As the paradigm shift from print to digital continues at an astonishingly rapid pace, employees are creating and saving terabytes of digital content to internal systems. At the same time, varied naming conventions render it difficult to locate and retrieve critical files once they are sent into the abyss of these systems.
Constructing an intuitive hierarchical classification structure, or taxonomy, for an organization’s intellectual assets, is becoming mission critical. Without the implementation of a comprehensive taxonomy, time and money are increasingly being wasted by staff searching for content.
This informational chaos alone should drive business leaders to develop and implement a robust, standard vocabulary for labeling or tagging business critical content across their organizations.
Creating a concise, custom taxonomy for an organization will also improve overall communications within the organization and enable employees to have a voice in augmenting organizational procedures and practices. Thus, creating an intuitive taxonomy within your organization can be both a team building exercise and an investment with multifaceted dividends coupled with a high ROI.
Taxonomy Implementations Produce a High ROI
Assume for a moment that you work in the marketing department of an organization which is heavily focused on IT. Your definition of a widget and its corresponding keywords or descriptors may be different than IT’s definition of the same widget. Unless there is a controlled vocabulary to tie these widgets together, both departments may believe they are talking about different widgets, but in reality, they are speaking about the exact same thing. Think of all of the wasted time this costs your organization.
A comprehensive, well-designed taxonomy can erase ambiguities in common terminologies that may exist cross-functionally throughout an organization. By agreeing on a standard term and linking the differing terms (widgets) as synonyms, the organization now will recognize that an apple and an orange can really both be apples.
Isn’t it time for your organization to quantify the risks of not beginning a taxonomy project?
Taxonomy is Time Consuming and Expensive — NO!
Developing a comprehensive taxonomy may seem like a highly conceptual effort that will require significant investment. This is not necessarily true. We have seen several cases where organizations spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on this exercise and never implemented the finished taxonomy because the project was seen as low priority by management.
Qualified taxonomy consultants will not only partner with you in building and implementing an enterprise taxonomy for which the ROI far exceeds the cost of the project, they will tell your team when to draw the line and implement the solution.
Will Googling Your Content Be a Long-term Solution?
Most employees are casual searchers who are accustomed to “Googlizing” any intranet or internet search engine by using broad macro terms or phrases. The key to improving search results is targeting your taxonomy to this audience while keeping and linking the more granular terms on the backend. If the end product is designed and implemented to improve productivity of your employees, this endeavor will be deemed a victory.
For example, the taxonomy we designed for a well-known membership organization had buy-in from the top. The organization was implementing an entirely new content management system and their goal was to increase the “findability” of their intellectual capital as well as improve their website’s overall usability.
After extensive due diligence, and hundreds of hours of additional research, they realized that the only way they could successfully implement a new CMS was to ensure their content was both well-organized and re-tagged properly with an authoritative taxonomy and controlled vocabulary before migrating it to the new CMS.
Retagging the culled content with the new taxonomic terms was a huge success for the organization and usability and findability have increased over 30 percent in the first few months. Imagine what these increases would do for an organization whose website was based on e-commerce and not just intellectual capital.
Creating Community While Improving Organizational Communications
Building a taxonomy is a collaborative technology project that needs to be promoted, implemented and managed at a grass roots level. While it is fine for the initial planning and funding decisions to be made at the management level, in order for it to be successful, the project must include all levels of the organization.