Taxonomy Governance

Taxonomy Governance Policies:

Taxonomy and Governance present a two-fold challenge to the Portal Administrators:

  1. Organizing the data that you have
  2. Keeping that data (and all future data added) organized down the road.

For this unique challenge, you have to smash Taxonomy and Governance together in the form of “Taxononance” or “Governonomy”. However, since these words are too hard to pronounce (because I just made them up), we will discuss another method.

Taxonomy Governance Policies:

No matter what it’s called, it’s a best practice to create a policy to standardize the management and maintenance of your Taxonomy. In other words, you have to “govern” your taxonomy. By proxy, this Taxonomy Governance Policy will help in governing your Portal content at different levels.

Here’s the idea:

You’re going to create “buckets” (a.k.a. Taxonomy) for the types of content found in your Portal. Once everything is classified into its proper bucket, you’ll determine who is responsible for managing that bucket. Simply put, you’re assigning a Taxonomy Steward to a specific part of your portal.

Easy, right? Let’s move on then. … Hold up! I know – it’s not that easy.

How to create a taxonomy governance policy:

  1. Identify all of the data collected within your organization’s portal.   (You should already have the list from previous exercises).
  2. Next, you will “structure” the data, organizing it by the following categories:
    1. Structured Data – Data that is organized, either hierarchically or in an existing taxonomy of some sort.   This is data such as databases, Excel spreadsheets, Access databases, or even SharePoint lists that are organized and searchable by data types within the content (i.e. Name, Address, Phone, etc).
    2. Unstructured Data – This is ad-hoc data contributed freely by end users.  Examples of unstructured data include emails, Word documents, PowerPoint presentations, audio/video files, images, etc.   In other words, things that are not searchable (unless you added metadata or they get “crawled”, such as by an Index Server).
    3. Semi-structured data – This is unstructured data that has been organized and/or has metadata attached.   Examples of semi-structured data include SharePoint lists, Document libraries, Project and Team Sites, etc.
  3. Once organized, determine who views the content vs. who contributes the content.  ­ For example(s):
    1. MySites – Everyone can view them and everyone can contribute to their own.
    2. News and Announcements – Everyone can view them, but only Admins or Division heads can contribute.
    3. Division Portals – Some people can view them, and some people can contribute to them.
    4. Team or Project Sites – Select people can view them and contribute equally.
  4. Lastly, you will create a Policy, stating WHO owns and manages this content.  The intent here is to hold people accountable (at various levels) for keeping the data properly organized throughout the Portal’s lifecycle.

Here’s an example of a Taxonomy Governance Policy that I’ve created.

Additionally, you can find another example in the SharePoint Deployment Guides and Checklists.  This is one of my favorite references, so I’m going to give some “shout outs” to the following people:

Joel Oleson, Mark Wagner, Arpan Shah, Jeff Tepper, Mike Watson, Shane Young, Scott Case, Robert Bogue, and associates.

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