear organized onscreen, and if you wanted to show how two documents were related, it was file-name or sub-folders. A DMS offers many more options for this, and it comes down to something new - there is often inertia that needs to be overcome.

2. The sub-folder is doing the work of a schema

Sometimes documents are put into their own area because they are all the same use type, like a folder full of invoices, or HR records, or whichever related documents want to organized and classified together.

FileHold offers schema to classify documents by how they are going to be used. This creates a filter that can be used when looking at Folders or Searches to locate the exact type of document needed. This means you will not need to cluster them to show their relationships - that is built in with the schema. Of course, schema do more than just classify - they also allow for control over access, setting unique retention schedules, workflows, Courier, auto-filing, etc. If you file documents by client, the schema lets you filter which users can see one document type instead of another - so sales and accounting can see the invoices, but manufacturing cannot. This allows for access control and a non-siloed information repository at the same time.

3. The sub-folder is doing the work of a metadata field.

This is even more common - in FileHold, you can group and organize documents by a metadata field to show related documents. This is not an option with Windows, where the only place you can gather and sort is with sub-folders. Not so with metadata - tagging documents makes sure you can search or browse documents with that information instantly. 

4. The sub-folder is the result of too many upper layers.

Consider an Accounting department. They likely have their own office with a filing cabinet. They would not label this "Accounting", they know it's accounting - so they would likely start with a cabinet with chronological order, or by customer name, etc. In your case, if you remove ‘Finance and make it ‘Accounting 2021’, you keep all the structure as indicated with no sub-folders.