This is the seventh post in our present series on successfully implementing taxonomies in SharePoint 2010. These posts amount to a commentary on a set of video training courses, Manage Enterprise Metadata With Taxonomy Management in SharePoint 2010, authored by Mike Doane, which can be accessed either via an unlimited subscription to SharePoint-Videos dot com, or by purchasing this video training set for personal or enterprise use.
Once executive support has been secured for a plan to implement taxonomy for SharePoint 2010, and the implementation team has been assembled from IT personnel as well as management level individuals picked from line of business (LOB) groups, the next step is to start the process of interviewing users, and, specifically, those users most likely to contribute useful information for the compilation of term sets. As Mike Doane notes, it makes sense to start talking to power users. After all, they will likely “know what you are talking about and, often times, have figured out how to get around issues like . . .” challenging document repositories and SharePoint lists which are more an obstacle to information retrieval, than anything else.
An important leading question for these interviews is “. . . what’s the business problem? . . .” with regards to searching for information within SharePoint. By defining the business problem at the root of user frustration with SharePoint, as Mike notes, a taxonomy implementation team can carefully peel back the layers of, effectively, SharePoint opacity to determine what can and should be corrected vs. what ought to be left as is. Care must be exercised in this process to differentiate legitimate attempts to store information in LOB silos, from both unskillful management of data, as well as unauthorized decisions to make the task of locating information in SharePoint difficult, if not impossible.
It’s worth taking a moment to establish some terminology for this process. “Term Groups” are the collections of terms that represent an organization or a business. For example, in this video training course, “General Business Taxonomy” amounts to the term group. The folders below this term group, “Accounting and Finance”, “Human Resources”, etc. contain the terms included in the term group and are referred to as term sets. The point, as Mike makes clear, is that the process of compiling a taxonomy is very much a process of ” . . . building a hierarchical tool . . . ” Finally, throughout this interviewing phase of the implementation process, it is important to ” . . . emphasize topics, and, not navigation . . .”. With a focus on topics, the interview process promises to be useful as a method of determining the important business processes that must, and should, be serviced by SharePoint through a successful implementation of taxonomy vs. simply a set of discussions about how to quickly get to where one needs to be on an Intranet built on SharePoint 2010.
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