The Knowledge Management (KM) Depot

The Knowledge Management (KM) Depot

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Governing the Information Architecture

The enterprise is ever changing, and the information architecture (i.e., content model, taxonomy and metadata) should and will evolve. This evolution may include developing new content types, expanding/collapsing the taxonomy and modifying the metadata, as well as relationships between content types and its associated business rules. This effects all of your applications (including customer facing websites and intranet sites) and a plan to manage and govern its use must be put in place.

By managing the Information Architecture you can promote the consistency of the information used across all organizational areas, teams and systems. The content model facilitates consistency in storing, retrieving, and presenting content while improving the search (“findability”) of content. By managing enterprise content (information and knowledge), its metadata, and associated taxonomy, the customers (internal and external) that use these various applications will find the content they are looking for when and how they need it.

The following gives some brief information on managing the Content Model, Taxonomy and Metadata Schema:
Content Model - The Content Model (CM) represents the graphical “road map” of content in support of the customer along with their associated relationships. The intent is that all software systems using content across the enterprise will align with the CM. Situations will arise where changes to the model will be needed, certain business activities may in fact necessitate a change to the model. Managing the changes and understanding the impacts downstream (taxonomy, metadata, and systems) must be coordinated and acted upon.
Taxonomy - Taxonomies evolve as the business grows, extend as additional technology-related functions are incorporated, and morph as the business model changes. Once implemented, it is imperative to conduct frequent and consistent pulse checks with the business to continually gauge the taxonomy’s fit and relevance. Armed with this information, the appropriate governance measures can be taken to adapt the taxonomy to meet evolving requirements.
Metadata - The metadata schema governance represents the business discipline for managing the metadata about the content of the organization. The intent is that all software systems using content across the enterprise will incorporate the recommended metadata associated to the content. Metadata governance will ensure consistency of name and meaning of metadata fields and its associated values (i.e., reconcile the difference in terminology such as "clients" and "customers," "revenue" and "sales," etc.). Metadata governance will also ensure clarity of relationships, by resolving ambiguity and inconsistencies when determining the associations between entities stored throughout content environment. For example, if a customer declares a "beneficiary" in one application, and this beneficiary is called a "participant" in another application, metadata definitions would help clarify the situation.
So, the question is are you managing/governing your Information Architecture? If not, why? I am very interested in hearing your thoughts on this subject!



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Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Leveraging Faceted Search

In my upcoming publication Knowledge Management in Practice I detail search in a chapter called "Dude Where's my Car: Utilizing Search in KM". At the KM World Taxonomy Boot Camp I spoke about Utilizing Ontologies for Taxonomy & Content Organization and during this discussion there were questions concerning faceted search. Before the year ends (literally) I wanted to provide some details concerning faceted search:

Faceted search offers remarkable potential for putting the search experience in the hands of the user. It provides a flexible framework by which users can satisfy a wide variety of information needs, ranging from simple look up and fact retrieval to complex exploratory search and discovery scenarios.

With faceting, search results are grouped under useful headings, using tags you apply ahead of time to the documents in your index. For example, the results of a shopping query for books might be grouped according to the type of book and the price.

Each time the user clicks a facet value, the set of results is reduced to only the items that have that value. Additional clicks continue to narrow down the search—the previous facet values are remembered and applied again.

Faceted search results provide an easy-to-scan, browse and display that helps users quickly narrow down each search. The faceting tags that you store with your documents provide a way to add your own taxonomy to directly control the presentation of search results. In the end, it's about helping the user find the right information. Faceted search gives a user the power to create an individualized navigation path, drilling down through successive refinements to reach the right document. This more effectively mirrors the intuitive thought patterns of most users. Faceted search has become an expected feature, particularly for commerce sites.

However, before you get too deep into the intricacies of faceted search, it is extremely important that you develop use cases or user stories around your search scenarios mentioned earlier. A great way to get started is to identify the main concepts you would like to search (People, reports, policies, etc.); next create logical categories (start by building or leveraging a taxonomy) for each group (Engineers, Executives, Administrators, etc.) a card sort exercise will be helpful here, and finally create (or use a current) information/content model showing relationships and considering navigation paths.

This will put you on a path to realizing the benefits of faceted search!

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Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Santa Claus is.. was... Real?

Have you ever wondered why your parents went through all of that trouble to tell you about Santa Claus and being good in order to receive presents? Was it all an elaborate scheme that all parents had everywhere to get their children to behave albeit for a short period of time? Well as we all became older and became parents we continued to tell our children about Santa Claus… and the story… just continued!
But wait… hold on there… STOP THE BUS!!! A story this elaborate, so contrived, that has gone on for I don’t know how long has to have some basis of fact? Doesn’t it? Well I’m here to tell you IT DOES!! According to History.Com the legend of Santa Claus goes back to the third century! Originally Santa was a monk named St. Nicholas. St. Nicholas was born sometime around 280 A.D. in Patara, near Myra in (modern day) Turkey. He was much admired for his piety and kindness, and It is said that he gave away all of his inherited wealth and traveled the countryside helping the poor and sick. Over the course of many years, St. Nicholas's popularity spread and he became known as the protector of children and sailors. In fact his feast day is celebrated on the anniversary of his death on December 6. This day was traditionally considered a lucky day to make large purchases or to get married. By the Renaissance, St. Nicholas was the most popular saint in Europe.
So, when and how did he become Santa Claus? According to History.Com, the name Santa Claus evolved from Nick's Dutch nickname, Sinter Klaas, a shortened form of Sint Nikolaas (Dutch for Saint Nicholas). In addition the legend grew to its current imagery when in 1822, Clement Clarke Moore, an Episcopal minister, wrote a long Christmas poem for his three daughters entitled "An Account of a Visit from St. Nicholas." Moore's poem, which he was initially hesitant to publish due to the frivolous nature of its subject, is largely responsible for our modern image of Santa Claus as a "right jolly old elf" with a portly figure and the supernatural ability to ascend a chimney with a mere nod of his head!

Well as you can probably imagine the story continues…. For additional information on the Big Jolly Fella check out the Museum of Unnatural History and the St. Nicolas Center

As we celebrate Christmas don’t forget the reason for the season… a celebration of the birth of Christ (for all of us Christians) and a celebration of family and spirit of giving for all of us no matter your religious beliefs and/or spiritual connection. At this time we need to be especially kind, helpful and loving to everyone we meet and interact with. Remember when the time comes share the “true” story of Santa Claus and his love and generosity toward all!
I want to wish everyone a Happy Holiday Season!!!

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Thursday, November 28, 2013

The Role of the Information Architect

The Role of the Information Architect

Often when I am working with organizations to implement a Knowledge Management (KM) Solution the role of the business and more specifically the users of the application are discussed. The users of the proposed KM application will determine its worth to the organization. If the system is not used and/or is poorly received the organization would have wasted time and valuable resources in developing the KM solution. When this occurs KM in many instances receives a negative view in the minds of the people at the organization and this leads to the abandonment of KM entirely. To prevent this unseemly situation and to get your organization started in the right direction I would recommend bringing in an Information Architect. In this role the information Architect will be the catalyst to bring the users together, along with specific business objectives to enable the KM solution to be adopted by the users and embraced by the organization.

One thing you may be asking is “How does the Information Architect accomplish this?” The information Architect Instead of focusing on typical IT problems, comes to the project with a threefold focus: Users of the Information, the Information Itself and the Business/Organization. With this focus the Information Architect will perform the following tasks:

·       Gather Requirements pertaining to the content and structure of the KM solution (SME’s and Users are heavily involved here)

·        Construct the Information Model (SME’s and Users are heavily involved here to further define and validate Content)

·        Instantiate Business Rules (depicted as relationships) onto the model (SME’s and Users are heavily involved here to further define and validate Content Relationships)

·        Develop the Taxonomy (categorizations of content (information & knowledge) for the KM Solution

o   SME’s and Users are heavily involved here

o   Card Sort exercise is often used to solidify the Content Categories and Taxonomy

·         Develops the Metadata Schema (specific information about the content)

·         Develops Standards for Content Assembly

·         Contributes to the development of the Style Guide for Content Delivery

·         Contributes to creating an authoring Environment that would leverage the Standards and Style Guide for Content

When developing your KM solution having an Information Architect (or team of Information Architects) will ensure user and business involvement as well as the adoption and use of the KM solution. This is a step in the right direction to contribute to KM being viewed as a positive influence and having value within the culture of your organization.
If your organization is considering developing or enhancing a KM Solution and are using or considering using an Information Architect I would like to especially hear from you!

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Friday, November 22, 2013

The Need for Knowledge Governance

Once your organization has established its Knowledge Management Program and has populated the knowledge repository with the corporate knowledge assets, it is now time to provide for the "care and feeding" and the ongoing maintenance of your corporate knowledge. In order to do this a governance plan has to be established and executed.
Content (information and knowledge) governance is the orchestration of people, process, and technology to enable the organization to leverage content as an enterprise asset. Content governance details the managing of issues around incomplete content, poor or untimely access to content, lack of or poor metadata and managing and resolving duplicate (or similar) content.

The Knowledge Governance Plan describes the policies, procedures, roles, and responsibilities, as it pertains to maintaining content. Effective governance planning and the application of the governance plan are critical for the ongoing success of your knowledge management program.

The Knowledge Governance plan will establish the processes and policies to:
  • Avoid content proliferation
  • Ensure Content is maintained by implementing quality management policies
  • Establish clear decision-making authority and escalation procedures so policy violations are managed and conflicts are resolved on a timely basis.
  • Ensure that the solution strategy is aligned with business objectives so that it continuously delivers business value.
  • Ensure that content is retained in compliance with record retention guidelines.
This is just the beginning of understanding how to govern your knowledge assets. If your organization will or has established a governance plan for it's knowledge assets I would like to hear from you!

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