Failure to Launch – 5 Insights into why your search initiatives fail

Failure to Launch

Many companies can’t seem to get a search initiative off the ground for a variety of reasons.

Every modern application utilizes search functionality to some extent.  Given this, it is initially surprising many users report information retrieval issues within their organizations. Having implemented hundreds of search projects, we have begun to recognize some patterns that impede their success at achieving the desired results.The patterns are as follows:

1. Don’t Know / Don’t Care

Search failures are personal events.  It ‘s hard for an organization to justify the cost of these individual user search failures in their attempts to find a specific piece of content for their particular process.  Even if they do, there is not a compelling event to prioritize this.

Net Effect of Apathy

User apathy is the “Known Unknown” cost of doing business.  It ‘s hard to secure funding for resources without a direct cost associated with it, or executive sponsorship for search improvement. Revenue is sexy.  Most businesses do not measure how much time their resources spend looking for or re-creating assets that already exist.  Without valuing efficiency and their resources’ time, it can be hard to prove the net gain of a search solution.  If they know, but do not care, there will always be a higher priority item.  Most organizations are at this level.

Battling Apathy

Charter your program of groups that have a significant amount of analytics into their current task flows.  Call Centers, Support Portals, and Manufacturing use cases are great places to start.  Use the analytics and return on investment to begin to champion wider adoption.

Contact our Professional Services (“PS”) team for helping you build the business case.

2. Drowning Stakeholders with Jargon


End Users and Business Stakeholders do not care about the underlying chatter of what it takes to implement search nor do they wish to, given the education by those chosen to implement the technology.   This can manifest in the thrilling conversation starters, like:

  • “You said Ontology when you meant Taxonomy…”
  • Someone explaining how Elasticsearch is better than Solr
  • We can shard the Lucene indexed so that the updates won’t affect the peak QPS!

Net Effect of Jargon

If the nerds win, the Total Cost of Ownership (“TCO”) of the solution is hampered by many impractical devices, configurations, and constant tuning.  If the team doesn’t have the necessary skill set to implement, you’ll be throwing your money away.

Resolving Jargon

Stop with the “Dolphin Talk,” a term coined by Jon Doctor, implying what technology jargon sounds like when it presented to a stakeholder and end users.  Focus on business features rather than the technical implementation.  Provide clear guidance to set expectations and do not concentrate on explaining the technology to the stakeholders.  Define and Design search from a User Focus Design approach.

Contact our PS Team to help you design a search solution that focuses on your end user and not the technology.

3. Why Can’t It Be Like

This one irritates dedicated specialist of enterprise search.  It over-simplifies the solution. works for many broad-based queries, but it also has a team of several hundred engineers at Google backing it up.  Relevance can be attained at scale and with measurable analytics, not to mention the probable demographic profiling of web search traffic.

The enterprise typically does not have the scale, analytics, or demographic queues for their file shares or other systems.  This lack of scope and resourcing is why an enterprise solution can only try to be as good as  However, the Google Search Appliance (“GSA”) uses algorithms based on knowledge gained from the searches to help get a close approximation of results with an organizations’ assets.

Net Effect of Magic delights billions of users every month as they discover content that they didn’t know existed.  Your users are the opposite; they know it exists and you’ll need not only to provide them an experience like, but you will also need to provide them the results that match.

Educating about

It can be like  Should it?  Narrowing down your focus to specific communities and task flows will help you optimize the solution.

Contact our PS Team for helping you design a search solution that focuses on your end user and not the technology.

4. Stakeholders are not the users

Stakeholders who drive the search project inject opinions on relevance and content sources while making up the smallest number of users.

Net Effect of an Out of Touch Stakeholder

The stakeholders’ view doesn’t match the general search population, so the system is tuned and steered toward a functionality that has a limited purpose.

Governance to the Rescue

Establishment of a search governance committee can help focus the program and control the unintended refocus of the entire solution on a minority community.

Contact our PS Team for helping you design a governance committee.

5. Index Everything In XXX

At the start of a search project we often hear “Our users can’t find anything on the P drive.  Let’s index that.”

Net Effect to Large a Search Scope

High amounts of highly relevant, but useless content, is returned about the user and the query.

Focus on Important Content

Establish key goals in your requirements to focusing your implementation on what the users are searching for, not on the structure that they are searching within.

Contact our PS Team for helping you define your requirements.