October 31, 2012 - 1:44 PM
One of the most popular presentations I give at various SharePoint events around the world attempts to illustrate the correlation of metadata, the increasingly prevalent social computing tools we use within the enterprise, and our efforts to track, measure, and improve productivity. My argument is simple: metadata is at the core of every enterprise social tool, and social computing are the key to improving productivity across the enterprise. The three are inseparable.
Myself and others have written at length on the importance of defining a proactive metadata strategy as part of your SharePoint (or any ECM/ERM platform) strategy. And yet far too few organizations realize the importance until pain is experienced. Of course, the cost of fixing your platform later, rather than doing things at the beginning, is about 4x the cost. While understanding these costs is critical, the real impact is to your organization’s productivity. The math is fairly simple: metadata makes your content searchable (i.e. findable), social is another layer of the search experience that expands metadata through social activity, and when people can find the relevant content they need in a timely manner, they will be more productive on SharePoint.
Let me illustrate in another way: around 1992, I purchased a 500cc street bike. It was my first motorcycle, which intimidated me a bit, but I convinced myself that it was all the power I needed for my relatively short commute. A co-worker who spent most of his adult life building and riding motorcycles, advised me to find something bigger and more powerful. But I didn’t listen, and bought the bike that I thought was my speed, my size. Not even a week went by before I realized that I needed something more in the neighborhood of 1200cc’s. I did not listen to the expert, I did not think about the rapid scaling of my skills and expectations, and I ended up spending all of my money on the wrong choice.
The same mistake is often made with regards to SharePoint. Organizations deploy a bare-bones system, or may focus their efforts on building some critical business solutions (fair enough) but not invest time in the fundamentals. There is no such thing as a “homogenous deployment,’ but my advice is to focus on 4 fundamentals:
Invest in your taxonomy. Metadata is the key to any knowledge management platform, so take the time to make this as robust as possible up front, and then massage your taxonomy over time as end users provide new tags to the system.
Develop a governance strategy. Because you cannot build out SharePoint and walk away, you need to have a process in place that provides a shared understanding of how SharePoint should work, how it should be managed, and who owns all of that activity.
Take advantage of your internal community. Talk to your end users, know what pains they have and what solutions they depend on. You'll learn more from a monthly lunch with your most avid SharePoint users than from the occasional survey.
Use your change management process. Ask people what solutions they want delivered, identify the business value of each, prioritize them, and then give people visibility into what is happening around their requests. The more you involve people in the change management process, the more likely they are to support the end result.
By focusing initially on these fundamentals, you will reinforce your ability to correctly define your business problems – and as a result, build the right solutions for your organization.
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