If you have OCD you love Taxonomy!

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Keywords: Taxonomy, ECM, Content, Document Managment, Organization

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Taxonomies are not fun, unless you have OCD.  But they are far better than folders, and an opportunity for organizations to unify the categorization of their content.  In my last blog post “Folders are the new F word”, I talked briefly about taxonomy and its value.  I received several comments stating that Taxonomy is too complex for users.  It’s time consuming, but not complex.  This blog post is a starting point for designing taxonomies in any ECM system.  I demonstrate specifically using SharePoint, but the concepts are true anywhere.  Some key points are:

Best Practices:

•        Avoid transient terms

•        Avoid plural terms

•        Repeating child terms is ok

•        Use synonyms for flexibility

•        Let the users tell you what the language is

•        No deeper than 4 terms

•        Avoid “Other” buckets


Common Mistakes

•        Trying to do a taxonomy retroactively is bad news

•        Asking IT to build your taxonomy

•        Trying to build an organization wide taxonomy

•        Don’t like the word “Taxonomy”? Change it.  Do you call dogs “Canis lupus familiaris”?

What to expect

•       6 hours per file taxonomy per fucntion/division

•       100-180 terms per function/divison

•       Frustration, it's not fun for most


•        Blank SharePoint Taxonomy Template

•        Sample HR Taxonomy

•        SharePoint Ready

•        Standard CSV


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Daniel O'Leary

OCD? How did you know!

For the sake of argument, in many ways I prefer a folkonomy- things like tagging and commenting to rigid folder structures and required fields. The best systems can accommodating both, but creating a system that can work both ways requires consulting with IT, users, and business analysts before deploying a system.
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Chris Riley, ECMp, IOAp

Is that like folk music?


I like folksonomy. My primary concerns is when un-controlled many systems choke on the number of terms that appear. You basically get every variation and every spelling of every variation of every possible tag. The other element of folksonomy is it's highly dependent on users doing a good job. Taxonomy vs. Folksonomy should be our next pod cast. Bryant you listening?
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This post and comment(s) reflect the personal perspectives of community members, and not necessarily those of their employers or of AIIM International