Search – A major productivity key?

I had an interesting conversation with another consultant today.  We were discussing the virtues of BaseCamp, a project & team collaboration tool from 37Signals.  I recently implemented it across 5 projects being run by Sutton, Merton & Kingston Councils, London.

He mentioned that one of the shortfalls he considered important, was the inability to define a folder structure and hierarchy when storing documents.  Initially, I found myself agreeing. However, the precursor to this conversation was around the differences between Mac and Windows.  Me, being of the former persuasion, I thought about how I use my Mac to find a document I need.  I use Spotlight… 95% of the time.  Not something that works very well on Windows.  The indexing service is one of the major contributors to the negative performance on ill-spec’d machines and any requested searches only seem to contribute to the problem.

Therefore, he relies on structured folders to find things.  Tonight, I found myself thinking about how much of a productivity gain I actually get by having a fast, reliable search tool to hand.  I wouldn’t be surprised if it peaks up to 1h per day on the hectic ones.  Incidentally, BaseCamp has a search function and it works in much the same way as you’d expect from a cloud-scaled application.

I’ll do some research to see if there any links to studies that may have been done but I just wanted to put the thought out there for discussion.

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