How to get started with IA, metadata, and taxonomy for EDRMS implementations

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In a three-part blog series, we are taking a look at the value that records managers can bring to the implementation of EDRMS systems. In our final post, we provide suggestions on how to successfully apply information architecture (IA), metadata, and taxonomy to EDRMS.

As we talked about last week, information architecture, metadata and taxonomies are essential to a successful EDRMS implementation. That brings us to the question of how exactly to apply them.

For each of the three tools, a situational analysis is the best starting point. The analysis should focus first on the information that will be housed in the system, looking at its current state as well as any future needs that the system must accommodate. The situational analysis should also tackle the IT project itself, looking at the timelines and resources that will be required for a successful implementation.

The following checklist of questions will help during this process:

Current systems:

  • What existing EDRMS tools are in place?
  • What is the system for managing paper records?
  • Are they the same? If not, are there plans for merging them in future?

Information architecture:

  • Does the organization have an IA – an overarching plan for how information is managed within the organization? Who is responsible for it?
  • As you consider the IA, remember that it can take different user groups into account. For example, you can design a “friendly,” user-oriented structure for general staff to use and another IA that satisfies the particular requirements of the RIM program. This way, RIM staff can view information through the lens required for their work without forcing everyone else to do so – and vice versa.


  • What metadata is in use by your organization? Is it sufficient to accommodate the needs of the entire organization? For example, at the enterprise level, it is important to consider requirements such as including account or policy numbers on all documents. For the RIM department, the metadata may need to accommodate retention or compliance-related needs. For other departments, tags like project numbers, HR codes, and GIS labels may be required.


  • What is the state of your taxonomy? Does is allow for future growth in the organization? Is it sustainable, or is it structured so that it can only reflect the state of affairs for when it was built? During this stage, it is important to make the time for any required updates and refinements. Any time spent on your taxonomy will only serve to ensure success and create a more robust EDRMS.

User groups:

  • Who are your user groups, and what challenges do they have with accessing and using information? What new or unmet needs do they have? Make sure to consult your legal team here, in order to satisfy requirements around discovery/eDiscovery, document access, and evidentiary eligibility.

Records disposition:

  • Does your current system allow for the disposition of records, regardless of format? What would be required from your IA, metadata, and taxonomy in order to do so?

In addition to these questions, it also helps to explore any additional issues that the EDRMS system could potentially solve or alleviate. Obviously this step will take a lot of time, but the rewards will be worth it. With a complete and accurate picture of the entire information landscape you will be in a great position to drive the most value out of the EDRMS system.

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