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Use the Term Store to Enhance the Usefulness of Search in SharePoint

The Term Store, together with an effort to tag any/all documents in SharePoint document repositories with meta data will deliver a valuable, relevant search feature for SharePoint that can lower any number of costs that would otherwise be incurred to provide a heavily regulated business with a means of ensuring enterprise wide compliance with regulations. Therefore, Term Store, Meta Tagging and Taxonomy are subjects worth looking into for appropriate businesses. In fact we offer a set of video tutorials that provide users with the training required to manage Taxonomies for SharePoint Server 2010″.

It is worth noting here that a library entry to MSDN, Managing Enterprise Metadata in SharePoint Server 2010 (ECM) presents the benefits of successfully tagging documents with meta data. An important point made in the MSDN library entry is that “[m]anaged metadata facilitates more consistent use of terms, and more consistent use of the enterprise keywords that are added to SharePoint Server 2010 items. You can predefine terms, and you can allow only authorized users to add new terms. You can also prohibit users from adding their own enterprise keywords to items, and require them to use existing enterprise keywords. Managed metadata also provides greater accuracy by presenting only a list of correct terms from which users can select values. Because enterprise keywords are also a type of managed metadata, even the enterprise keywords that users apply to items can be more consistent.” We emphasize the fact that this comment illustrates the usefulness of meta tagging documents as a highly useful method of establishing a viable governance system for SharePoint. We think (and many other voices on this topic have also thought) that establishing authority for SharePoint along with an effective governance policy is an essential feature of a successful SharePoint implementation.

But what of the amount of labor required to properly tag documents with meta data? It appears that many SharePoint Server 2010 users lack the corporate “will” to ensure that all documents are meta tagged correctly. Products like Microsoft Fast Search Server for SharePoint are available to deliver relevant search without a requirement that users meta tag documents. There are also offerings from Microsoft Managed Partners like ConceptSearching that also have solutions for crafting SharePoint Search into a tool that produces highly relevant results.

In our opinion the cost of these tools is disproportionately higher than the value they deliver. An enterprise license for Microsoft Fast Search for SharePoint can be as costly as 3 times the expense of SharePoint Server 2010. This licensing cost neither includes the cost of adding hardware to specifically support the Fast Search Server, nor the consulting cost associated with integrating the product and fine tuning its performance.

We think it is far more efficient to implement a governance policy for SharePoint and to avail of the Term Store, managed taxonomies and an effective meta tagging process to derive most, if not all of the relevancy of Fast Search for SharePoint results while still perserving substantial value from a SharePoint Server 2010 implementation.

We very much enjoy opportunities to discuss requirements for SharePoint functionality in a search for value. Please either call us at (630) 786-7026, or Contact Us. We will be happy to discuss this topic at greater length.

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