Taxonomy is a Sleeper. The reasons from A to ZZZs that taxonomy hasn’t been a part of your most important projects—but should be!

I’m a taxonomy practitioner at Fishbowl Solutions who has worked with many companies to implement simple to sophisticated document management systems. I’ve noticed over the years the large number of obstacles that have prevented companies from establishing taxonomy frameworks to support effective document management. I won’t review an exhaustive alphabetic list of obstacles, in fact, there are probably far more than 26, but I’ll highlight the top culprits that have turned even the best, most sophisticated companies away from taxonomy.  Don’t fall asleep.  Don’t hit snooze.  Make sure you don’t miss one of the most important parts of a document management software project–taxonomy. Taxonomy is a necessity to deliver effective document management solutions in Oracle WebCenter Content, SharePoint, or any other enterprise content management solution.  You’ll get the most out of the software and your users.

Authority. Who owns taxonomy? Does IT own the taxonomy or a Quality Management Department or all departments own a piece?   Determining decision-makers and authority to sign off on taxonomy frameworks can be difficult.  After all, taxonomies are best when they are enterprise-wide solutions.  Then, users have a familiar context when working with documents for all business purposes.  Don’t let challenges with authority prevent you from establishing taxonomy for your project.  Plan on establishing a governance team to own the taxonomy practice for the current project and in the future.

Bright. Shiny. Object. Taxonomy is not a bright shiny object.  It’s not as fancy as the user interface of the new software.  It doesn’t have the “bells and whistles” that hardware and devices have either.  So, too often document management projects end up focusing on the software and not the necessary taxonomy that makes that software a rock star.  Don’t be blinded.  If you want users to have a great experience, work with documents effectively, and generally adopt your new document management software, you must ensure you define a taxonomy.   Otherwise, your bright shiny object may easily be replaced by the next one as it loses appeal.

Complicated. I often hear from customers that a business taxonomy is complicated.  It can seem insurmountable to sift through existing taxonomy frameworks (or identify new ones), synthesize frameworks, identify new requirements, and really come up with something comprehensive.  Regardless, it’s necessary.  If a taxonomy effort is complicated, think of how complicated managing and searching documents is for your users. Help your users by including taxonomy in your next project to simplify their experience.  It’s the foundation for browsing, searching, contribution, workflows, interface design, and more.

Glamour. Unfortunately, taxonomy is not glamorous.  It’s hard, investigative work.  It entails identifying stakeholders; meeting with stakeholders to really understand documentation, process, and users; generating consensus; and documenting, documenting, documenting.  On top of that, it’s invisible.  Users often don’t even notice taxonomies, especially if they’re good.  But if a taxonomy is non-existent or poorly designed, your users will notice the taxonomy for all the wrong reasons—unintuitive naming, missing categories, illogical hierarchies, and more.  Even though taxonomy is not glamorous, it demands an investment to ensure your project is successful, at launch and thereafter.

Time. It’s common to hear in projects that there is just not enough time.  Customers may say “We need to complete X with the project by date Y.”  Or, “The management team really needs to see something.”  Frequently, the most important milestones for projects are software-related, causing taxonomy to lose focus.  The good thing about taxonomy is that projects can work concurrently on the software build out as they work on taxonomy frameworks.  You can do both and do them well.  Resist the urge to scope out taxonomy in your next project and consider creative ways to plan in taxonomy.

What? Yes, taxonomy has been around for a long time, but still often in projects I see that it’s just something that people are not aware of.  It’s existed for years in the biological and library sciences fields and has had application in IT and many other fields, but often it is just not understood for document management projects.  If you’re not familiar with taxonomy, see my previous blog post “Taxonomy isn’t just for frogs anymore.” and consider hiring a reputable company that can guide you through the practice for your next project.

ZZZs. It’s often perceived as a boring practice with tasks that are in the weeds, but some of us do love it.  Actually, we even find it rewarding to solve the puzzle of the perfect categorization that works for the project and the customer.  If you’re new to taxonomy, you may find that you like it too.  If not, find a resource for your project who has a passion for taxonomy because a good taxonomy is so important to successful document management projects.

smileyeyesIt’s time to have your eyes wide open. If you’re considering a document management software or improvement project, consider how important the underlying taxonomy is for your project and plan taxonomy analysis and development as a required effort.  Your users will appreciate it and your business will see increased software utilization.  Remember the old adage, “Technology cannot solve your business problems?”  It can’t.  But technology + taxonomy can.

 

 

This blog is one in a series discussing taxonomy topics.  Watch for the next blog coming soon.

 

Carrie McCollor is a Business Solutions Architect at Fishbowl Solutions. Fishbowl Solutions was founded in 1999. Their areas of expertise include Oracle WebCenter, PTC’s Product Development System (PDS), and enterprise search solutions using the Google Search Appliance. Check out our site to learn more about what we do.

 

Taxonomy isn’t just for frogs anymore. What taxonomy means in document management.

 

taxonomyfrogTaxonomy can be a nebulous term. It has existed for years, having probably its most common roots in the sciences, but has blossomed to apply its practices to a plethora of other fields.  The wide application of taxonomy shows how useful and effective it is, yet its meaning can be unclear due to its diversity.  We identify with taxonomy in library sciences with the Dewey Decimal System and we identify with taxonomy in the scientific use when we talk about animals (Kingdom: Animalia; Phylum: Chordata; Class: Amphibia; Clade: Salientia; Order: Anura (frog)).  These are familiar uses to us.  We learned of them early on in school.  We’ve seen them around for years—even if we didn’t identify them as taxonomies.  But what is taxonomy when we talk about subjects, like documents and data, that aren’t so tangible?  As a Business Solutions Architect at Fishbowl Solutions, I encounter this question quite a bit when working on Oracle WebCenter Content document management projects with customers.

The historical Greek term taxonomy means “arrangement law.”  Taxonomy is the practice in which things, in this case documents, are arranged and classified to provide order for users.  When it comes to documents, we give this order by identifying field names, field values, and business rules and requirements for tagging documents with these fields.  These fields then describe the document so that we can order the document, know more about it, and do more with it.

Here’s an example:lilypadtax

  • Document Type: Policy
  • Document Status: Active
  • Document Owner: Administrator
  • Lifecycle: Approved
  • Folder: HR
  • Sub-Folder: Employee Policies
  • And so on…

Defining taxonomy for documents provides a host of business and user benefits for document management, such as:

  • A classification and context for documents. It tells users how a document is classified and where it “fits in” with other documents. It gives the document a name and a place. When a document is named and placed, it enables easier searching and browsing for users to find documents, as well as an understanding of the relationship of one document to another. Users know where it will be and how to get it.
  • A simplified experience. When we have order, we reduce clutter and chaos. No more abandoned or lost documents. Everything has a place. This simplifies and improves the user experience and can reduce frustration as well. Another bonus: document management and cleanup is a simple effort. Documents out of order are easy to identify and can be put in place. Documents that are ordered can be easily retrieved, for instance for an archiving process, and managed.frogelement
  • An arrangement that makes sense for the business. Using taxonomy in a document management system like Oracle’s WebCenter Content allows a company to define its own arrangement for storing and managing documents that resonates with users. Implementing a taxonomy that is familiar to users will make the document management system exponentially more usable and easier to adopt. No more guessing or interpreting arrangement or terminology—users know what to expect, terms are common, they are in their element!
  • A scalable framework. Utilizing a defined and maintained taxonomy will allow users to adopt the common taxonomy as they use the document management system, but will also allow for business growth as new scope (documents, processes, capabilities, etc.) is added. Adding in a new department with new documents? Got it. Your scalable taxonomy can be reused or built upon. Using a comprehensive taxonomy that is scalable allows for an enterprise approach to document management where customizations and one-offs are minimized, allowing for a common experience for users across the business.
  • A fully-enabled document management system. Lastly, defining a taxonomy will allow for full utilization of your OracleWebCenter Content, or other, document management system.   Defining a taxonomy and integrating it with your document management system will enable building out:
    • logical folder structures,
    • effective browse and search capabilities,
    • detailed profiles and filters,
    • advanced security,
    • sophisticated user interfaces and more.

Clearly, a taxonomy is the solution to providing necessary order and classification to documents. It creates a common arrangement and vocabulary to empower your users, and your document management system, to work the best for you.  Now hop to it!

This blog is the first in a series discussing taxonomy topics.  Watch for the next blog entitled “Taxonomy is a Sleeper. The reasons from A to ZZZs that taxonomy hasn’t been a part of your most important projects—but should be!”

Carrie McCollor is a Business Solutions Architect at Fishbowl Solutions. Fishbowl Solutions was founded in 1999. Their areas of expertise include Oracle WebCenter, PTC’s Product Development System (PDS), and enterprise search solutions using the Google Search Appliance. Check out our site to learn more about what we do.

Collaborate 2014 – 79 days until 79 degrees and Poolside WebCenter Discussions!

79 days.
Vegas.
Collaborate 2014.
79° F (average temp. in Vegas during April)

Fishbowl Solutions has another full list of activities planned for Collaborate 14. We look forward to discussing your Oracle WebCenter Content and Portal initiatives with you – hopefully poolside while we enjoy the warm weather together. It is a balmy 3° F in Minneapolis right now…

Here is a sneak peek of Fishbowl’s activities for Collaborate 2014:

Booth: 1453
Demos of our WebCenter Portal Solution Accelerator, SharePoint Connector 3.0, Google Search Connector for WebCenter and many more.

Presentations: 5

Here are the titles and abstracts of the sessions that Fishbowl is presenting or co-presenting on.

  • A Successful WebCenter Upgrade: What You Need to Know
    If your organization has not upgraded its WebCenter Content, Portal, or Imaging environment from pre-11g to 11g, then this 5-hour session is for you. Join WebCenter Content and Portal Specialized partner, Fishbowl Solutions, as they share facts and use cases that you will be able to apply to your WebCenter 11g upgrade. Fishbowl Solutions will be joined by customers who have successfully upgraded to 11g and therefore will be able to share their learnings, tips, and best practices that you will be able to utilize as well. This session will include a fact sharing discussion on upgrades, use case stories from WebCenter customers, and a roundtable forum where attendees will be able to ask questions specific to their Content, Portal, or Imaging upgrade. If your are planning your WebCenter upgrade and it seems daunting, or you aren’t sure where to begin; come to this session to collect first-hand and actionable information to get your upgrade project started and successfully completed.
  • Delivering on the Oracle WebCenter Portal Composite Application Vision – Top 5 Lessons Learned
    Most organizations see the benefit of creating composite web applications that aggregate services from disparate corporate and 3rd-party systems into a cohesive capability that efficiently supports business processes, driving self-service interactions for employees, customers and suppliers. The challenge is how to deliver on this vision, where to start, and how to plan and execute against your roadmap. Join us in this session as we discuss the Top 5 Lessons Learned at Rolls Royce in deploying WebCenter Portal, and how we were able to bridge content from multiple sources and surface that content to the right person, at the right time, and in the right context, to support our global customer portal.
  • Taking the WebCenter Portal User Experience to the Next Level
    Most organizations see the benefit of creating composite web applications that aggregate services from disparate corporate and 3rd-party systems into a cohesive capability that efficiently supports business processes, driving self-service interactions for employees, customers and suppliers. The challenge is how to deliver on this vision, where to start, and how to plan and execute against your roadmap. Join us in this session as we discuss the Top 5 Lessons Learned at Rolls Royce in deploying WebCenter Portal, and how we were able to bridge content from multiple sources and surface that content to the right person, at the right time, and in the right context, to support our global customer portal.
  • Leveraging BPM workflows for Accounts Payable Processing
    Accounts Payable departments are looking to create a more streamlined and paper-less business process. By achieving this an AP department, along with HR and many other departments are seeing huge ROI when converting from paper to digital management, but one key piece of this is the approval workflow of these documents. Oracle Business Process Management along side of Oracle WebCenter Imaging helps trigger an approval workflow to many different approvers to be acted upon. This session will describe how BPM workflows can be used for Accounts Payable processing and how they can be implemented with popular ERP applications like PeopleSoft and E-Business Suite.
  • Understanding Your Options for Searching Oracle WebCenter
    Search is a critical part of any effective content management solution. Without it, documents, web pages, policies, and other enterprise resources cannot be easily surfaced to end users. This session will explore the search technologies available to Oracle WebCenter customers including metadata-only search, Oracle Text Search, and Secure Enterprise Search, as well as the search functionality available with the Google Search Appliance. Attendees will get a side-by-side comparison of these search options covering the pros and cons of each technology and the use cases most suited to their capabilities. Whether you’re using WebCenter to power your website, intranet, or document management system, join this session to learn the differences between your search options and determine which one is best for you.

More information regarding the sessions above, as well as all of the scheduled sessions for Oracle WebCenter, can be found here: http://collaborate14.ioug.org/schedule

Did I mention it is 3° in Minneapolis right now with a high of 10° expected?! April, and Collaborate, can’t come soon enough.

The pool deck at the Venetian

 

 

The How and Why of Integrating SharePoint with Oracle WebCenter in 13 Minutes

Integrating Microsoft SharePoint with Oracle WebCenter Content is more of a question of why than how. Integrations between the systems have existed for 6+ years now, and each of those have had their own set of integration points and technologies to make the integration work. However, companies need to first understand and agree why they want to integrate the two systems. This starts with identifying the need or business problem that continues to persist without an integration.

Fishbowl Solutions has had an integration for the systems for three years. In that time, we have talked to hundreds of customers regarding their needs and business problems and the disconnect between SharePoint content and getting that content into Oracle WebCenter. Here are the most common needs/business problems we have heard:

  • Lack of Governance over SharePoint use and what happens to orphaned sites and content
  • Difficulty surfacing high-value content created in SharePoint to Oracle-based websites, portals and business applications
  • Inability to selectively determine the SharePoint content items to store in WebCenter – based on version, site location, or business unit requirements

If your company has identified any of the problems above, then it has effectively answered the why question. However, companies should also take a look at their overall information governance strategy and how SharePoint and Oracle WebCenter are a part of that strategy. For organizations that have answered the why, but also have determined that Oracle WebCenter Content is THE repository for enterprise, mission-critical information,  then the how questions can be asked and answered as well.

This 13 minute overview presentation and demo addresses both questions and may be a good place to start in helping you and your organization define its information governance strategy:

For your convenience, here are the time slots for the use case demos of Fishbowl’s connector:

  • Content Publishing – 3:16 to 5:45
  • Project Lifecycle Governance – 5:46 to 7:58
  • Business Specific Storage Requirements – 7:59 to 10:45

Happy Holidays!

Jason Lamon is a product strategist and technology evangelist who writes about a range of topics regarding content management and enterprise portals. He writes to keep the communication going about such topics, uncover new opinions, and to get responses from people who are smarter than him. If you are one of those people, feel free to respond to his tweets and posts.

SharePoint and Oracle WebCenter: Use Cases for an Integrated Content Management System

I had the privilege to present with John Klinke of Oracle WebCenter Product Management during a recent webinar. John and I discussed the integrations that Fishbowl and Oracle provide for SharePoint, and instead of focusing on the feature/function of the integrations (connectors), we chose to detail the use cases that each of the integrations satisfy. It was important to each of us – not to mention our respective companies – that we took this approach as customers were asking what the differences were between the connectors. Before I summarize the use cases for the integrations, let me start with the underlying technical differences.

SharePoint Storage Options

With the release of SharePoint 2013, Microsoft still provides the ability to store content outside the SQL Server database. This is facilitated through remote blob storage or RBS, which effectively enables BLOBS (binary large objects) to be stored within 3rd-party storage systems. Storing BLOBS outside of SQL Server was useful in SharePoint 2007 and 2010, as the BLOBS ( Word documents, PowerPoint presentations, etc.) were causing overall SQL performance issues because queries to the database had to go through many BLOBs to return data requests. However, SharePoint 2013 features shredded storage, which basically saves versions of documents in small chunks that get reassembled when users access them. For example, a simple text edit to a Word document, say a change to the document’s footer, would result in only the incremental change being saved to the database and not the entire document. You don’t need to be a database expert to understand the positive performance impacts this would have.

Anyway, using RBS still has its advantages, and the obvious one is for those customers that are looking to integrate SharePoint with Oracle WebCenter Content. RBS provides a proven integration method to move SharePoint content and associated metadata to WebCenter Content for access, consumption and delivery to other Oracle-based systems. However, RBS is is basically an all or nothing approach. That is, wherever a RBS provider has been enabled, at the site collection, site or library level, ALL document versions in that location will be stored remotely. The only way to limit what gets stored is by file size or type. So, for organizations that do wish to store the majority of SharePoint content remotely, or in this case within Oracle WebCenter Content, RBS is the way to go and this is the integration method that Oracle provides as of the WebCenter Content 11.1.1.8 release.

Customers looking for a more selective approach to store SharePoint content items will want to consider Fishbowl’s SharePoint connector integration for WebCenter. Fishbowl’s integration does not utilize RBS, and instead SharePoint event receivers are leveraged to determine document storage. This integration approach provides more granular control over content storage, while also giving SharePoint users specific control over the content items they want to store in WebCenter. The tradeoff with this more granular, user-controlled option is that duplicate items get stored between the systems.

With the technical details of each integration out of the way, let’s now talk use cases.

Use Cases for Fishbowl’s SharePoint Integration

  • Content Publishing
    The business scenario I discussed during the webinar was that of a SharePoint user on a marketing team working on a new product launch. During the lead up to the actual launch date, the user and their colleagues have created many assets to support the launch, including a brochure, new copy for the website, a launch plan, graphics and other images, and a press release. Most of these assets have multiple versions, and the user only wants to store or publish final versions of each so that they get surfaced to the company’s website.

Fishbowl’s SharePoint Connector for Oracle WebCenter Content features the ability to only store major versions of content in WebCenter. This allows users with specific knowledge of the content to publish the ability to do so, while also ensuring that only the final version of content gets stored before it can be seen internally or externally.

  • Project Lifecycle Governance
    This use case satisfies the requirement that many organizations have with their SharePoint system – deleting SharePoint libraries or whole sites at the conclusion of a project. The example I shared for this use case was that of members of a legal team working on a company acquisition. They have created and collected many documents to help with the acquisition, but once the acquisition is complete, the SharePoint library or site must be deleted to ensure the documents remain privy to the legal team and cannot be seen by anyone not authorized to do so.

For this use case, Fishbowl’s SharePoint Connector could be configured to allow content storage in WebCenter to occur via a check box. The description for the check box is configurable, but for example, it could simply say “Store in WebCenter”. Such a check box allows a site arbiter on the legal team to determine the content that needs to be retained and stored in WebCenter. This could be content that needs to be retained per compliance or legal reasons, as well as content that needs to be shared with users outside the legal team such as members of the executive team.

  • Business Specific Storage Requirements
    For this use case the example I shared is an organization that has many, different requirements for the SharePoint content they wish to store in WebCenter. These requirements are driven by the various business units. For example, members of an organization’s financial team will have different retention requirements of content and will have to store the majority of the content they create per financial document retention rules. Contrast this with the Legal team example described above who do not want to store the majority of their content and want to be more selective.

The feature to leverage for this use case is the ability to override storage settings that are initially made at the SharePoint central admin level. This feature enables organizations to get their SharePoint to WebCenter integration up and running quickly, but puts the control of content storage in the hands of the business units that understand exactly the content they need to store in WebCenter for retention, distribution, and re-purposing.

Use Cases for Oracle’s SharePoint Integration

I will not try to fully detail the use cases that John did such a great job discussing during the webinar, so I will provide a summary instead. For a more detailed description, please watch the on-demand recording. John begins discussing Oracle’s use cases at about minute 43.

  • Improve Performance
    John spoke to the advantages of storing BLOBs outside of SQL server, which would help improve overall system performance. With Oracle’s connector leveraging RBS, it is very easy for organizations to centralize all SharePoint content to WebCenter and leverage the Oracle database to scale to trillions of items.
  • Improve Governance
    For this use case, John spoke to how a lot of companies using SharePoint have struggled with governance of the system. Sites and overall use quickly spirals out of control leaving IT to clean up the mess of orphaned sites and content. By centrally managing this content in WebCenter, organizations can leverage the records and retention management policies they have in place to better manage content.
  • Re-Use Content
    The point John made with this use case is that by centralizing SharePoint content in WebCenter, that content can then be re-used or surfaced to other Oracle-based systems and applications – WebCenter Portal, WebCenter Sites, E-Business Suite, etc. Companies can leverage Oracle WebCenter’s out-of-the-box integrations for this purpose. The big benefit here is getting rid of SharePoint silos, and providing users access to high-value content outside of SharePoint.

Use Case Summaries

Well, there you have it. Integrating SharePoint and Oracle WebCenter Content can be achieved via the integrations that Fishbowl and Oracle provide. As you consider such an integration, please first consider your integration use case and ultimately what your organization is trying to achieve. Here is a table that summarizes and compares use cases for each integration:

You can access and watch the webinar recording from Fishbowl’s YouTube Channel. Enjoy, and please pass along any feedback.

Thanks for reading!

Jason Lamon is a product strategist and technology evangelist who writes about a range of topics regarding content management and enterprise portals. He writes to keep the communication going about such topics, uncover new opinions, and to get responses from people who are smarter than him. If you are one of those people, feel free to respond to his tweets and posts.