HOW TO: DEFINING a Catalogue (“Taxonomy”) for your SharePoint Environment…

2013-03-26 MV to All: I’ve been working with a current client in an area which has long been fuzzy & confusing for many – Taxonomies. This blog posting will likely run into several parts, starting with first principles (basics), and ultimately showing some practical techniques for arriving at a useable (taxonomies are never really finished as long as organizations are innovating) taxonomy for your organization.


First off, even though we’re forced by sheer popularity to use the term “Taxonomy” to describe what we CREATE, in fact, we DO Taxonomy, but we do NOT make “taxonomy”.

Taxonomy== The method/practice of grouping; It’s from the Greek words “taxis” (groups) or “taxon” (group), and “nomia” (method), so Taxonomy literally means “method of grouping”. Now you know what few people in IT know, AND you also realize that we “do” Taxonomy, but we don’t “make” a Taxonomy. Rather, the OUTPUT of Taxonomy is actually hardly ever given a NAME, but when it is, it’s termed a “Classification”, or a “Catalogue”.

So what this blog posting SHOULD be titled is “HOW TO: Use Taxonomy & SharePoint to Define a Catalogue for Your Organization and its content”…

I actually like the term “catalogue” because we’re doing more than merely creating a dictionary of terms describing objects related to your organization – we’re organizing these terms into classes, each of which contains properties unique to that class, as well as properties it inherits from other super (and more general) classes. And in addition to describing merely kinds of documents in our organization’s universe, we’re also describing other less-tangible but still not-abstract objects & concepts as well – things like Vacation Requests (which might NOT be a formal form or document in your organization), Project Tasks, Project Issues, Project Risks, Project Goals, and other critical objects which don’t ordinarily manifest themselves as actual documents

So, now we’ve laid the groundwork, and learned what we’re actually doing – building a catalogue (hierarchical diagram) using Taxonomy (method of grouping/classifying).

 Next we’ll look at some popular techniques I’ve used to create the base catalogue (read “complete enough to be useable”) , while at the same time setting the stage for being able to extend that catalogue as needed.



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