Author: Term Management

enterprise content management, taxonomy construction

Featured Service: Taxonomy Services Planning

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Most information workers understand the need to quickly find and access the information they’re looking for. However, most information systems (like an intranet) aren’t organized as well as they should be to make this happen. Taxonomy services can help a company understand what kinds of information it has and how to organize it into topics and areas with terms and keywords that make sense for users and help everyone find what they need.

Saving users’ time makes a company’s information that much more valuable, and engaging a taxonomist—a relatively low cost—can save a company time and money on both new projects and existing web sites.

Before committing to a complete taxonomy design, a company may want or need a roadmap to determine the extent of its need and help estimate the cost of a taxonomy solution. With our Taxonomy Services Planning offering, we can put such a roadmap into a client’s hands after a three-day initial engagement in which we examine a company’s content, user needs, and how a taxonomy will benefit the client.

Here’s an outline of the process:

Day 1 – Content Audit

  • Sample existing content types – Uncover and list common types of content to help identify key concepts and keywords to be used later in taxonomy construction.
  • Interview key stakeholders – Identify and interview 4-5 key stakeholders who understand users’ information needs and can help prioritize content for classification and search.

Day 2 – Needs Analysis

  • Classify content samples – Organize key content into common types that can be used to establish initial automatic classification.
  • Prioritize user and system needs – Determine user needs and prioritize in conjunction with technical system requirements.

Day 3 – Taxonomy Evaluation

  • Determine taxonomy value – Evaluate how a taxonomy would help organize user content and how a classification would increase its findability.
  • Prioritize next steps – Prepare a prioritized list of steps to take to effectively implement a taxonomy solution.

And afterwards:

Weeks 2-24 – Ongoing maintenance

  • Once an initial taxonomy has been implemented, it must undergo ongoing maintenance. Our maintenance plan includes scheduled meeting with stakeholders, search log analysis, continued end user interviews, and cross-department reviews.

Learn more: download/view our Taxonomy Services Planning datasheet

advice, best practice

Don’t Hire a Taxonomist

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Most companies needing a taxonomist for a big project–like setting up a new company portal in SharePoint 2010–should be careful not to hire a taxonomist to solve a short-term need. Many consultants will gladly take a fee for a 4-6 week engagement and have a taxonomist set up an initial vocabulary/taxonomy and get it running.

Big mistake.

It takes a while, sometimes 9-12 months, to really get a taxonomy going within a company and get the right people to review it and provide input. It simply cannot be done effectively in a such a short period as would typically be allotted for in a larger portal project.

It’s better to divide the taxonomy budget/work up like this:

  • 10% for discovery and initial implementation
  • 90% spread out over the next 9-12 months

That way, time and money are saved up and spread out, giving the taxonomy–and the team–time to “breath” and understand how to really use it for things like tagging and better search.

advice, best practice, SharePoint 2010 taxonomy, taxonomy construction

Creating Security Settings in the SharePoint 2010 Term Store

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One of the best ways to control who gets to use or edit a taxonomy in your SharePoint 2010 site is to use security settings. Use the settings for Term Sets in the same way you do in other ‘locked down’ areas (such as Document Libraries) in SharePoint 2010. Combine these settings with overall taxonomy governance and you’re on your way to improving search and navigation in SharePoint. Watch how Isaac sets security on Term Sets by checking out this video.

advice, best practice, taxonomy construction, taxonomy maintenance

Taxonomy to the Rescue

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A lot of clients ask for help explaining to their boss(es) the value of taxonomy. Here are three ways to answer that question:

1. ‘We need to be more efficient finding the information we’ve already created!’ Taxonomies can help people across a corporation find information faster and better.

2. ‘We need to make search work better!’ Better integration of search systems and taxonomy tagging can greatly improve search.

3. ‘We need to get our company intranet portal organized!’ Yes. Taxonomies can help organize the structures of your company’s portal. Done.

advice, best practice, enterprise content management, taxonomy construction, taxonomy maintenance, Uncategorized

Taxonomy Governance: Taking the Taxonomy to New Levels

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This is the conclusion of my three part series on governing taxonomies. This post will wrap up the series with some next steps for you to take to let your taxonomy flourish.


In my last post I presented Part 2 of this series, focusing on the maintenance of a taxonomy: how to update, edit and maintain the taxonomy once it’s being used in your company. This was the largest of the three posts, and contained the most “how to” information for keeping your taxonomy up to date and relevant.

As I’ve pointed out in the past two posts, taxonomy governance is organized into three main areas:

  • Taxonomy Development (the first post)
  • Taxonomy Maintenance (the last post)
  • Taxonomy Growth (this post)

I realize that these posts ask a lot more questions than they answer, but I think that’s the point. I’ve got “answers” for all these questions, but they do vary from company to company. When I consult with clients, it’s about answering these important questions to make sure we’re covering all aspects of taxonomy governance.

As I said in previous posts, this will eventually become a white paper that I will make available to you. In the meantime, here’s the third of three sections on taxonomy governance: Taxonomy Growth.

Exploring Your Taxonomy’s Growth Potential

  • Technology (how to grow your taxonomy using technology)
    1. Features – what features of the taxonomy management tool or the enterprise systems can be optimized to improve the capabilities of the taxonomy?
    2. Capabilities – what can the taxonomy do to improve the overall capabilities of the systems it integrates into?
    3. Growth – how can the taxonomy grow to be more effective and cover more of  the enterprise?
    4. Upgrades – what kinds of upgrades are needed to the technologies that either manage or integrate with the taxonomy?
  •  Cross channel (using taxonomies across multiple business areas of your company)
    1. Online – what can a taxonomy do to integrate multiple online business channels?
    2. Offline – how does the taxonomy get used to integrate offline resources with online business channels?
    3. Sales – how can a taxonomy be used by sales personnel to increase sales?
    4. Efficiencies – what can the taxonomy do to increase business process efficiencies?
  • Relationships  (ways that your taxonomy can be politically tied to other groups in your company)
    1. Promotion – how can the taxonomy be used to promote products and ideas to internal and external customers?
    2. Business groups – how can taxonomies be used by different business groups to enhance capabilities?
    3. Evangelism – how does evangelizing the taxonomy increase its value in the enterprise?
    4. Opportunities – what kinds of new opportunities can the taxonomy enable within the enterprise?
  • Ontology (the next logical step to use your taxonomy in new and profitable ways)
    1. Definition – how can taxonomies enhanced by creating semantic relationships between terms?
    2. Utilizing taxonomies – how can taxonomies evolve into ontologies that can be used across the enterprise?
    3. Development – why is it necessary to create a series of defined conceptual relationships?
    4. Technology – how is the ontology managed and extended?
enterprise content management, taxonomy construction, taxonomy maintenance

Taxonomy Governance: The Maintenance Process

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Last time I presented Part 1 of this three part series on governing taxonomies, focusing on the initial steps in taxonomy development (e.g. taking the initial steps to building out a taxonomy, project planning, etc.). For this post, I want to talk about the Maintenance Processes, or what to do with a taxonomy once it’s built.

A Little Recap

Basically, taxonomy governance is organized into three main areas:

  • Taxonomy Development (the last post)
  • Taxonomy Maintenance (this post)
  • Taxonomy Growth (future post)

I realize that these posts ask a lot more questions than they answer, but I think that’s the point. I’ve got “answers” for all these questions, but they do vary from company to company. When I consult with clients, it’s about answering these important questions to make sure we’re covering all aspects of taxonomy governance.

For this post, I want to talk about the Maintenance processes, or what to do with a taxonomy once it’s built (but not necessarily fully implemented across your organization). As I said last post, this will eventually become a white paper that I will make available to you. In the meantime, here’s the second of three sections on taxonomy governance: Taxonomy Maintenance.

  • Teams
    1. Taxonomy – what kinds of roles and people are included in a taxonomy team?
    2. End users – how does a taxonomy benefit an end user? How are end users involved in the development of a taxonomy?
    3. Advisors – what kinds of roles or stakeholders are involved in the development and maintenance of a taxonomy?
    4. Technology – what kinds of technologies are necessary for the creation and maintenance of a taxonomy?
    5. Governance – how is a taxonomy governed for the short and long term?
  • Technology
    1. Manual integration – how is a taxonomy manually integrated or used within a system?
    2. Automated integration – how is a taxonomy automatically integrated into a system?
    3. Autoclassification – what role does a taxonomy play in autoclassifying content?
    4. Systems – what kinds of systems does a taxonomy work with?
    5. Integration – how does a taxonomy integrate into one or more systems?
  • Building
    1. User interviews – how are user interviews used to determine what terms are included in a taxonomy?
    2. Content audit – what is a content audit and what kinds of content should be audited to inform a taxonomy build out?
    3. Primary build – what needs to go into the first build of the taxonomy?
    4. Revisions – how are revisions made and tracked during construction?
    5. Technical implementation – how is a taxonomy implemented into a technical system?
    6. Standards integration – what kinds of standards should be considered as the taxonomy is being built?
    7. Editorial development – how does the terminology used in the enterprise get harvested and used in the taxonomy?
    8. Testing – what kinds of tests need to be performed to validate the taxonomy?
  • Stabilizing
    1. Testing – how is the taxonomy tested inside the multiple systems that it integrates into?
    2. Analysis – what kinds of analytics are needed to measure and track the effectiveness of the taxonomy within the enterprise?
  • Maintaining
    1. Terms – how to add, edit, delete, deprecate and maintain overall relevance of terms in a taxonomy.
    2. Technology – what has to happen in the technology to maintain the taxonomy?
    3. Committee – what does a committee do to provide governance to a taxonomy?
advice, taxonomy maintenance

Taxonomy in Tough Times

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No matter if  the economy is up or down, the need for finding the right information is mission critical to any company. In tough times, however, it’s even more important to conserve resources.

We provide services that most companies don’t have in-house: taxonomy maintenance and governance. Most CFOs know that it’s better to “rent” than “buy” under certain circumstances, especially if a company can get a service without hiring an expensive resource. Full-time employees are best, but sometimes a company can get better service at a lower cost by hiring a team with talent for the short term.

Contact us for more information about how we can be your in-house taxonomist.

advice, best practice, enterprise content management, taxonomy construction, taxonomy maintenance

Taxonomy Governance: Why You Need It, How It’s Done

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I’ve written many times about why taxonomies are necessary for any kind of CMS, DAM or KM initiatives in the enterprise. Simply implementing an asset management system and letting it grow organically is no longer an accepted practice. There’s a reason why the term “SharePlosion” gets knowing nods when it’s mentioned in the same conversation about how content management systems are governed.

A taxonomy is no different. Of the dozens of clients I’ve had in the past 10 or so years who’ve implemented taxonomies in their systems, most fall into two camps: “We built it and left it on the shelf”, or “We built it and work hard on it all the time to keep it relevant and useful.” I’m paraphrasing of course, but the point is that taxonomies, like the enterprise CMS that house them, are always in need of governance.

An Outline for Taxonomy Governance

Over the next few months, I’m going to present my outline for how to govern a taxonomy, with just enough detail to be immediately useful but still leave you room to modify it as necessary for your company’s needs. Basically, taxonomy governance is organized into three main areas:

  • Taxonomy Development (more in this post)
  • Taxonomy Maintenance (future post)
  • Taxonomy Growth (future post)

Taxonomy Development

Sounds simple enough, I realize, but oftentimes clients I work with have no idea even where to begin. So let’s begin with Taxonomy Development (the other two areas will follow in subsequent posts, I promise!).  Taxonomy Development is about “Understanding” why you need a taxonomy, “Discovering” the value and purpose of a taxonomy, and “Applying” a taxonomy in practice.

For this post, I’m going to provide you an outline and some bullet points of support and some typical questions stakeholders have. This will eventually become a white paper that I will make available to you. In the meantime, here’s the first of three sections on taxonomy governance: Taxonomy Development.

  • Theory (provides a foundation that defines a taxonomy)
    1. Why taxonomy? – Answers the question of why even bother to create a taxonomy.
    2. Taxonomy development – How does a taxonomy evolve from idea to implementation?
    3. Taxonomy lifecycle – What are the steps to creating and maintaining a taxonomy?
  • Value (attempts to explain why taxonomies are valuable)
    1. Search – How does a taxonomy make search better?
    2. Navigation – Why should you use a taxonomy for site navigation?
    3. Common language – Is a taxonomy meant to support a Tower of Babel?
    4. Standardization – How does a taxonomy standardize language in a company?
    5. Discovery – What ways does a taxonomy help users discover new terms or relationships?
  • Purpose (proposes how taxonomies can be used for specific purposes)
    1. Add value – What kinds of real value does a taxonomy provide?
    2. Reduce waste – How can a taxonomy reduce wasted employee effort?
    3. Streamline choices – Can a taxonomy be used to offer users a streamlined way to apply meaning by using tags?
    4. Extend capabilities – How does a taxonomy extend the way information assets can be accessed and used?
  • Application (lists ways that taxonomies are used in CMS systems)
    1. Technology – What kinds of technologies benefit from using a taxonomy?
    2. Tagging – How does a taxonomy provide the necessary tags for use in a asset management system?
    3. Guiding – Does a taxonomy provide guidance to a user when navigating through an information system?
    4. Searching – Can a taxonomy be used to improve the search experience?
    5. Promoting – Can assets be promoted to users by using a taxonomy?
    6. Integrating – What steps are necessary to integrate a taxonomy into a CMS, and can a CMS really use the full potential of a taxonomy?
    7. Imagining – Does a taxonomy provide enough flexibility to allow a user to imagine new concepts, or does it take an ontology to do that?
    8. Standards – What kinds of standards—national or international—are best to use for a taxonomy?
  • Planning (gets people and process in motion to create taxonomies)
    1. Project – Is building a taxonomy a standalone project, or does it get included in other projects?
    2. Program – How does a taxonomy fit into a company’s overall program management scenario?
    3. Corporate – Is there really a way to build a taxonomy for an entire corporation, or is it best to build taxonomies for smaller functional groups?
    4. People – Who, really, cares about a taxonomy, and who’s going to maintain it?
    5. Roles – Got a taxonomist on staff? Probably not. Who’s a candidate to be an “Accidental Taxonomist”?

Next time, we’ll talk about Taxonomy Maintenance (it takes a lot of work, trust me.)