A guide to managing metadata in today’s public sector organisations

Public sector work entails an endless stream of paperwork in a wide range of activities. Whether writing contracts, revising forms, or sending attachments on emails, there is always the risk of transmitting information that you did not intend to send. This information is not something you see in your documents; it is information about your documents that is automatically generated by your software programs. It's called "metadata"-hidden data that consists of notes or other information within word processing documents, spreadsheets, presentations, PDF files and other types of content. Metadata is often used for internal purposes as reviewers collaborate on a document. Rarely is metadata intended for an external audience. However, there have been many instances where metadata has mistakenly been sent along with the original source documents or posted to a web site.

There are a variety of tools available that can scrub metadata from documents, manage document policies, monitor violations and provide other capabilities. There are fewer tools that can help educate users to the dangers of metadata, integrate all of the functions into a cohesive system, and provide the IT team a central interface to manage metadata across your organization. While point solutions can provide useful functionality, an integrated solution is less expensive to manage and provides better protection to an ad hoc collection of different vendors' offerings.