Indexing Services

Written by Helen Glenn Court
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If you're staring at file cabinets of documents and planning for a conversion to an electronic information system, be sure to put indexing services at the top of the service bureau wish list. One of the primary goals of digital record keeping, after all, is ready access to data. Indexing is what makes that possible. It's the key to pinpointing electronic data, whether the files are text documents or images, active or archived.

Indexing Services Recap

The legacy of hundreds of years of paper documents has left most of us still thinking in terms of where to find something. In computer terminology, that translates to a hierarchy of directories or, ironically, folders. It's not necessary, but there's no harm in it. Users are more likely to settle into a new system if navigating through it is familiar. What's more, how a network is organized does not affect the functionality of index-based searching.

Indexing identifies files by a series of criteria that are independent of "physical" location in a computer system. Typical indexing services criteria include descriptive name of the document, its file type, what the document relates to, author, status of document, creation date, and key words. As many as 100 fields are sometimes used, depending on the needs of the organization and the complexity of the data. More often than not, far fewer fields will be necessary, but the option is worth remembering.

It's worth discussing company needs with a number of service bureaus that specialize in scanning and indexing services. Their experience with other organizations is bound to offer at least a few useful perspectives. Planning is critical, however, to developing a useful and flexible index that will grow with the organization.

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