During service and product engagements, our clients frequently ask us lots of good questions regarding SharePoint and Office 365. Probably the most frequent ones I hear within my role include, “How does my information architecture look?” or “Can you show me the easiest method to architect my information in SharePoint so finish users will find the sources they require easily and rapidly?”
Even just in age the cloud, SharePoint information architecture remains necessary for managers and users alike, and exactly how it’s worked with changes considerably with every latest version from the platform. A poorly architected solution could make everyone’s work and employ of SharePoint tougher.
Before we are able to address the customers’ questions, though, we have to first know very well what SharePoint information architecture is, the way it has changed with every SharePoint release (including SharePoint Online), and – possibly much more controversially – ask if there’s any purpose towards the concept now in the current era of social and analytics features like Office Delve.
In the realm of SharePoint, information architecture can generally be referred to as the structural style of information in the top level lower and could contain several layers, including:
- Site Collections and Sites – This is when submissions are kept in a structural way. For instance, your Hr business unit may have a website collection and every sub-team (Recruitment, Payroll, Work Safety and health, etc.) may be provisioned its very own team site. In this particular structure you’d find information associated with HR.
- Taxonomy Term Store and Term Sets – To make sure there’s a proper classification system, your data manager would create taxonomies in line with the business function and activity. For instance, within the HR (function) term store there might be a phrase set known as ‘Type of Travel’ (activity) with metadata for example domestic or worldwide.
- Site Posts and Content Types – Multiple-use structured content should be thought about because this will keep data consistency across your organisation. Ongoing using the above example, HR requires each employee who travels to accomplish a travel policy document and also to condition their travel type. Within this scenario, HR can produce a document library using the travel policy like a document content type along with a managed metadata site column known as ‘Travel Type’ which backlinks the word set ‘Type of Travel’.
To accomplish the above mentioned scenario, an out-of-the-box workflow may be implemented, but workflows aren’t typically considered as part of information architecture. Rather, workflows are a good way of disbursing information. For instance, HR includes a requirement of all completed travel policies to become authorized by the staff member’s manager. To do this, HR may use SharePoint’s out-of-the-box Approval workflow and configure the recipient is the staff member’s manager. Upon finding the workflow task, the manager will can either approve or reject the request.
Let’s move to ones of SharePoint – repeat the three earliest iterations (2001, 2003 and 2007). Like a cms, it permitted user to operate collaboratively having a solid security model. Enterprises accepted SharePoint and tried on the extender for their intranets and extranets. However, as with every system, should you pump in data with no significant information architecture, it may become hard for users to locate what they desire.
There has been numerous research reports on ‘information overload’ inside the workplace with lots of them concluding the typical worker spends a great deal of time locating the information they might require. Here are a few articles I stumbled upon having a quick search:
Information architecture in SharePoint 2007
With SharePoint 2007, there is Enterprise Search – the initial step in assisting you discover relevant information without dealing with sitemaps or browsing site contents currently-consuming way. There still wasn’t much you could do this if users input data with no proper information architecture. When the organisation experienced a restructure and/or sections altered, it might have produced multiple administrative tasks for site proprietors for example updating the website navigation menus and possibly any customised search scopes to guarantee the correct indexed content was came back.
Information architecture in SharePoint 2010
Microsoft was conscious of this discomfort, since with the discharge of SharePoint 2010, the word store was introduced combined with the idea of managed metadata navigation. Managed metadata navigation provided a regular global navigation which made finding information simpler. The social features ‘Tags & Notes’ and ‘I Like It’ button provided a means of telling others how relevant or interesting a bit of information was.
Information architecture in SharePoint 2013/2016
Within the newer versions of SharePoint (2013/2016), the extra social options that come with ‘Share’ and ‘Follow’ provided users the opportunity to start referring colleagues to information which is best for them. Even though the problem of “information overload” isn’t entirely resolved, the invention of knowledge has become much simpler.
How about Office 365/SharePoint Online?
As shared in Microsoft’s recent ‘The Way Forward For SharePoint’ event, you will find enhancements towards the SharePoint information architecture model. For example, whenever a SharePoint Website is produced, a corresponding Office 365 Group is going to be provisioned (and the other way around) with content sources residing inside the same managed path. The advantage of here it is supplies a consistency where the data will reside.
However, there could also be challenges for your organisation for the way Office 365 Groups are utilized. For instance, should you let the exterior users feature, will this result in a data integrity issue? Let’s say the incorrect metadata is used so users hunting for a particular term cannot uncover the right content? This is when In my opinion metadata is only going to be important, and we have to constantly realign the structural style of information as SharePoint Online evolves.
Around the switch side, Microsoft makes data discovery more user centric. Using the next group of emerging technologies according to analytics and user conduct, SharePoint Online, along with Office Delve, has become making search an autonomous experience. Why look for information when Delve knows what’s (or might) apply to you therefore it surfaces the right content? For instance, if you’re focusing on a task plan, odds are Delve (via Office Graph) works the linkages and relationship with other project documents and display them as products of great interest.
Using the new abilities at work 365 and SharePoint Online, performs this mean information architecture will stop being valuable and highly relevant to organisations? The reply is no. Instead of seeing it as being a disruptive pressure to information architecture, I view it more like a complementary solution.
Information will simply be as relevant while you allow it to be. For the SharePoint element and consider personal files system, you might imagine you will not look for a drive that contains thousands and thousands of files with no significant folder structure. Similarly for SharePoint, it goes to the data architecture layers also it might involve governance on the way. Based on small business, a company could begin by understanding data classification and metadata that’s relevant to be able to develop the dwelling. Information architecture is visible like a tree – the more powerful it’s in the base, the healthier it is with time.
Information architecture is visible like a design. To apply it’s all about governance. For some organisations, governance might come by means of a document that contains some processes, policies, and business rules.
The task of creating governance jobs are making certain people abide by it. To deal with this problem, consider applying an automatic solution which could pre-define processes and policies so demands could be finished with minimal input in the finish user. For instance, when an finish user submits a website creation request form, the connected workflow process will began without anyone’s knowledge. Because the process links to some pre-defined policy, the next thing is to instantly find out the finish user’s department and provision the website underneath the correct managed path structure.
Want to understand more about how AvePoint technologies that will help your organisation manage governance and knowledge management? Visit our product page to understand more about how DocAve Governance Automation can help you build up your information architecture based on the way your business works.