Office 365 Architecture Information

How Office 365 Has Changed Information Architecture

Office 365 changes the information architecture game with modern team sites, communications sites, teams, and other new functionality. If you are tasked with records management, knowledge management, or other information management decisions, how does this functionality affect you? Sarah Haase, Enterprise Collaboration Strategist & Corporate Librarian, answers these questions and also touches on end-user adoption of these new technologies.


Erica Toelle: Hi, I'm Erica Toelle, Product Evangelist for RecordPoint.
Sarah Haase: Hi, I'm Sarah Haase, Information Architect and Corporate Librarian.
Erica Toelle: Sarah, you have been in the information architect space being a librarian, correct?
Sarah Haase: Right.
Erica Toelle: We're going through this shift now. In the old SharePoint world we'd think of things such as hierarchies and information architectures.
But, in the modern SharePoint world we're focused on experiences, it's a little bit different.
Sarah Haase: Very different.

How Has Modern SharePoint Changed Our Approach?

Erica Toelle: How are you thinking about approaching these new spaces?
Sarah Haase: Right. It is critical. If I could even back up one second from there. Librarians, in general, have had to make a significant tangential shift over the last 10 or 15 years.
We've moved from thinking about things in a library, in an electronic database, or a file stack, and Dewey decimal system. We think about things from a data classification perspective in SharePoint, right?
That's where we built those information architectures. They were detailed, hierarchical; they were taxonomies.
We had content-type hubs, and we had managed meta-data. We were trying to control all our term stores and trying to manage that, and now, it's all shifted.
It's all experiences, so it's much more about where does my content naturally belong to different types of users and various user groups?
For one user group, that might be an instant message experience, or a Skype experience embedded in Teams. For another group, it might be a OneNote experience. And, for another group, it might be a SharePoint team site or a SharePoint community site experience.
It's transitioning from those hierarchical methodologies to having more of an experience, and it's more of a where than a how. The how being that hierarchical data set. It's an essential switch for us to make as information architects and librarians because we must continue to evolve our way of thinking.

How Can You Scale This New Approach?

Erica Toelle: If every group might be different, how do you scale in helping them figure that out in a larger organization?
Sarah Haase: That's a key question, and it starts with education. It also begins with being able to partner strategically with different groups to figure out your personas. You need to understand the types of experiences that they have. Right?
There are only so many types of different personas that you're going to run into. You can figure out that these types of users have these types of business outcomes and needs. For example, here are the three to five or three to seven most likely ways that they're going to engage in the content.
Then you can start recommending in almost a matrix style. You can line up the type of personas and the kind of business teams. The third dimension is the type of experiences that might be meaningful for them. That can give them a running head start.
You, as a facilitator of outcome and information architecture and a technologist perspective might often be required to step in and help them on their journey.
However, at least it gives you some roadmaps and some guides, so it's not all just based on you or me going in and having that conversation with them one on one.

In There Space For Structure in the Modern SharePoint World?

Erica Toelle: In the old hierarchy world, we were building content-types for example, because we wanted standardized templates, workflows, and policies Do we have to give up on that in the modern experience? What do we do?
Sarah Haase: Not entirely, luckily, because I still love a lot of those things, but I think it again, depends on the business needs, and what we're doing. I believe that we were focused on those information management policies and the content types and where is the data and how is the data arranged in a hierarchical sense, and it has shifted somewhat, right?
Because OneNote is one of the most compelling tools for my business users and not one of them wants my help categorizing their notebooks and the sections of their notebooks. Why? Because they'll do it however they want to and everybody searches and it works.
The messaging is different, and the need is different, but there's still a need for business automation. There's always a need for those workflows or those flows and those power apps; it's just that suddenly the mechanics and the toolsets behind it are shifting and we've got to be adaptable and flexible to that.
Erica Toelle: And rebuild our solutions?
Sarah Haase: And rebuild our solutions where necessary and hopefully redesign them and improve them as we go.

Has End User Adoption Changed in the Modern Workpalce?

Erica Toelle: Got it. How about end-user adoption. Have those techniques changed in the modern workplace?
Sarah Haase: User adoption is my favorite thing. I think they have changed, especially in the last couple of years. One of my favorite things to talk about is the difference between the traditional models for user adoption and the user-centric models.
Traditional models are the sending out mass communications, one flavor, one style of communications to everyone, and expecting that they'll even consume it via email, much less that it's useful for them. Right?
Alternatively, a train the trainer approach. Select one person from every department to go to training and then take back what they learned to teach everyone else.
Or, even training on features and assuming that business users will make the connection between functions and their business outcomes in a meaningful way.
Those are a lot of significant assumptions, and it doesn't work anymore. Those types of models separate IT from their business.
I think a user-centric model is more about building strategic partnerships, being able to work with users, building those user personas that we talked about, engaging with key thought leaders and influencers who are also technology advocates and technology innovators in your organization.
Partner with them, help them to build the knowledge that they have, set them loose, and have them help you pay it forward to the rest of the organization.
It's much more about how to build a movement in terms of excitement and enthusiasm rather than the traditional approach of trainer the trainer, features, and mass-market communications.

Does Governance Matter in the Modern Workplace?

Erica Toelle: I know with an audience of record managers and librarians, we have to ask if we're opening up these user experiences, being more user-centric and experience and context-based, well, what about governance? Is there a place for governance anymore?
Sarah Haase: Every organization should be talking about governance, no matter where you are on that governance spectrum from we're going to be wide open with many things and we're going to have very few limits, to the kind of company that's going to have to have some particular models and fixtures around governance and how that works.
I think governance is critical to think about, but it's also essential to think about your company culture and how to represent that governance. I've worked with organizations before that have big pictures that tell the story or their governance and that's worked well for their company culture and for their users as a reminder of that governance.
I've also worked for companies that had a 47-page manual that got updated frequently with a changelog. It's really about the company culture, the company industry, the type of governance that they need, and you've got to make it fit the company as opposed to trying to make it fit a rubric or a standardized rule.
Erica Toelle: Makes complete sense. Any final words of wisdom for librarians or records managers as they make the transition from maybe this more hierarchical on-premise world to the modern workplace in Office 365?
Sarah Haase: I would say to be open, to be adaptable, and to say it's okay if you're not building out formal taxonomies, there's new fun to be had. So, be open and adaptable to the new kinds of fun because your skill set and your experience are still highly relevant. You must be able to figure out how to talk to people about it every day in the new world.
Erica Toelle: Perfect. Well, thanks so much for joining us.
Sarah Haase: Thank you.

Expert Interview Series

This video is a part of RecordPoint’s Expert Interview Series. In this series, we speak with top industry experts about topics related to compliance, governance, collaboration, and information management.

View additional videos from the RecordPoint Expert Interview Series

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