MVPs for Office 365: Organize Your Information Better in SharePoint Online Office 365 with Managed Metadata

Editor’s Note: The following is a guest post by Office 365 MVP Myles Jeffery as part of the MVP Award Program Blog’s “MVPs for Office 365” series. Myles is the owner of
Thinkscape, a product development company and early adopter of Microsoft cloud.
Myles contributes to the community through the Microsoft SharePoint Online
forum, presenting at Microsoft cloud events and through his blog

is busy managing the development of migration tools and business productivity
solutions in readiness for Office 365 GA.

Organize Your Information Better in SharePoint Online Office 365 with Managed Metadata

SharePoint Online Office 365 brings a host of new features. The one I’d like to highlight is managed metadata. Managed metadata is “a hierarchical collection of centrally managed terms that you can define, and then use as attributes for items in SharePoint Online”.

Managed metadata is an exciting way to categorise and discover information. I can see this helping a lot of businesses work more efficiently with information.

Let’s take a look at an example. I recently purchased a new laptop. I did my research in-store; the kinds of things that were important to me were price (of course), processor, memory, screen size, manufacturer… and colour! Those attributes are just the kind of thing that works well for managed metadata.

That gave me the idea for the scenario for this article; I am a retailer of computer hardware and need a means to classify our laptop product description documents in SharePoint Online. I choose managed metadata to do this. This will give me uniformity over the classification terms and ease of finding the documents. Here’s how to do it.

I’ll create the terms first. To do that, I go to the SharePoint Online administration centre and select Term Store: terms are how we classify information. SharePoint Online gives me an easy to use interface to create my terms. Here’s how I created mine, you can see how the terms are hierarchical in nature:


These terms are now available to all my site collections. Next, using the SharePoint Online administration console, I create a new site collection. I select the Document Centre template.

The Document Center template creates a document library for me as standard called Documents. For each of the term sets (manufacturer, screen size, processor etc.) I added a new column to the Documents library, set the column data type to managed metadata and selected the appropriate term set in my term store. This is a screenshot when I set up the Manufacturer column, I chose the Manufacturer term set:

So now I have a document library with a column for each of my term sets. I then uploaded my product description documents and assigned the appropriate terms for each.
Entering the term information for each document is easy. SharePoint Online supports type-ahead suggestions as you can see here:
Now the final part. I want to enable SharePoint Online’s metadata navigation and filtering capabilities so that my employees can easily navigate and find the right information using the term sets. To do this, I go to the document settings page and select the Metadata Navigation Settings option. From there, I can then choose which columns I want to appear in the hierarchy navigation menu and the filter fields area. These are the settings I chose:
And this is how it looks. The term sets can be navigated in section 1. It’s just like a folder structure except it’s for the terms I created. The filter area in section 2 allows me to filter out information I don’t want (it applies no matter what I select in section 1). And finally, in section 3, my document list updates to show only the documents that match the term sets selected in the hierarchy and the filters.
With all this information entered, now let’s explore it! I can navigate in to my term set hierarchy and filter the documents. Finding all the product information documents for the Intel Core i3 is as easy as expanding the terms and selecting the Core i3 term:
If I want to see all product description documents for Intel, I just have to select the Intel term and all the child terms are selected automatically. The document view updates accordingly:
I hope you found this article useful and you learned something new about managed metadata in Office 365 and how it might help your business in future. I can’t wait for Office 365 to go GA, it’s going to have an immensely positive impact on business productivity worldwide!
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