The Case for Search Support
The focus this month is collaboration. As I highlighted the evolution of collaborative information seeking last year, I will turn my attention to the way in which providing search support to project teams can make an excellent case of search investment as well as making you many friends inside your organization.
I recently worked for a major engineering consultancy which was involved in managing very large-scale infrastructure projects around the world. When I talk about "large-scale," I mean millions of dollars over many years. What was interesting about this consultancy was that every project team had to spend a couple of hours with the search manager in the initial stages of the project set-up.
There were four objectives of this session. The first of these was to make sure that the team were able to find all the relevant documents and expertise they might need in the early stages of a project, ranging from technical solutions to how to get back to the hotel from the project site. It was not unknown for the team to be aware of information that somehow was not being retrieved by the search application, and the search manager usually ended up with a list of zero or low score results that needed further investigation. Usually it was a case of a specific file store not being crawled.
The second objective was to set up some profiles on the search application that could be run at regular intervals to ensure that new information, or a new member of staff with relevant expertise, could be identified as quickly as possible. This role of search as a monitoring application is often totally overlooked. Sometimes the facility to set up standard searches or alerts for new content being added is not well supported by the search application. Search is not always about blazingly fast search of large data sets.