I’ve been reading a couple of good books on taxonomy: Darin L. Stewart’s Building Enterprise Taxonomies and Patrick Lambe’s Organising Knowledge: Taxonomies, Knowledge and Organisational Effectiveness. Stewart’s book is a good introduction. Lambe’s delves deeply into the topic and has interesting discussions on how taxonomy relates to other fields such as knowledge management and information architecture.
When I work on SharePoint projects, clients express a direct interest in taxonomy because the topic has become part of the literature on SharePoint, especially related to governance. But actually, taxonomy is everywhere in enterprise software though rarely discussed as such. In addition to the obvious areas of search, document management, and knowledge management, taxonomies appear in CRM, ERP, Enterprise Project Management, Business Process Management, and business intelligence. In data warehouses, the dimensions represent taxonomies.
Distinct applications need their distinct taxonomies, and both Stewart and Lambe warn against too much structure, too much consistency, but in some cases there may be common ground that can be discovered by looking at taxonomy at an enterprise level, and efficiencies that can be gained by establishing a common language where possible.
To dig more deeply into taxonomy, follow Patrick Lambe’s blog an interesting blog at http://www.greenchameleon.com/.