Operationalizing a taxonomy

A number of clients and prospects have come to me with the same dilemma. They have been engaged in varying levels of taxonomy programs and have arrived at a point where they need to overcome a certain sticking point in their projects. They are wrestling with challenges around getting real benefit from their taxonomy projects. While on the surface, taxonomy as a concept is straightforward, getting the organization to embrace standardized terminology and consistent classifications is incredibly complex. It impacts so many aspects of the organization on many different levels: many classes and instances of technology, work processes and practices, change management and governance. Here are a few guidelines to keep in mind when trying to move the organization to the next level:

1. Focus on implementation issues that will solve problems of a business unit: Fast moving organizations on the front lines usually don’t have the time to learn about things like best practices in taxonomy development. They need to solve customer problems and meet their short term objectives. So the taxonomy issues need to address this and not be theoretical
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Keeping Projects on Track

Just last week, a colleague asked me to run down a few of my experiences about projects that go awry. Here are a handful that we have observed:

1. Inconsistent team participation – This is especially true of longer term projects. One of the worst things that can happen is to have team members turn over. So much of a project is about context and getting people to share a common understanding of the problem and solution. When team members (whether internal people or external resources) turn over, it is very difficult to achieve a consistent understanding of that context and the direction of the project.

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Taxonomies and change: the nature of the beast

An interesting problem was posed to a mailing list I am a part of…

Imagine that you have been using a single hierarchy to structure and organize your information for years, and it has been very successful up until now…

But now it is time to move to a different content management system, and not only that – business has changed (of course), and not every way of organizing and understanding the information could possibly have been anticipated. (Or perhaps you did anticipate some, but for practical matters limited the amount of metadata you might apply to content.) So you have new ways that users want to search and navigate, but never considered these at the start. What do you do?

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