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Governing the Information Architecture - Model, Taxonomy, Metadata

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Governing the Information Architecture - Model, Taxonomy, Metadata

Jul 15, 2014  

   by Anthony Rhem, Ph.D.

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 affects 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.

Management of information architecture

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.


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.


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!  Join the KMI LinkedIn Special Topics group and add your voice to the discussion.

Dr. Rhem leads KMI's specialty courses (Master Classes and Certifications) in Information Architecture.  Please check the KMI calendar for upcoming dates.

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