Strategy and Consulting

Enterprise Taxonomy Governance

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Taxonomy governance is critical to the enterprise content management process. Content is created to be used. To be used it must be found. To be found, and for optimal use, content must be properly labeled and organized. Creating standard processes and rules for your enterprise taxonomy will enhance the efficiency of content management efforts.
Taxonomy governance provides:
– Guidelines for taxonomy development
– Procedures and responsibilities for resources who manage the taxonomy
– Rules for taxonomy maintenance
Without proper taxonomy governance there is no documented authority for processes, there are no standard terms or categories so anyone can create processes, and ad hoc terms might be the norm.
I’ll use an example from a recent client to illustrate. A company had regional business units and several content creators within each business unit that managed content. Some units had a taxonomist and some didn’t. As a result, colleagues in the Midwest created a category label that worked for them. In the Northwest, colleagues labeled the same category differently. In the South, colleagues used another name for the same category. And then the three business units placed the same category beneath a different subcategory, creating inconsistency and a barrier to findability of content.
When the client’s content manager needs to make a change to a category for legal compliance, ideally, they would search for all pieces of content tagged with that category and all content associated with that category would be returned. Then, they would simply rename the category and be done.
However, in the scenario where taxonomy governance is absent, where there are no clear rules that all taxonomy managers follow, each content manager in each region would have to be contacted. Then, the content manager would have to find out what label has been used in each region, figure out a new label, then change it in every instance. This is an inefficient process.
Taxonomy governance is needed to provide a central point of contact for taxonomy rules and processes. Creating enterprise standards eliminates the independent management of taxonomy and allows assets to be easily identified, facilitates measuring the effectiveness of the taxonomy, managing terms and sharing resources.
The next post will address best practices for taxonomy governance.

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