One ultimate goal for any Knowledge Management system is to quickly deliver accurate information to users. There are many factors that assist in the success of this goal; the first of which I believe is planning. It is my hope this article will provide you with a foundation for understanding what needs to be planned before you attempt to configure MOSS 2007 Search Services.The Planning Team
For any large IT project, a key success factor is dependent on the planning team; your planning team for MOSS 2007 Search Services requires the same level of commitment and detail. The overall effectiveness of your Knowledge Management Solution can be based on the success of the Search Services.
Project Management, Knowledge Management and Business Analyst
Your planning team will require your Portal Implementation Project Manager, Knowledge Management and Business Analyst staff. The Project Managers primary responsibility will be to provide the project planning activities such as organize meetings, update requirements documentation and provide status reports. In addition these team members will be responsible for meeting with LOB and Departmental staff to scope data sources, contextual based constraints and keyword usage.
Your planning team will also require members from IT because they are responsible for managing the server farm and Shared Service Providers; which includes the configuration of Search Services, User Profiles, Audiences, Excel Services and the Business Data Catalog.
LOB and Departmental Representation
As indicated above, there will be a need for LOB and/departmental representation. This is required for a number of reasons: Defining the sources of information (content) is part of the LOB and departmental responsibilities. For example you may have a data source requirement that includes the ability to search information from an operational business system or external web site. Defining the context in which search queries will be constrained to; also known as scoping. For example, the search term “contract” may have different meanings across organizational boundaries; as such, the Search Services will provide the ability to narrow the results for a specific LOB, department, etc. Defining a consistent set of keywords that will be used across all Sites and Sub-sites for an LOB or department is critical. If this information was not previously documented in your overall Portal implementation taxonomic structure, it can be added now.
Lastly, if your requirements include the customization of the search and results user interfaces, you will need to include the appropriate development staff.
Now that you have your planning team in place, the next steps are to define the sources of content. Microsoft Office SharePoint Server 2007 has the ability to index its own content store, internal and external web sites, file shares, public Exchange Folders, Lotus Notes/Domino, LOB application data, and others. You are given a wide variety of ways to configure how this information is indexed. For example, you may chose to configure an external web site content source to be indexed once each day while an internal LOB database is indexed every hour. These configuration options will be determined based on:
• How often the source is updated.
• The need for up-to-date information.
• Index server and supporting infrastructure capacity.
Content Source Example
To best describe the process for planning Content Sources is to use an example. In this example our fictitious company, Litware Corporation, has only two departments; i.e. Information Technology (IT) and Sales. The Information Technology department has their own dedicated Portal (Site Collection) due to the vast differences in taxonomic structure, large quantity of technology and project information. The Sales department is part of the corporate Intranet Portal (Site Collection) and is primarily used as a repository for NDA’s, proposals, contracts and other associated information. The Information Technology department will have their entire IT Portal (Site Collection) indexed. In addition (see Table 1), there are two external Microsoft TechNet web sites that contain information specific to the Litware Corporation infrastructure; so these will be included (indexed 2 levels deep). As indicated in Table 1, the Sales department is part of the Litware Corporate Intranet Portal and requires this content source. In addition, there are a number of large marketing related files stored on a file share the Sales department will use; these will also be included as a content source (see Table 2).
Scopes are used as a means of grouping content sources thus adding a level of context and relevance to search results. A scope definition in MOSS 2007 can contain one too many rules for including and excluding content. For example, a scope can be defined to include one or more content sources and also have a rule for excluding items that match specific criteria; criteria such as web addresses and properties.
Using our fictitious Litware Corporation, Table 3 shows how scoping rules could be defined. Using the scoping rules defined as above, when the Information Technology scope is being searched, the results will include items from the IT Portal and both Microsoft TechNet sites; nothing more. And the same applies to using the Sales scope; when used, results will only include items from the Litware Corporate Portal and Marketing Collateral Materials. Effectively using scopes to control search results is important because it confines the information to a known set of sources; i.e. context.
Keywords and Best Bets
Keywords in MOSS 2007 are used as a means of providing a direct correlation between search terms and documents; i.e. Best Bets. For example, you can define the keyword “funnel” and assign the result to the Sales Funnel report; http://Intranet/Sales/Pages/FunnelReport.aspx. From this point forward, any user that searches for this keyword the Funnel Report page will be displayed as Best Bets results. For each keyword, you can also define synonyms. Synonyms give you the ability to provide other variations of keywords. For example, if you are defining the keyword “color” you may wish to include the synonym “colour” since this is a common spelling of the same word. Table 4 provides a list of common information gathered when defining Keywords and Best Bets for MOSS 2007.
It is my hope this article helps you understand the need for planning before you attempt to implement Search Services in Microsoft Office SharePoint Server 2007; planning thoroughly will improve search result quality. To gain further knowledge of the overall Search Service Planning process, I invite you to read Planning and Architecture which can be found on Microsoft Office SharePoint Server TechCenter; http://www.Microsoft.com/TechNet/ProdTechnol/Office/SharePoint.