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Much like the building of a house, the planning and designing of the online destination is an important part of any Cloud Migration.
What is Information Architecture?
Creating a structure for the information, through organising, categorising and mapping out where the data will reside, is integral to an effective move to the Cloud. So, really, it’s no wonder this process is called information Architecture.
But is Information Architecture difficult? And why does it matter when it comes to moving to a SharePoint EDRMS? In this article, our Senior SharePoint Consultant Seamus Stowe answers questions on why the Information Architecture behind a SharePoint deployment is a “Grand Design.”
What are the main objectives for Information Architecture?
When planning the new environment, there should be two main end goals for the project:
- How do we organise information so that it is easily accessible and searchable when our users are looking for it?
- And how can information be opened up to our users so it is discoverable when they aren’t necessarily looking for it in this new collaborative world?
What do they both boil down to? Data and User Experience. They’re the most important assets to your business, so you have to put thought into it.
Why is Information Architecture important?
An awful lot of organisations had to move to SharePoint very quickly during the pandemic and react without thinking about it. But unbeknownst to them, they’ve created this Information Architecture Frankenstein sitting in the background.
For those organisations, information isn’t easy to find, there’s been no access controls implemented, and there’s been no processes put in to place to manage how long the data has to be retained. SharePoint is collaborative platform so information is supposed to be shared, but that can destroy any type of security model if not managed correctly.
Without ensuring the structure is in place first can be detrimental in the new online environment as users cannot do their day-to-day jobs effectively and/or there are serious governance implications.
Is Information Architecture difficult to do?
Organisations with a lot of data think it’s an insurmountable mountain. But it doesn’t have to be, and it can be quite phased in the way it operates. If I could give 2 pieces of advice, they would be:
- Work with your users- they will tell you what is important, what needs to be deleted at certain times and what is sensitive and therefore, access needs to be restricted, etc.
- Work on critical operations first, for example HR and Finance. They are two very distinct units and generally have all the requirements that organisations need, such as strong security and complex retention rules.
What is the most effective way to structure information in SharePoint?
Create a flat site structure and by this, I mean 3-5 levels max. The modern SharePoint architecture is built around platforms such as Teams where search is so important. You have to consider metadata and the fact that it being used to find information. Content is more discoverable when it is not buried deep.
Finally, what if we get it wrong?
Don’t have the expectation that you will get it right first time – you never will! Just as you might decide to change your physical structure by knocking two rooms together, Information Architecture is ever changing to adapt to the needs of the growing organisation and the changing UX design. Or, as I like to say, Information Architecture thankfully is forgiving and agile!
If you want to know more about Information Architecture for SharePoint, or the benefits of a SharePoint EDRMS, join our roundtable Why Records Management in M365 has never been easier on 27th May.