TxM 041 Section 4.6 Risks and common mistakes when developing taxonomies and configuring systems Created by James on 7/3/2013 5:20:45 PM
Following are the major risks and common mistakes when configuring systems and should be read in conjunction with other sections in the Taxonomy Handbook:
1. The factors causing Integrated Business Information System (IBIS) failure
The factors discussed in my book "The Critical Factors for Information Technology Investment Success" and refined in the intervening years – see section on these factors in the Handbook. Includes "IT Mythology", lack of executive custody, lack of strategic alignment, lack of an engineering (rigorous) approach, lack of change facilitation and inadequate information engineering (the subject of the Taxonomy Handbook).
2. Lack of executive level facilitation
The development of really effective taxonomies, or at least the development of the high level frameworks of such taxonomies requires a senior facilitator who can engage with client executives and guide the design process in order to ensure that the framework is strategically relevant at the executive level.
Most lists in business systems are developed by mid-level or even junior consultants working with mid-level or junior client personnel who are focussed entirely on operational issues or do not even understand the need for some form of logic with the result that at best the configuration might be described as "clerical". Often these personnel do not really even understand the "business of the business".
3. Do-it-yourself mind-set
Many clients try and develop lists themselves without an understanding that the development of really effective taxonomies requires detailed knowledge and experience.
4. Process-centric approach
Many clients and implementers place high reliance on "Business Process" not realizing that executive decision support should be the primary driver in defining the contents of lists and that process related definitions flow naturally from an executive strategic decision support focus with proper senior facilitation. The result is that lists are defined "back to front".
5. Failure to fully understand and apply "strategic", "engineered", "precision" or "taxonomy"
Elsewhere in this document the concepts of "strategic", "engineered", "precision" and "taxonomy" are defined in detail. Most clients and most implementers do not know or understand any of these principles in the context of taxonomies let alone the integrated concept of all of them applied at once and accordingly the lists created frequently only partially comply with these principles, if at all.
6. Insistence on backward mapping
Perhaps the single biggest mistake that is made is that people try and build new lists based on old lists – the old list is a vital source of information in terms of what is required to be included in the new taxonomy but UNLESS the old list is extremely well structured it should NOT under any circumstances form the basis of thinking with regard to the structure of the new list. And, since if the old list was well structured there would be no need to replace it, there is never a basis to build the new list using the old list as anything else but a brainstorming list and then doing detailed mapping at the end.
7. Lack of software to enforce and maintain precision
I have progressively come to see that in the medium to long term it is very difficult for organizations to maintain the precision of taxonomies and for this reason we are developing software for this purpose. I am of the opinion that the use of software is a vital component of maintaining taxonomies and this implies that the taxonomies are developed in the first place to the standards and conventions applied by the software.
8. Failure to implement effectively
The implementation of effective taxonomies is not trivial and includes the facilitation of the change process, proper testing, proper training and general preparation to use the tools effectively and this includes making sure there are adequate reports on the new taxonomies from the start.
It is a serious mistake to assume that because the taxonomies make so much sense that people know how to implement them intuitively.
It is also a mistake to assume that people know how to exploit the taxonomies and use them to their full potential without guidance. People are so locked into a mind-set of mundane detailed mapping of very basic and very simple reports that very few people seize the opportunity to build sophisticated reports and models and do complex analysis which is opened up by really précised engineered strategic taxonomies.
These are the major factors that I have encountered that result in sub-standard or non-existent precision in the configuration of systems.
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