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Search Governance in SharePoint 2010

[ 2 ] October 17, 2011 |

I have been doing my ‘Why Your SharePoint Search Sucks’ presentation for a couple of months now and have been getting some great feedback. One area that I touch on in the presentation is the governance aspects of search.

Unfortunately most Governance plans, assuming they exist, don’t consider search from a vision, communication, operational and improvement perspective. Of course not having clear governance around search is one of the six reason your search may suck.

So what should a Search governance plan consist of and do? Well here are my ramblings on the matter:

Vision

What is the vision for your search beyond ‘Finding stuff easier’ or ‘Google like search’?

Your vision for search should be part of the overall vision for SharePoint within the organization. From a purely search perspective the vision of search should communicate the following:

  • What are we trying to achieve with search: Is it to connect people ( spending more effort on people search), is it to find content quicker ( consistent metadata and taxonomy), is it to promote innovation ( federated results and custom results pages)  or is it something else?
  • What is the roadmap for search: When will new content sources be bought on line? When will external content be indexed? Will we be implementing FAST or a third party product?
  • How can users influence search within the organization: What means are there to suggest improvements to search? How will search be tuned? Who will be responsible for a great search experience?
Your vision around search will ensure that the business is aware of what is trying to be accomplished with search and will guide a project team in their decision around search.

Criteria for content being indexed in the organization

“Just because you can doesn’t mean you should”

Too many organizations go on an all out indexing binge when they get SharePoint. In your governance plan you need to establish a clear criteria around what is going to be indexed and what is not. Some things to remember:

  • Indexing Content is NOT free. The more content that you index and expose to users the more difficult it is to control the accuracy and relevancy of your search results. You need more hardware. You need to manage it better. You need to consider DR more.
  • Don’t mix high value content with old garbage: Only index content that will provide value, tangible value to users. There is no point indexing quality data and content accessed once per year to present to users in the same scope.
  • Establish clear criteria for indexing content: You need to establish a clear criteria about what content will be indexed and what shouldn’t be. In my experience unless the business can justify high value use cases for said content, its not going to be indexed.

Who is responsible for search?

The responsibility should be part business and part IT

The best search implementations that I have seen have both a business and a technical side that is responsible for search. A good search should be robust and stable from an infrastructure perspective, whilst valuable and accurate from a business perspective.

A good SharePoint Analyst when dealing with search will do the following:

  • Gather requirements for best bets, keywords, scopes, refinements and all the other good search stuff
  • Match search capabilities to configuration and identify possible gaps
  • Work as an evangelist to promote search throughout the organization

Combined with a technical person that is responsible for:

  • Keeping search running (back ups, indexing, disaster recovery)
  • Determining how requirements should be configured or implemeneted

Keep the Default ( ‘All Sites’) Search Scope Holy

Don’t dump high value results with old crap and expect your search to be great

image

Not really part of governance but in my mind this is the biggest reason that search sucks for most users in SharePoint 2010. There is simply no reason for the default search scope to contain every single piece of content that you have indexed. This search scope should ONLY contain high value, frequently used items.

For less frequently accessed content use scopes to allow users to search for content, without tainting the default search scope. Here is an example of how various scopes can be leveraged to provide the ability to search for different type of content, whilst ensuring that search is effective for all.

image

Of course there are many more items that you should consider but hopefully this gets the creative juices flowing Smile

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Category: General

About Michal Pisarek: Michal Pisarek is the founder of Dynamic Owl Consulting and a Microsoft SharePoint MVP. View author profile.

Comments (2)

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  1. Dean says:

    In regards to your Keep All Scopes Holy suggestion, you seem to be implying that if someone searches all sites for the “expense report policy” it should not be returned because that would only be found in the policies & procedures scope. Am i interpreting this correctly? Could you please elaborate on what it would really mean to keep the default scope holy and how we should go about this. I’m a little bit confused about how we would go about ensuring only high value, frequently used content is included. I also don’t understand how we would explain to users that All Sites does not really include everything. Thanks

  2. Sorry for the super late reply.
    What I imply is that the All Sites scope shouldn’t be a dumping ground for all search content in the organization. Only content that is searched for regularly should be in that scope as it will improve the results for other users.
    In your example Dean I would say that there are other ways to achieve letting users know that expense reports could be in a different scope:
    1) Create a best bet that tells the user that this is an a seperate scope
    2) Federate in results from other scopes on the page from the side

    However this process essentially comes down to education of your user base and some training. The balance is do you train your users ( and possibly have better search results because you target your scopes ) or do you not educate them as much as have slightly lower quality results. Either option could be valid depending on the context of your organization.

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