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The Truth About Indexing: Making the Most of Indexing During Your ECM Migration

AIMMWPYou have an Enterprise Content Management (ECM) migration project underway, but you’re not happy with the current indexing structure of your archives.

It turns out you’re in luck, because an ECM migration can be the perfect time to consider changing or enhancing the current indexing structure of your archives. As you’re adding to your indexes, you can enhance them as well and improve what’s already there.

Why is indexing important and an ECM migration a good time to restructure? Keep reading to find out.

Intro to Indexing

ECM repositories can store millions of statements, policies, images and other content. To keep all of that straight, they rely on metadata that describes the documents stored in the system. That metadata can be located in databases, control files, or can be appended to the document contents themselves within the source system. The metadata is used for many purposes including discovery, validation, storage, organization, retrieval, distribution, delivery and deletion of content.

Indexes help the system search out that metadata. Individual document types typically possess a unique set of indexes to describe their contents: an annual financial statement may be identified by searching for a customer’s name and a year, while a monthly statement could be associated with an account number and month.

Understanding those differences helps recreate the relationships between the documents, the target ECM system and the connected business applications.

Indexing is a crucial part of the ECM migration process, building in metadata enrichment, searchability and performance enhancement. During a migration, all indexing information has to be maintained and migrated to the target ECM system. Sometimes additional metadata is also needed in the target system, in which case it can be acquired, potentially by mining the content during the migration process to extract index information and meet the target system requirements and business use.

It’s important that everything lines up so that specific items can be found and delivered as needed. For that to happen, the right structure has to be in place.

Re-Indexing and Improving Your Current Structure

Other indexing issues can arise during an ECM migration. Metadata associations may be lost during the extraction phase, for example, a problem that’s particularly prevalent in legacy systems built in the days before XML, complicated by the fact that different document types often require different metadata rules and indexing requirements. To get around this, it is often necessary to rebuild indexes during the migration process through a technique called “re-indexing.” See an example of a re-indexing task within Process Manager on Figure 1 below.

Figure 1. Process flow for a re-indexing task within Actuate Content Services Process Manager.

Re-indexing involves adding and/or changing your current index structure – maybe because you want to enhance the performance of your current searching ability, or to add more indexes that would assist in tying together more document types during a search. The goal is to enhance the end user experience and make old legacy archives more usable and efficient.

And that comes back to why it makes sense to alter your problematic indexing structure during the migration process. Because you’re enhancing and adding to the indexes anyway, it’s the perfect time to change index tag names for consistency, programmatically add indexes to the documents by pulling information from external sources, and error check to ensure index fields are what they were intended to be. You can also redact indexes for Payment Card Industry (PCI) Compliance issues (i.e. masking parts of the credit card number or social security number) during this time.

The migration process gives you an opportunity to do all of this, lining up your indexes so metadata is in order and everything is easy to find.

For more information on indexing, as well as the other stages of the ECM migration process, read “ECM Content Migration: Best Practices in Document Archive Convergence,” a white paper co-written by Actuate and AIIM, the global community of information professionals.


OpenText is the leader in Enterprise Information Management (EIM). Our EIM products enable businesses to grow faster, lower operational costs, and reduce information governance and security risks by improving business insight, impact and process speed.

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