Referencing previous article: Are multiple entry points good or bad?
Our Intranet design has IA and global navigation that is currently based on locating targets along three axes. Content is sparsely populated within these axes. The three axes used are company division, company office, and department. The idea was initially that any sites created within this intranet would have values at all three axes, and that anything too ambiguous to fit cleanly within these axes would go under root-level "Global *" pages, for example, "Global Legal", and that those global pages would override the intermediate landing pages for any of the department selections. Essentially, almost every departmental site would be two clicks away from the homepage.
The problem is that this has been a huge bear when trying to slot new content. There's no content that is office-specific and in my view we're unlikely to have any, so designing around an axis that's not really relevant to filtering the content isn't going to do anything other than make content access less direct, and introduce artificial barriers between people that work on the same content within the same division but different offices. There's content that is slotted divisionally and then by office only by virtue of the fact that people in that office made it, but it's frequently information that would be relevant or useful to people outside that division and office and doesn't have any principle of "ownership".
The IA decisions which were made before my arrival also introduced technical problems that I'm now working on solving, and as part of this solution, I'm taking the time to try to convince highers-up that the approach taken is (in my view) a suboptimal one. The company is not very large (<300 employees) and this IA seems grossly overengineered for the task. The analytics bear this out - the only people that use the office axis are those that operate in small remote locations (five or fewer people). I don't want to disenfranchise those people, but in my view, the enforcement of inclusion of physical location in the data is forcing us to make other bad decisions. Then there's also the (in my view) arbitrary decision to determine what is and is not a valid department. For this design, we have grouped all the finance and accounting material into a single node which then branches off into separate subnodes, despite each of them having plenty of unique content on their own. The parent node itself has no function other than forcing the user to make one more click to get to the content they were looking for.
My plan is to leave the current navigation system intact but reorganize all the content so that content is shared between divisions within the same site unless it makes sense to segregate it, so the organization of content is flattened down rather than almost always being three levels deep. Suborganizations of the content would not have to adhere to any static sorting (IE - URLs wouldn't have to always be /department/division/office/home.aspx). This would allow the departments themselves to determine a particular sub-organization system, if one is needed at all. This would also allow for subdivisions such as the aforementioned Finance and Accounting groups to be handled more cleanly.
Am I making the better approach here? I'm all for keeping things simple for the users, but it seems to me that we're diluting the experience in the interests of making it overly accessible.