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Enterprise Taxonomy for YMCA of the USA

YMCA of the USA (YUSA) is the headquarters and national resource office for approximately 2600 independently owned and operated YMCAs throughout the United States, and programs in more than 124 countries.

The Challenge
YUSA wanted to standardize the way they classify and organize information, to help facilitate internal knowledge management and external communications, such as navigation and search on public web sites owned by YUSA and independent YMCAs.

Our Work
Olkin Communications Consulting applied a user-centered approach to this taxonomy project, interviewing YUSA departments and people in various functions at YMCAs and analyzing hundreds of documents and online sources. The result was a hierarchical set of topics that encompassed the information produced, used, and referenced by YUSA and YMCAs. The taxonomy incorporated both generic business terms and YMCA-specific terms, such as the preferred nomenclature for programs, initiatives, and membership groups.

Once we developed a draft taxonomy, we refined it with the help of focus groups and card-sorting exercises.

The taxonomy has been incorporated in a series of knowledge management, technology, and business intelligence initiatives. As the organization, its activities, and its web properties evolve, the taxonomy will evolve along with them, facilitating efficient knowledge management and the discovery of information throughout the YMCA movement.