enterprise content management

advice, best practice, enterprise content management, taxonomy governance

Effective Taxonomy Governance, Part 1: The Taxonomist’s Role


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The key to successfully creating, implementing and maintaining a taxonomy in an organization is having an effective Taxonomy 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.

Let’s start with the taxonomist.

TM_TaxonomyGovernanceForTheOrganization_Taxonomy

The Taxonomist’s Role

The taxonomy team is charged with the crucial task of creating the taxonomy. An effective taxonomy governance plan clearly sets the parameters of what domains the taxonomy is going to cover and what it is that the overall project is supposed to accomplish. The governance plan also gives the team the credentials and organizational support that they need to conduct user interviews with key stakeholders and perform the content audit. With the guidance of the governance plan, they are able to focus their efforts on gathering key terms and concepts that should be included in the taxonomy, discovering all of the potential document repositories and content types, and understanding what is important to the people who will ultimately be using the taxonomy.

The content audit and stakeholder interviews inform the creation of the draft taxonomy. This draft taxonomy needs to be reviewed by stakeholders and user testing conducted to make sure that it is on the right track. After this critical review process, the taxonomy is put into the ECM system test environment along with some sample content to ensure everything is working before it goes live and becomes part of the daily workflow.

The implementation is just the beginning of the taxonomy governance process. The users will inevitably need to add new terms to the taxonomy to reflect the changing nature of their work. The governance plan needs to address the process for adding new terms to the taxonomy. The taxonomy team will receive requests to add new terms and make the determination of whether to add the requested term or not. There will be pushback from some stakeholders who may not be happy with the taxonomist’s decision, and the governance plan must address how to resolve these conflicts.

Once the taxonomy has been created and has been implemented, there will be reports and metrics to monitor how it is being used. The taxonomy team is on the front line seeing how the users are interacting with the taxonomy and their input is critical in determining the next steps that are necessary to make improvements.

advice, enterprise content management, taxonomy governance

Effective Taxonomy Governance, Part 3: The Enterprise’s Role


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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.

Previous posts in the series addressed the role of the taxonomist and the role of IT and the system. Let’s now conclude with a look at the role of enterprise.

TM_TaxonomyGovernanceForTheOrganization_Enterprise

The Enterprise’s Role

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.

 Conclusion

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.)

advice, enterprise content management, taxonomy governance

Effective Taxonomy Governance, Part 2: The System’s Role


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by Brian LeBlanc, Term Management Taxonomist

The key to successfully creating, implementing and maintaining a taxonomy in an organization is having an effective Taxonomy 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 first part of the series addressed the role of the taxonomist. Now let’s take a look at the role of the system.

TM_TaxonomyGovernanceForTheOrganization_System

The System’s Role

A taxonomy is only as good as the Enterprise Content Management (ECM) system that will be using it to tag, classify and retrieve the content required by the users. The IT/Systems team has a very focused, specific and crucial role to play in this process as they are the ones responsible for the integration of the taxonomy, the enterprise’s content, and the ECM system. The IT team needs the taxonomy governance plan to help inform the selection and implementation of the ECM system, the content migration plan, and the testing period before everything goes live.

The systems team is in charge of one of the most vital parts of the entire project, namely deciding upon and implementing a new ECM system for the entire organization. The adoption of a new ECM system is a catalyst for people in the organization to determine what content they want to migrate into the new ECM system. The IT team can deploy the new system in a test environment with a draft taxonomy and some sample content. Once everything is found to be working properly in the test environment, content can officially be migrated and the taxonomy can go live.

Once the ECM system is up and running, the IT team can start to retire the old content repositories after the appropriate amount of time has passed. During this time they will also be monitoring how the ECM system and taxonomy implementation is working in practice. Their insights will be a crucial part of the improvement process.

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

Creating a Taxonomy Governance Checklist


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TaxonomyGovernanceChecklistProcess

Due to the dynamic nature of human language, good taxonomies must grow and change over time in order to remain relevant to their target users: people trying to find information. The life cycle of a taxonomy includes much more than just the initial taxonomy development, and keeping this entire life cycle in mind from the beginning will ensure the long-term success of your taxonomy initiative. The three main life cycle phases are planning, development, and maintenance.

Following a proven strategy, we provide maintenance protocols created with these four core components of governance in mind:

    1. Organizational structure: Who is responsible and has the power to make changes
    2. Processes and procedures: How things get done
    3. Standards, measures, and practices: What is considered good
    4. Tools and solutions : What helps get the job done

The systematic and intentional management of your taxonomy investment is vital to your organization’s goals. In our process, pertinent steps are organized across two domains:

    1. Stage of development (pre-, during, and post-taxonomy implementation)
    2. Role (executive, taxonomy team)

A successful taxonomy allows individual users to find the information salient to their particular positions based on the stage of the taxonomy’s development and the user’s particular role at the organization.

Our taxonomy governance checklist provides a detailed overview of the process we use to create successful taxonomies. Check it out!

Download/view the PDF.

advice, enterprise content management, SharePoint 2010 taxonomy, taxonomy construction

Creating and Managing Taxonomies in SharePoint 2010: User Questions, Part II


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This is the second of two posts addressing common, and important, questions concerning the development and implementation of a taxonomy in SharePoint 2010. (Here’s the previous post).

Sure, we know SharePoint 2013 is just around the corner (and already here for some of you), but lots of companies are just now getting up to speed with SharePoint 2010 – and getting their first exposure to the Term Store Management Tool, the tool for creating and managing taxonomies within SharePoint. And don’t worry, many of these questions, and answers, will apply to SP 2013.

Building

Q: What’s the difference between a Term Group, a Term Set and a Term?
A: A Term Group is meant to organize Term Sets, which contain Terms. Most of the work in the Term Store Management Tool is with Terms and Term Sets.

Q: Do terms have to be in a Term Set?
A: Yes, all terms need to have a parent Term Set created first. Note that Term Sets can be deleted without first deleting all the terms, which can be different than other taxonomy tools.

Q: Is it best to build the first version of the taxonomy term set in the Excel CSV file and then import it, or build it in the Term Store directly?
A: It’s usually easier to build it in the CSV file first and then import it

Q: Can a term in a Term Set be reused?
A: It depends. A term cannot be reused within the same Term Set, but it can be reused in another, different Term Set.

Q: Is it possible to rearrange the order of the terms in a Term Set such that they’re not alphabetical?
A: Yes, using the Custom Sort order in the Term Set Properties allows terms to be sorted by user needs.

Q: Does the Term Store allow a term to have one or more synonyms?
A: Yes, a term can have multiple synonyms. This is helpful, for example, when using an acronym for a popular term. The label can be the acronym, and the synonym can be the full term.

Integrating

Q: Can terms from the Term Store taxonomies be used for Document Libraries?
A: Yes, terms can be used in Document Libraries for default metadata.

Q: Can Term Sets be created and used on a local site collection rather than just across the entire SharePoint 2010 implementation?
A: Yes, Term Sets can be created for local site collections only. The local Term Set can also reuse terms from the Global Term Set if desired.

Q: Where do user-generated tags appear?
A: These terms, also known as Enterprise Keywords, appear within the System Term Group folder in the Keywords Term Set.

Q: Can Enterprise (user-generated) Keywords be moved into another Term Set?
A: Yes, these terms can be moved from the System Term Set into the desired Term Set.

Q: What are the ways that terms can be used in a Content Type?
A: Terms can be added to a content type using a custom Managed Metadata Column.

Managing

Q: Does the Term Store allow for taxonomies to be exported to Excel?
A: No. By default, you cannot export taxonomies out of the Term Store. Out of the box, the Term Store only allows for importing Term Sets.

Q: Can terms be assigned “owners” who can control how the term is used?
A: Yes, terms can have owners assigned to control how the term is used. It can also have users assigned to be “informed” of proposed changes to the term.

advice, best practice, enterprise content management, SharePoint 2010 taxonomy, taxonomy construction

Creating and Managing Taxonomies in SharePoint 2010: User Questions


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Sure, SharePoint 2013 is almost here (and already here for some of you), but lots of companies are just now getting up to speed with SharePoint 2010 – and getting their first exposure to the Term Store Management Tool, the tool for creating and managing taxonomies within SharePoint.

This is the first of two posts addressing common, and important, questions concerning the development and implementation of a taxonomy in SharePoint (and yes, many of these will apply to SP 2013 as well).

Overview

Q: What value does a taxonomy bring to a SharePoint 2010 implementation?
A: It allows for better management of information and provides users an easier and more efficient way to find information in one or more Site Collections.

Q: Is the SharePoint 2010 Term Store Management tool open to every user?
A: No, access to the Term Store is set up by a SharePoint administrator and should be limited to those people who will be working on the taxonomies.

Planning

Q: Who should lead a taxonomy project within a company?
A: Most taxonomy projects can be led by someone like an information manager or corporate librarian, in conjunction with a representative from the IT department.

Q: Is performing a content audit a good idea before starting to build a new taxonomy?
A: It can be, especially if it reveals types of content or key phrases in how users have organized content in a file plan or folder structure. This can provide keywords and phrases that can be built into the taxonomies.

Q: What value does creating a taxonomy roadmap provide?
A: It gives stakeholders and project sponsors the ability to understand the value and timeline of implementing taxonomies in SharePoint 2010, and it can be used to promote taxonomy capabilities to users.

Evaluating

Q: What are two main reasons for creating and implementing taxonomies in SharePoint 2010?
A: Tagging content items with terms from the Term Store can make them easier to find in search, and Content Types can use terms from the Term Store to make them more relevant for creating new content.

Q: Is it a good idea to use existing taxonomies from industry standards organizations or third-party vendors?
A: This depends on the industry, but in many cases the cost of acquiring an existing taxonomy from an industry group or a vendor can save a lot of time doing the research and creating the initial taxonomy from scratch.

enterprise content management, folksonomy, SharePoint 2010 taxonomy, tagging, taxonomy construction

Information Management: 5 Taxonomy Must Haves for Your Organization


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The art and science of organizing terms and terminology – taxonomy — has recently gained a lot of buzz in corporate tech circles, so much so that taxonomy consultants like me no longer have to explain that we’re not about stuffing recently expired animals to make them appear life-like in their natural habitat. No, we don’t have to do that any longer.

And even though taxonomy as a concept and a practice is becoming firmly established in even small and midsize companies, information management systems haven’t really responded to the demand. Case in point: SharePoint 2010 is a shining example of how a taxonomy management tool can work within a document management system. And even then, I’d really only give it 3 out of 5 stars. It’s a work in progress, and even Microsoft would probably agree.

Go ahead and look around at the other top CMS systems out there (SharePoint, Documentum, OpenText, Drupal — heck, pick one!) and you’ll see why there are numerous taxonomy management software vendors out there in the market making a killing helping companies to manage taxonomies outside of their core content/document/asset management systems already paid for and in place.

It’s just not right.

Granted, taxonomies need technology to become active and provide value. And taxonomies, up to now, haven’t been the sexiest value-add to an information management system product feature list. Information management systems still haven’t caught up to harnessing the power and potential that a robust and well-defined set of taxonomies can provide end-users. That’s why we have taxonomy management software vendors (and I love ‘em all; they keep me busy!).

So, in the meantime, until information management software more thoroughly incorporates powerful taxonomy tools and capabilities into their offerings, what should you do to promote using a taxonomy in your company? Glad you asked.

Five Taxonomy Must Haves for Your Organization

5. A Taxonomy Maintenance Tool

In SharePoint 2010, it’s the Term Store. In other tools, it goes by various names. The point is that managing taxonomies in Microsoft Excel is just wrong. Get it out of Excel and into a managed system, no matter how poor that system may be. It’s at least a start. Once you commit to getting your taxonomies into a management tool, you need to retire the Excel merry-go-round of taxonomy maintenance. You can always modify the taxonomies later when your information management system vendor upgrades their product.

4. Employee Tagging

Even though professionally curated taxonomies are best, users are going to be one of the best sources of local tags. They’re called “system keywords” in SharePoint 2010, and they’re also known as “folksonomies” in other systems, but basically it’s users adding tags to documents, web pages, MySites, etc. that can really make taxonomies even more powerful. One note: I do not recommend tag clouds. I’ve always found them irritating and often hard to use. And most users don’t really know why one or two words are large, and others are small.

3. At Least One Robust Internal Taxonomy

It only takes one group, usually some energetic marketing or sales team, to build a “starter” taxonomy. From there, it’s a matter of using it as a model for other groups/divisions to build one of their own, or work with a taxonomy vendor to help build out more taxonomies across the enterprise. I’ve seen it happen over and over: no one cares about taxonomies until one group cares, then every group has to have one of their own. Get one group to publish their taxonomy and have them evangelize it throughout the company. Momentum will build.

2. Integrated Content Creation

Taxonomies work best when the content being created by the teams within the company is reflective of the terms in the taxonomy. Keyword-rich content is one of the best ways to improve one component of successful search results. It’s also a way for taxonomy software that auto-classifies content to do a better job of applying just the right set of tags to a document or a web page. This is a long-term goal and probably won’t get done right away. But it’s good to include it in a scoping document.

1. Management’s Blessing

Absolutely the most important part of building and maintaining a taxonomy is the ability to get management’s buy-in to financially support it. I know it sounds crazy to have something so political be the number one most important Taxonomy Must Haves for your company, but it’s true. I’ve seen many, many taxonomy projects start with the best of intentions by team leaders or small groups within a company, only to fail just as they were really hitting their stride due to lack of interest/understanding/support of management. Get your boss to invest in taxonomies.