What Is a Metadata Framework?

Metadata frameworks help companies of all sizes organize and keep track of their digital documentation.
October 20, 2022
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When a company tries to migrate a lot of data and files from one platform to another, it’s easy to lose track of some information if it’s not properly identified and described. That’s where metadata frameworks prove most useful. 

Metadata is a set of specific pieces of information that help describe a document. Some examples of metadata include author, file size, creation date, and keywords. A metadata framework is a compilation of at least three types of metadata. When used together, these fields help find and manage content quickly. The different types of metadata required for the creation of a metadata framework include global metadata, local metadata, and document types. 

Business owners and decision-makers need to understand what a metadata framework is, its most common benefits, and its building blocks. They should also know the main steps required to create a metadata framework from the beginning.

The Benefits of a Metadata Framework

When companies are in the process of migrating huge amounts of data, having a metadata framework at their service proves extremely beneficial. It helps people find files faster, share them across different departments, and enjoy a more manageable and secure experience with their documents.

The different search filters created through the framework greatly improve findability. The content inside the metadata framework can become available to anyone and is easily shared across different lines of business and departments. 

At the same time, different departments don’t have to worry about having too much information in the mix, as each of them has its own tags or keywords to differentiate the work. Each file also features a unique set of metadata that ensures compliance while also guaranteeing content safety and facilitating record-keeping.

The Building Blocks of a Metadata Framework

Building a metadata framework requires following certain steps that mostly remain unaltered regardless of the industry or the size of the framework. Each framework requires a set of global metadata, a set of local metadata, and document types.

Combining these three types of information greatly improves content management for any business. They guarantee not only that the user will find the exact files they’re looking for but also that they’ll do so quickly.

  • Global Metadata — Global metadata is not necessarily associated with a document. It’s more of a reference that applies to all information across the framework and that ensures proper document management. It also helps secure the different files, enable lifecycle management, and improve compliance.
    Global metadata fields are useful to anyone in an organization. Business workers use them in order to easily filter documents and files by attributes, like author or company division.
  • Local Metadata — Local metadata focuses on departments, functions, or processes. It’s a piece of information that’s specific to each area of a company. These local tags help departments differentiate the content that’s relevant to them from the rest of the files that exist in the framework.
  • Document Types — Document types are a type of metadata themselves. Any documents created, stored, and used during a business process require tagging with document types. They are how local users describe their work products.

In order to create a metadata framework, a company needs to understand how its different departments and business users describe and organize their processes and content. An effective metadata framework will work as a content management system that anyone can quickly access without having to go through countless folders.

Before beginning to build the metadata framework, the company should establish the kind of different building blocks it needs and define which global metadata, local metadata, and documents make more sense to the business users.

Choosing Global and Local Metadata Fields

Global metadata is associated with the entirety of a company’s content, regardless of the location of the department it originated in. A few examples of possible global metadata could include “subject matter,” “regulatory area,” “location description,” or even “company” if the organization has more than one operating company.

The final decision regarding local metadata fields should include the opinions and preferences of representatives from each department. Local metadata examples for a particular area or location of a company might include “project type,” “project name,” “work order number,” and “equipment type.”

Depending on the type of documents produced during department operations, companies can also establish the different types of document types that they might require. Some examples of document types might include audit reports, purchase orders, project plans, and meeting minutes.

Finally, the company might create a compilation of all metadata fields in a spreadsheet. This often acts as a helpful guideline for new employees as well as a solid base for future platform migrations.

Metadata Frameworks: Useful Tools for Companies

A metadata framework is a sort of repository that allows company workers to quickly find and manage different documents produced and stored throughout the company. These frameworks depend on at least three types of metadata to allow for effective searching and management.

The framework’s building blocks include global metadata (special descriptions that encompass the entire company), local metadata (which is associated with different departments), and document types (that depend on the type of documents produced during business operations).

Creating a functioning metadata framework requires the cooperation of the entire company. Both leaders and department representatives need to establish what kind of keywords and descriptions matter the most to them and their work field.

Once a company completes the creation of a metadata framework, everyone in it has access to every existing document or file. There are no folders to go through. Business workers simply have to filter the company’s content by whatever keywords they see fit in order to quickly find what they’re looking for.

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