Delivering document management success

New information architecture and compliance frameworks

Metataxis is pleased to continue to support yet another public sector organisation with their document management and Microsoft 365 implementation.

Over the past 12 months, we have been working closely with this government agency to deliver information architecture and compliance frameworks to underpin their Microsoft 365 solution for document management.

Structuring information architecture will make it easier for users to identify connections and patterns in their data. Armed with these valuable insights into their organisation, the team will be able to leverage the information to improve decision making.

After successfully introducing these new frameworks for this executive non-departmental public body, we are now providing services to design and implement the SharePoint structure and metadata necessary for the effective rollout of SharePoint, as well as managing the migration of all their content from their network drives to the Microsoft cloud.

The value of information management for Microsoft 365

Metataxis are experts in designing and delivering information management frameworks for Microsoft 365. We understand the value and importance of a well-structured, clear information architecture to support both private companies and public sector bodies effectively manage data security and meet all regulations.

Find out more about our information architecture services or simply contact us to discuss how we can help your organisation today.

Information Architecture – a balancing act

The information architecture conundrum

In his latest blog, Alex Church, Senior Consultant at Metataxis, discusses the balancing act involved in developing an effective information architecture that appeals to all stakeholders within an organisation.

The optimal benefits of an information architecture

When developing an information architecture for our clients, we try to live by our definition of ‘a way of organising all your information for most benefit’.

However, this raises the question of ‘most benefit’ for whom and for what purpose?

This is where the balancing act comes in, as we may have to, for example, consider two of the objectives that the information architecture will support: Findability and compliance.

  • Findability – structure and navigation; filtering and grouping; search, etc
  • Compliance – retention; information protection; access control, etc

Information architecture from a compliance perspective

In this case, taking a compliance perspective puts a very different spin on how you organise your information in contrast to how a user regards their information.

Organising information in a way that makes your records manager’s life easier isn’t always going to do the same for those who work with the information on a day-to-day basis.

Information architecture balance

From our experience, you’ll soon be getting complaints from users if compliance is the driving force behind your information architecture.

However, compliance is clearly important, so we do need to factor it in, but in a way that does not impinge on people’s ability to work in an effective and efficient manner. There is likely to be some compromise on both sides, so engagement with stakeholders across the organisation is key both in understanding user requirements and getting acceptance of the end result.

The art of information architecture

Finding the right balance between these competing needs is where the art of information architecture comes in.

In SharePoint and Microsoft 365 we would, for example, look at what level we create the sites, how we use libraries, content types, columns as well as metadata in order to efficiently organise and categorise information.

With regards to records management, we would need to consider how we create retention labels and policies in Purview and how we can align their implementation to the information architecture. Questions to consider could include: “can we apply default retention labels to libraries?” and “how can we use metadata to trigger retention?” and if we need to flex it to accommodate our compliance requirements.

Identifying the priorities

As seasoned information architects here at Metataxis, we use our experience in engaging with stakeholders, weighing up the competing priorities, and using the different information architecture elements at our disposal to satisfy both requirements.

If you’re looking to address the balance of your information architecture, simply contact us today.

It’s good to talk

We are often engaged by our clients to help them develop a strategy for managing their information.

It should go without saying that understanding the information requirements means understanding the business.

Being a consultant does not mean having a cursory conversation and then magically producing a boilerplate strategy out of your back pocket.

Being a good consultant means…well, it means consulting, and then applying your knowledge in the unique context of the organisation you’re working with.

Understanding this context means spending time talking to people, not only those at the top with the ‘vision’ but also spending time with those on the ‘frontline’ who deal with the day to day and who make the organisation tick. These are often the ones who suffer the most from poor information management, wasting time looking for the information they need, redoing work or relying on out of date or inaccurate information.

Gaining this overview right across the business – understanding how it works and the constituent entities that make up the domain (to go all information architecture speak) gives valuable insight and often gives us a better view of the enterprise than those within it.

Only by doing this can you then understand the business, how information management can help and what the strategy should be.

An invaluable by-product of the time spent talking to people is that you have started one of the crucial aspects of the strategy implementation before it is even written – change management. Talking to people means that you have already started engagement and staff will be more willing to accept change and act on it if they feel their concerns and issues have been listened to and are being addressed.

It really is good to talk.

Pause for thought

Managing your information, and implementing a system to do it, is a complex task with many knots that need to be unravelled and it takes time to get it right.

All too often the focus of a project implementing such a solution is on getting it done rather than doing it right. Too much effort is spent moving the projects through various gateways rather than spending time on actually thinking through what needs to be done.

Information management systems such as SharePoint too often founder and ultimately fail to deliver the desired benefits because of this. Typically a system is rolled out successfully (i.e. on time) but it quickly degrades and information chaos ensues leaving users frustrated, information difficult to find and impossible to manage. In all likelihood you’ll end up with another project to put it right in a couple of years.

This situation can been avoided.

Proper thought must be given to understanding where you are and what you information landscape looks like. How can you build a system to manage your information if you don’t know what you’re intending to manage?

You must develop an information strategy so you know what you want to achieve and how you are going to go about it.

You must take time to design an information architecture that meets the needs of your users. This is vital to enable you to organise, describe and link information and the key to the efficient and effective use and management of your information.

And don’t forget about putting in place governance – without support, oversight and nurturing your nice new system will quickly end up a chaotic mess.

Remember that rolling out a system that meets a deadline doesn’t mean that you have a successful solution.

Think, plan, design – don’t just ‘do’.