How to Meet Unique Information Management and Compliance Challenges

A sophisticated pan-enterprise search solution is a smart approach for effective information management and compliance, especially in highly-regulated industries that have little room for error. With a pan-enterprise search infrastructure in place, a company can access all its systems to quickly uncover vital information pertinent to a specific project. Knowledge Center contributor Carol Fineagan shares how the right pan-enterprise search solution has fulfilled her company's unique knowledge management and compliance requirements.


EnergySolutions is recognized as a leader in nuclear waste processing. In the short time of two years, we made nine acquisitions. Like many companies that have gone through acquisitions, we faced the challenge of managing information from all of the acquired companies. Without the right tools, the cost and effort involved in organizing and extracting business value from this huge volume of information would have been prohibitive.

We set out to identify an enterprise search solution that could cull data from the various document management systems (DMSes) we inherited through our acquisitions. We needed a solution that was able to index and understand the information without having to move it from its native systems. Our mission was to find the best solution for our users to increase their ability to share and collaborate on information. At the same time, the solution needed to provide an information infrastructure for the enterprise that would allow us to adhere to our regulatory compliance mandates.

Like many enterprises, we have critical information stored in hundreds of legacy systems, company e-mails, and documents exchanged between international departments across global entities. To compound the challenge, with nuclear materials there is a need for cradle-to-grave responsibility of all project information. This includes continuous monitoring, methods of disposal and location of burial, encompassing many lifetimes of information that must be managed.

Our DMSes housed some of the company's most crucial intellectual property, including nuclear project materials and correspondence, engineering papers, drawings and safety documents. To effectively manage this information, we needed a solution that could scale rapidly without limit, maintain the native formatting, leverage existing indexing systems and offer protection from unauthorized access.

Due to the high volume, age and disparate file formats and data types, consolidating everything into a single DMS was not an option, as we needed an audit trail and the original metadata for compliance. The company has to support a myriad of global regulatory compliance initiatives that apply to management of nuclear waste, including specific compliance mandates as defined by the Department of Energy. Since our initial public offering (IPO) in November 2007, we now also have to comply with the Sarbanes-Oxley Act.

Traditional wasn't the right option

When we began to look at various options to address our information management and compliance challenges, we quickly realized that traditional solutions-such as adding more storage or consolidating documents into another Records Management or Enterprise Content Management system-was not the right answer. With the increasing cost of media management, power and cooling, and datacenter space, simply procuring more storage media would be far too costly. Additionally, we could not quantify investing time and money moving data from one document system to another. There is intrinsic value in maintaining the original indexes and metatags. Having the ability to connect to multiple content repositories was a key selection criterion for us.

With employees located around the world, we recognized that it would be impossible to expect that everyone would categorize data the same. For example, the company's users in the U.K. (Queen's English) and the United States (Colonial English) might label or search for the same document with entirely different keywords. With so much data, we couldn't rely on individuals to decipher these nuances. We needed a tool that was smart enough to understand what the person meant by "concept" and apply it to a broader base to bring back accurate results, and that includes finding both information and experts across the company-whether for legal, compliance or knowledge-sharing purposes.