by Brian LeBlanc, Term Management Taxonomist
The key to successfully creating, implementing and maintaining a taxonomy in an organization is having an effective governance plan. The governance plan is the road map that coordinates the efforts of everyone involved as they go through the phases of developing a taxonomy that is fully integrated with the organization’s enterprise content management (ECM) system and becomes part of the daily workflow. The goal of this three-part series is to provide an in-depth look at the taxonomy governance road map for each of the three main teams that need to work in tandem to accomplish this goal: the Taxonomist, the IT/System, and the Enterprise.
The enterprise team has the crucial role of creating, promoting, and enforcing the taxonomy governance plan itself. The enterprise team includes the taxonomy champion, the project manager, and key leaders who back the project. They are the people who see the big picture of what the taxonomy project is all about and they need to convince everyone in the organization to sign on and contribute to its success.
At the heart of the enterprise team’s work is the convening of the governance committee. This team will create the statement of purpose for the entire project, which will guide the creation of the taxonomy governance document. The governance document should clearly explain the purpose, the timeline, and the expectations of the project.
Once the governance document has been created and is in use, the enterprise team will switch to monitoring the work being performed, promoting the initiative, and making sure it gets the cooperation of key stakeholders.
After the taxonomy and ECM system implementation, governance shifts to focusing on the rules regarding how terms will be added to the taxonomy. The taxonomy team will inevitably get pushback from various stakeholders demanding that their terms be added. If the governance team is not there to referee and enforce the rules, then the taxonomy could be overloaded with too many terms.
Once the taxonomy has been implemented in the ECM system, it is time to look at the results. The enterprise team will monitor the results of the implementation and lead the effort to make the needed improvements to the taxonomy.
While a taxonomy project can be started, it is never completed; rather, it is always evolving to meet the needs of the users or risks falling into disuse. An effective taxonomy governance plan defines what needs to happen to successfully launch the taxonomy, but also how to maintain it and make continuous improvements. A successful taxonomy is one that has an effective governance plan in place to help it grow and evolve along with the organization.
(If you are interested in getting a copy of the entire Taxonomy Governance Plan, please contact us.)
It’s always good to have someone on staff at a client site when working on the analysis phase of a taxonomy project. It used to be unheard of, but now it’s becoming more the norm to have at least one person in the room from a client’s staff who knows the importance of a taxonomy (or two or three…).
We used to depend on a staff librarian or metadata manager (rare, I know) to be sitting at the table to help us explain what we’re doing on a taxonomy project. Now, guys from the IT department are chiming in on how critical taxonomies are, and how the business teams (marketing, SEO, analytics, HR, etc.) can really benefit from creating and using a taxonomy.
SharePoint 2010 is mostly to “blame” for this trend, but also the marketplace in general is wising up to the competitive advantages taxonomy can bring.