Tagging – how much is too much?

I’m not going to discuss whether tagging is necessary given today’s search technology, but rather, if a company chooses to tag, how much is too much.  One of the biggest features of Documentum is the ability to create custom tags (aka attributes).  While business analysts would like to create attributes for every possible use case, the reality is that users despise filling out these attributes as part of the document import/creation process.  What was once a simple drag and drop process of copying a file from local computer to shared drive, has become a multi-step process, requiring potentially several minutes of assigning attribute values – tagging.

Based on my experience, the threshhold for acceptable user experience is about 5-10 attributes.  Any more than 10 attributes, users start to complain quite loudly in fact.  Even though most users can hardly think of 10 attributes off the top of their heads, the reality is that if you build a trully enterprise document management application that integrates with other systems, that number will easily be exceeded.

To alleviate some of this pain of tagging, one common customization request is the ability to default some of the attribute values based on folder location, group membership, value assistance, etc.  While the business case makes sense, the development costs associated with these customizations is not trivial.  The good news is that EMC Documentum has listened to their clients, and this feature will be part of the D6 release.  D6 will introduce a new concept of Presets, which will allow business users (not developers) to define default attributes, lifecycles, workflows, object types, and retention policies.  I personally cant wait till D6 comes out!

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4 responses to “Tagging – how much is too much?

  1. I think you’ve hit the nail right on the head. 5-10 attributes seems about right to me. This is really part of a more general issue of solution designers accepting that technology is only one part of the solution.

  2. Pingback: A year later - where is Documentum and Sharepoint today? « Ask Johnny! - Documentum Guru

  3. Pingback: Presets Redux « Ask Johnny! - Documentum Guru

  4. Pingback: From Google to Folders: Finding The Best Way to Search in the Enterprise - Enterprise Content Management Blog - A Perficient Blog

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