Fabian Williams Session on Taxonomy & Information Architecture at SharePoint Saturday San Antonio 11/14/2009 1

SharePoint Saturday San Antonio


Session: Taxonomy and Information Architecture 1:30 pm to 2:20 pm

Track: Management / Social

Presenter: Fabian G Williams

Blog: http://fabiangwilliams.wordpress.com

Twitter: @FabianWilliams


Level 100:

In our session we covered the following Agenda Topics

  • · The Challenge of Unstructured Content
  • · Concepts and Terminologies
  • · Taxonomy and ECM Adoption Techniques
  • · Why should Taxonomy matter to me

The audience was a mix of MOSS Admins and End User Content Owners; I asked if they frequently hear people say

  • · “I just cannot find the stuff I am looking for”
  • · Our Portal has too much clutter, pages are unstructured
  • · The Intranet is not Important to me
  • · When I search for something, I get too many irrelevant data

There were quite a few head-nods, and I concluded that if anyone answered “Yes” to any of those questions, then they are in need for an Organizational Structure around their content. We touched on the fact that we see Taxonomy in our everyday life, why do we think we do not need it in our workplace especially when it comes to ECM. We discussed the fact the one of the first Taxonomy that opened eveyone’s eyes came from the Dewey Decimal System where 10 classifications determined the placement of books in a library; try to find a book in a library without it today, #FAIL. Since last week we celebrated Veterans Day I also illustrated that Military Insignia is also a Taxonomy… E1 – E9 is a classification and Lance Corporal in the Marine Corps and Seaman 3rd Class are the same.


After discussing the non technical references of Taxonomy, we shifted gears and talked about how easy it was for us to begin using sites like Bing, Yahoo, and Google. Did we have to go to a special class, get a book to read up on it? No, the taxonomy was evident and there are categories for what we are looking for. The difference between a taxonomy centered on ECM however…

  • · Tends to be less rigid
  • · Is content driven
  • · Has redundancy built in and is flexible

So how does SharePoint help us with that… well, we have objects in MOSS to help us with our data classification

  1. 1. First we have different classification that are broken up in Templates
    1. a. Sites specifically for Documents
    2. b. Sites specifically for Images
    3. c. Wiki/Surveys/Discussion Group templates
    4. d. People Data
    5. e. Business Data
    6. f. Etc
  2. 2. All on a holistic server Farm
  3. 3. All is searchable

Formula for Taxonomy is: Architecture + Application + Usability

So how do and Where do I Begin

  • · Have a governance and Taxonomy discussion with an establish team.
  • · Focus on the Business and or Process and not on the Technology
  • · Realize that you may have a mixture of Taxonomy going

o Strive to separate out Navigation, Process, Role Based, and Document Management as it distinguishes different approaches to the same content

  • · Just to get a 10’000 feet view of your environment; plan to make a Top Level Taxonomy representative of the company which will eventually be broken down into maybe
    • o Flat Taxonomy Model
    • o Hierarchal Model
    • o Network Model

We discussed the logistical boundaries to the product; at a Site Collection Level you distinguish

  • · Navigation
  • · Branding
  • · Security
  • · Etc

These are Taxonomy concerns especially as you build out the aforementioned Taxonomy model. We then moved into the heart of how we classify information…dah da dah…..

  • · Site Columns
  • · Content Types

We went into detail on how Site Columns are the foundation for entering Meta Data into SharePoint which will assist you in

  • · Data Classification
  • · Corporate Vocabulary (IP)
  • · Data Mapping
  • · Search Indexing
  • · Elements to create End User
    • o Views
    • o Groupings
    • o Aggregation
    • o Filtering


We demonstrated how to create that new Site Column, and we discussed that in SharePoint 2010 you will be able to have Metadata on External List which are searchable and consumable in Office Suite of Applications.




We discussed how we could create a Content Type which in turns builds on that Site Column and now “empowers” end users to have dynamic live access to LOB System Data which is now indexable and searchable in SharePoint in their document asset.


We ended our discussion looking logically at how Content Types placed at the Site Collection level is consumable to subsequent sites below it. How standardization of data, enforcement of policies, and ease of use is enhanced by the thought that goes into a taxonomy discussion.

  • • Reusable Columns that can be assigned to multiple Lists and sites
  • • Useful for maintaining consistent metadata
  • • Available to all sites within the Site Collection
  • • Site Collection Administrators and Site Owners are also empowered to create their own Document Library Columns in addition to consuming Site Columns in an effort to make their environment extensible and keyed into their Line of Business.
  • • We discussed that Content Types are best approached in this manner
  • • By Audience or Originating Site (example: Human Resources Documents, Sales Documents)
  • • By Function (example Status Report, Expense Report, Sales Tracking)

And finally we ended the session by asking ourselves the Presidential Question first coined by Ronald Regan…

“Are you better off with Taxonomy, than you were without it”

  • · Are you able to find what you are looking for easier
  • · Are you working smarter not harder
  • · Can you rattle off your Top Level Site Structure in your head (thereby knowing it is small enough and relevant enough)
  • · Can disparate users find the same content from the safety of their world

If you answered “Yes” then you are good to go.. Hoooraaahhhh!

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