Many companies face the challenge of getting their customers the right product at the right time. And many companies employ a taxonomy to help drive product sales and improve findability on consumer-facing public websites.
Taxonomy Development for Employees
However, there are millions of "customers" facing the same issue within companies every day. The customers are employees, who are asking: How do I find the best "product" to help me get my job done faster with more effectiveness?
Granted, that may not be the exact phrase everyone uses when facing their workstations every morning, but the sentiment is there. Customers can be employees, too, and companies can improve findability for employees by using taxonomies developed with an internal-focus in mind.
Drivers for Intranet Adoption
From our experiences in building more than 100 internally-facing taxonomies for companies over the years, we've learned a few things that help to drive use adoption for intranet portals:
- Use internally-facing taxonomies that focus on "capabilities" rather than on an org chart. Most folks don't care about the org chart when looking for a document or video that they need to do their job.
- Use the wisdom of the masses. Let user interviews drive how the taxonomies are built for the company. There is no "one size fits all" for internal company taxonomies. We've tried to re-use taxonomies from one company to another, and it's difficult because each company has its own particular way to use terms and terminology.
- Start very simple using an enthusiastic group. We've seen taxonomy projects wither on the vine because we tried to do too much too soon, rather than keeping it simple and rolling out a series of test areas of a portal that have had the taxonomy applied to documents or web pages to improve findability. And get some enthusiastic, willing participants to test rather than release it to the general population without context (or marketing fanfare!).
- Focus on task-oriented terminology. Forget about trying to solve your company's 50-year-old struggle to define a "contract" and focus on what employees need to get their work done. A good taxonomy can solve that "contract' problem anyway!
- Use social media for clues. Oftentimes, employees are posting about issues that include words that can be candidate terms for a taxonomy. Scour those social media channels for ideas about how to solve issues or improve information availability by including terms in a company taxonomy that directly address employee needs!
Image courtesy of amasterphotographer (Shutterstock).
Editor's Note: You may also be interested in reading:
- Taxonomy Building: Tackling the Challenges by @buckleyplanet
- Auto-Classification: Friend or Foe of Taxonomy Management? by @stephlemieux
- Information Architecture: SharePoint's Story by @metavistech
About the Author
Mike Doane is the principal owner of Term Management, LLC. He is a senior level consultant with 18+ years in information management, with a deep background in information science and content management. He specializes in developing and maintaining taxonomies in SharePoint 2010.
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