At a practical level, the goal of a business glossary should be to eliminate confusion caused by using the same term/word to mean different things.
The business glossary creates a common language and understanding about business term in use in the business.
This seems simple until one tries to do it!
For example. let’s assume that we are asked to define the word “Calendar” in a business context.
A discussion with three different communities may establish that:
- For human resources the calendar is used to manage staff leave
- For project management the calendar tracks project deliverables
- For brokers the calendar identifies when the markets are open or closed.
Ultimately, one wants to reduce confusion by reducing or eliminating duplicate terms.
For the example above one might be unable to come up with a single definition for calendar that encompasses all three uses. instead one may define new context sensitive terms – “leave calendar“, “project calendar” and “trading calendar.”
Similarly, where two terms are used interchangeably it should be possible to agree on the preferred term for a particular purpose, and to capture less popular terms as synonyms. For example, the term “ID Number” could be a synonym for “South African identification number“, or vice versa.
The above process of decluttering one’s glossary may not be necessary from the beginning.
As one begins the task of consolidating differing glossaries – from different business areas and in differing formats – one may need to start by accepting duplicate terms in differing contexts.
Collaboration and data governance are critical
If we agree that the goal of the glossary is to reduce confusion we do need to consolidate or adapt these duplicate definitions over time. This can only be done through collaboration and governance – which should be built into your glossary.
In addition, one needs to select a technology platform that gives us the flexibility to capture duplicate terms initially and consolidate or rename these as consensus dictates.
Have you managed to solve your duplicate terms issue