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How to Quickly Jump Start a Custom Taxonomy for SharePoint 2010

Where the amount of time required to implement a custom taxonomy for SharePoint 2010 is an important consideration, it makes sense to consider methods of hastening the development of this feature. There can be a number of factors driving a sense of urgency about this task, not the least of which may be a need to provide an information architecture for the data stored in SharePoint. The benefit of defining an information architecture for SharePoint 2010 is that line of business (LOB) stakeholders can be correctly posited in roles within a governance plan the can, thereby, be used to properly manage the use of SharePoint to achieve established business objectives for this software.

Customizing pre-built taxonomies is a method of hastening the process of collecting term groups, term sets and terms. In the same video course just treated in the previous post to this blog, Mike Doane notes that pre-built taxonomies “can only get you about 80% there” with regards to producing a working custom taxonomy that can be further refined to produce a truly useful tool for the implementation plan. On the other hand, we think that 80% is a significant step in the process, and, therefore, recommend that any opportunity to reasonably use a pre-built taxonomy should be seriously explored.

Mike goes on to note that these pre-built taxonomies are not inexpensive. Of course, if the cost of implementing a fast track to a working starting point for a custom taxonomy outweighs the benefit delivered by hastening the project forward, we think the better decision is to go a slower route. In fact, determining whether or not benefits outweigh costs is a task that requires first hand knowledge of the importance of timing, available budget funds, etc. Therefore, it will ultimately be up to specific teams to determine what makes sense on this point, and what does not.

Other alternatives include implementing industry standard taxonomies. These taxonomies are especially worth consideration in that groups of users who may have already achieved the same objectives have contributed to the compilation of these taxonomies. For certain industries, as Mike Doane notes with regards to Oil and Gas, the depth of available options is deep enough to warrant a serious look.

Of course, any existing taxonomies should be thoroughly investigated, but the fact that a renovation project is at hand may be an indicator that importance pieces of information have not been covered by these earlier attempts. As Mike Doane, observes, the most important weakness of these taxonomies will likely be the fact that they merely represent one silo within the business; for example, a taxonomy for “Human Resources”, and, therefore, useless as regards the need to frame a working taxonomy for the entire business. Of course, silos also have political impact within specific organizations, and, for that reason should be carefully scrutinized prior to any incorporation within the global taxonomy project for the organization.

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