Enterprise Knowledge - Taxonomy Design Best Practices and Methodology


Published on

This presentation, origninally presented at the Knowledge Management Institute's KM Symposium on March 27, 2014, addresses the concepts of business taxonomy value, taxonomy design methodology, and taxonomy design best practices. It is intended as an introductory deck for anyone seeking guidance on taxonomy design efforts.

Published in: Technology
  • Be the first to comment

No Downloads
Total views
On SlideShare
From Embeds
Number of Embeds
Embeds 0
No embeds

No notes for slide

Enterprise Knowledge - Taxonomy Design Best Practices and Methodology

  1. 1. © Enterprise Knowledge, LLC Cracking the Code on Taxonomy Design and Implementation Taxonomy Design Business Value, Best Practices, and Lessons Learned Zach Wahl Founder and Principal
  2. 2. © Enterprise Knowledge, LLC Agenda • Defining the Business Taxonomy – Importance of the Business Taxonomy – The Business Taxonomy in Practice • Taxonomy Design Methodology • Taxonomy Design Best Practices 1
  3. 3. © Enterprise Knowledge, LLC DEFINING THE BUSINESS TAXONOMY
  4. 4. © Enterprise Knowledge, LLC Taxonomy Definitions tax·on·o·my (tāk-sōn-mē) n. pl. tax·on·o·mies 1. The classification of organisms in an ordered system that indicates natural relationships. 2. The science, laws, or principles of classification; systematics. 3. Division into ordered groups or categories: "Scholars have been laboring to develop a taxonomy of young killers" (Aric Press). Zach’s Definition – Controlled vocabularies used to describe or characterize explicit concepts of information, for purposes of capture, management, and presentation. 3
  5. 5. © Enterprise Knowledge, LLC Taxonomy and Metadata • Provide structure to unstructured information. • Join or relate multiple disparate sources of information. • Provide multiple avenues to find and discover information. • Enable findability. 4 Findability
  6. 6. © Enterprise Knowledge, LLC 5 Taxonomy and Metadata Metadata “Card” Title Author Doc Type Topic Department Brochures & Manuals Memos News Policies & Procedures Presentations Reports … … Employee Services Compensation Retirement Insurance Education & Training Manufacturing Safety Quality … Free Text Entry
  7. 7. © Enterprise Knowledge, LLC 6 Taxonomy and Metadata Content~Information~Data~Files Metadata Fields Metadata Values Taxonomies (Flat or Hierarchical)~ Controlled Vocabularies
  8. 8. © Enterprise Knowledge, LLC Traditional v. Business Taxonomies • Traditional taxonomies are classification for the sake of classification. • Business taxonomies are classification for the sake of findability. 7
  9. 9. © Enterprise Knowledge, LLC 8 Traditional v. Business Taxonomies Traditional Taxonomy Business Taxonomy Purpose Categorization Findability Designed By Scientists/Librarians The Business Managed By Scientists/Librarians The Business Used By Scientists/Librarians Everyone Complexity Deep, Wide, Detailed Flat, Simple, Deconstructed Key Characteristics Mutually Exclusive, Collectively Exhaustive Usable, Intuitive, Natural
  10. 10. © Enterprise Knowledge, LLC The Business Taxonomy • Usable – Easy to adopt and utilize for any skill level. – Relatively flat (2-3 levels) – “Easy” to navigate • Intuitive – Does not require training. Reflects the way the user thinks. • Natural – Uses the organization, vocabulary, and logic of the user. 9
  11. 11. © Enterprise Knowledge, LLC IMPORTANCE OF THE BUSINESS TAXONOMY
  12. 12. © Enterprise Knowledge, LLC The Information Management Challenge • “Democratization of Content Management” has resulted in exponential increases in information. • Today, 80% of business in conducted on unstructured information – Gartner Group • Unstructured data doubles every three months – Gartner Group • Knowledge workers spend from 15% to 35% of their time searching for information and 40% of corporate users reported that they can not find the information they need to do their jobs on their intranets – Sue Feldman, IDC 11
  13. 13. © Enterprise Knowledge, LLC THE BUSINESS TAXONOMY IN PRACTICE
  14. 14. © Enterprise Knowledge, LLC 13 Business Taxonomy Example - Bluefly Metadata Field: Size Taxonomy Values: 4.5 5.5 6 6.5 7 8 … Metadata Field: Color Taxonomy Values: Black Blue Brown Green Grey Ivory … Metadata Field: Type Taxonomy Values: Athletic Inspired Boots Loafers and Slip-ons Oxfords and More Sandals Metadata Field: Brand Taxonomy Values: Antonio Maurizi Bacco Bucci Ben Sherman Bruno Magli …
  15. 15. © Enterprise Knowledge, LLC Your Organization Here 14 Business Taxonomy for Your Organization Metadata Field: Topic Taxonomy Values: Manufacturing Benefits Infrastructure Quality … Metadata Field: Document Type Taxonomy Values: Forms Policies Procedures Reports News … Metadata Field: Locale Taxonomy Values: North America Europe Asia South America … Metadata Field: Department Taxonomy Values: HR Sales and Marketing Communications …
  16. 16. © Enterprise Knowledge, LLC 15 Multiple Taxonomies Combine Synergistically – Categorize in multiple, independent, categories. – Allow combinations of categories to narrow the choice of items. – 4 independent categories of 10 nodes each have the same discriminatory power as one hierarchy of 10,000 nodes • Easier to maintain • Easier to reuse existing material 42 values to maintain (10+6+11+15) 9900 combinations (10x6x11x15) Main Ingredients Cooking Methods Meal Type Cuisines • Chocolate • Dairy • Fruits • Grains • Meat & Seafood • Nuts • Olives • Pasta • Spices & Seasonings • Vegetables • Breakfast • Brunch • Lunch • Supper • Dinner • Snack • African • American • Asian • Caribbean • Continental • Eclectic/ Fusion/ International • Jewish • Latin American • Mediterranean • Middle Eastern • Vegetarian • Advanced • Bake • Broil • Fry • Grill • Marinade • Microwave • No Cooking • Poach • Quick • Roast • Sauté • Slow Cooking • Steam • Stir-fry
  17. 17. © Enterprise Knowledge, LLC 16 Common Metadata Fields Method Definition Examples Subject-oriented Information categorized by subject or topic. • Instantive - each child category is an instance of the parent category • Partitive - each child category is a part of the parent category water pollution, soil pollution, air pollution… Functional Information categorized by the process to which it relates employment, staffing, training Organizational Information categorized by corporate departments or business entities. Human Resources, Marketing, Accounting, Research… Document Type Information categorized by the type of document presentations, expense reports, press releases …
  18. 18. © Enterprise Knowledge, LLC TAXONOMY DESIGN METHODOLOGY
  19. 19. © Enterprise Knowledge, LLC Top Down • Work with business stakeholders and functionally- or subject-based individuals or focus groups • Identify overall metadata fields and major categories of information • Subdivide categories as necessary to build taxonomy • Individual-driven; may entrench obsolete or arbitrary categories Bottom Up • Identify overall corpus of content and major content collections • Analyze content collections using automated textual analysis tools • Reveal major and minor topics of information; build taxonomy based on the relationship of these topics • Automated process will often yield most logical design, not most intuitive. 18 Top Down v. Bottom Up Approaches
  20. 20. © Enterprise Knowledge, LLC 19 Enterprise Knowledge’s Taxonomy Design Methodology Business Case Scoping Knowledge Gathering Taxonomy Team Taxonomy Workshops Taxonomy Focus Groups User Testing Content Tagging/Population Maintenance and Evolution Planning Design Testing & Deployment
  21. 21. © Enterprise Knowledge, LLC 20 Enterprise Knowledge’s Taxonomy Design Methodology Business Case Scoping Knowledge Gathering Taxonomy Team Taxonomy Workshops Taxonomy Focus Groups User Testing Content Tagging/Population
  22. 22. © Enterprise Knowledge, LLC Business Case • Define audience. • Define the mission of your audience. • Define the true reasons for designing the taxonomy. • What specifically can the taxonomy do for the end business users? 21 Any organization can say “we want to build a taxonomy to make finding information easier for our users,” but what does that tell us? How does that help us? We need to understand our users from the business perspective and answer the question: We want our on- the-road sales staff to have one- click access to customer news. We want every employee to find any form we have without calling or emailing anyone. We want new employees to be able to find everything they need to get started on Day 1.
  23. 23. © Enterprise Knowledge, LLC Scoping • Timeline – Set dates for “broader” project (technology or organizational). – Regulatory requirements. • People – Availability – Acceptance – Understanding • Technology – Requirements v. Capabilities • Budget 22 Taxonomy Scope Constraints Timeline Technology People Budget
  24. 24. © Enterprise Knowledge, LLC Knowledge Gathering • Communication, Education, and Marketing: – Set user expectations – Translate “pain points” to solutions in real time – Create “buzz” around the project – Market the results, not the definitions • Identify taxonomy and content starting points – Key stakeholders and early adopters – Existing taxonomies and information systems – Critical “must find” content 23 Physical Location File Type(s) Metadata Users (w eb site, database, file server) (.doc, .xls, .pdf, .html, etc.) (Y/N) Applicable (Y/N) If yes, who MAY access Justification Access Restrictions Document Collection Name
  25. 25. © Enterprise Knowledge, LLC Taxonomy Team • Convene wide-spectrum team (12-18 people) to represent their components of the organization. Strive for diversity in: – Function – Hierarchy (to a degree) – Tenure – Geography • Strive to identify individuals who “get it,” but also yield influence in their respective domains. • Participation should become an official and measurable job activity, supported by management. 24
  26. 26. © Enterprise Knowledge, LLC Taxonomy Team • The Taxonomy Team will ensure the taxonomy is a true business taxonomy. – Participate in initial workshops to identify metadata fields and top-down taxonomy design. – Identify and enlist additional representatives for follow-on workshops, focus groups, and testing. – Support the content migration (and tagging) process. • The Taxonomy Team will continue to meet throughout the length of the effort, and ideally beyond. 25
  27. 27. © Enterprise Knowledge, LLC Taxonomy Workshops • Enterprise Knowledge’s Taxonomy Workshop methodology is a repeatable process that translates natural business thinking into taxonomy and metadata design: – Business Case – Audience Definition – Verb Identification – Noun Identification – Metadata Field Prioritization • The workshop can be used throughout the project with different groups and at different areas of focus and levels of detail. 26
  28. 28. © Enterprise Knowledge, LLC Taxonomy Focus Groups • “Spin-off” groups can be leveraged to accomplish more specific design requirements: – Design of secondary and tertiary metadata fields that are less “controversial.” – Identification of tertiary metadata fields and taxonomies of values for specific sections of the core taxonomy. – Spot testing/validating content against taxonomy. 27
  29. 29. © Enterprise Knowledge, LLC User Testing • Testing takes place throughout the project with multiple test groups: – Taxonomy Team and Focus Group participants – Other content owners and stakeholders – End users • Testing should be multi-directional. – Test consistent tagging of taxonomy onto content (card-sorting) – Test consistent navigation of taxonomy to find content (find-it) • We are not seeking perfection, we are seeking majority. 28
  30. 30. © Enterprise Knowledge, LLC Content Tagging/Population • Time and labor intensive at multiple levels • Opportunity to validate taxonomy design – begin with most critical content • Opportunity not just for migration, but cleanup • Population Strategies – Manual upload of documents – Auto-categorization tools – “Paper” migration followed by third-party tagging • Consider long term sustainability issues when constructing filters and other population mechanisms 29
  31. 31. © Enterprise Knowledge, LLC Maintenance and Evolution • Establish clear taxonomy governance: – Policies and Procedures – Roles and Responsibilities – Communications, Education, and Marketing • Maintain the Taxonomy Team to guide future development • Continuously reexamine the taxonomy • Establish mechanisms to gather user feedback and respond to it in a timely manner 30 Most of the work in an average taxonomy project will take place within the Maintenance and Evolution Stage. No initial rollout of a taxonomy will yield 100% perfection. Striving for that will only delay your project and risk your sanity. By preparing for this on going work, you ensure the hard work of the project team will not be lost. With the correct mechanisms in place, the team can respond to user feedback and bring the taxonomy closer to 100% perfection over time.
  32. 32. © Enterprise Knowledge, LLC TAXONOMY DESIGN BEST PRACTICES
  33. 33. © Enterprise Knowledge, LLC Define Taxonomy Project Objectives Early • Define a simple business case to help control scope and communicate with end users and stakeholders. • Develop a timeline and listing of phases to detail when specific milestones will be met. • Limit initial scope to ensure success. 32
  34. 34. © Enterprise Knowledge, LLC Employ Quality Measurements and Analytics • Use both active and passive analytics: – Surveys • Satisfaction • Time Saved • Anecdotal Evidence – Search terms – Size of hit lists – Dead ends • Consistency Testing • Time Tests 33
  35. 35. © Enterprise Knowledge, LLC Understand your audience • End users drive the language and complexity of the structure. – Who are they? – Who is the lowest common denominator? – Define the “spectrum of experience: 34 Tenured Employee New Employee Technophile Technophobe Younger Older Native Speaker Foreign Language
  36. 36. © Enterprise Knowledge, LLC Understand your publishers 35 Information Professional Business User Dedicated Position Part-time (Volunteer) Few Publishers Many Publishers Homogenous Publishers Diverse Publishers • Publisher determine the reasonable complexity of a taxonomy/metadata strategy: – Acceptable amount of time per document – Number of metadata fields – Complexity of taxonomy
  37. 37. © Enterprise Knowledge, LLC Understand Your Platform • Taxonomy design seldom works outside the context of a business mission, typically tied to a technology: 36 Web Content Management Portal Document Management Records Management Looser Tighter Less Complex More Complex
  38. 38. © Enterprise Knowledge, LLC Always Focus on Your User • Recognize that users may think about and look for information in different ways • Understand your business practices and use the most appropriate categorization method(s) • Consider multiple taxonomies for disparate audiences • Use familiar vocabulary and organizational schemas to ensure a logical browsing experience. 37
  39. 39. © Enterprise Knowledge, LLC Make a Long-term Investment • Taxonomy development is an iterative and on-going effort – Respond to change: validate and modify regularly – Invest in dedicated, long-term resources • Initial effort must have foresight – Establish a solid foundation – Allow extensibility to accommodate new information – Plan for iterative development • Consider auto-categorization/auto-taxonomization technologies – But recognize that human intervention and oversight is critical • Establish maintenance and governance processes – Conduct regular (quarterly) taxonomy and content categorization reviews 38
  40. 40. © Enterprise Knowledge, LLC Thank you. Zach Wahl Enterprise Knowledge, LLC www.enterprise-knowledge.com 571.403.1109 zwahl@enterprise-knowledge.com @ZacharyWahl, @EKConsulting