Make Your Business Glossary Dynamic

Make Your Business Glossary Dynamic

StockSnap_P77QU8Z14G_lightning_dynamicbusinessglossary_BPA business glossary is important for any organization as it is used by such individuals as business users, self-service users, data architects, department managers, new employees, and data governance professionals. A business glossary stores your business terms. The content in the business glossary is information designed to improve business understanding and use of data. You need to make your business glossary public and accessible. And it should be dynamic. This blog post will discuss what needs to be contained in a dynamic business glossary and some best practices.

The business glossary needs to be easy to update and maintain. It should not be a pdf document or a spreadsheet which can be stored on an employee’s laptop and become outdated very quickly. If dynamic, it is always up to date as the content comes automatically from the source. Normally this would come from a data governance solution like the Data Cookbook. A business glossary is only valuable if it is engaged with. And if the business glossary has a reputation of being out of date, then it will not be used.  Thus, the need for a dynamic business glossary. A business glossary is not at the database technical level but at the business level (but should link to technical information). It is the business language of the organization which reflects how you use language in the context of your specific organization. You need to educate your staff about the business glossary.  It should be part of the onboarding process of new employees. They need to know how to access and how to request changes.

What should be in a dynamic business glossary? We broke it down for specific entries and for the entire business glossary.

For each dynamic business glossary entry:

  • Term – do not forget acronyms, must be unique and specific. Start date is bad. Term start date is better. Should not be database terminology and should be data system agnostic.
  • Synonym(s) or Common Name(s) – what else do people know this element by, is there an alternate phrasing? Or an acronym for it
  • Definition – usually this is just a few sentences
  • Source where information came from - even if a footnote
  • Links to other entries if appropriate – these are related terms that broaden or narrow the term’s meaning
  • Category of entry - used to find related entries easily (classification, tags),  someone will need to determine the various categories and subcategories for the business glossary, maybe there are entries that are general for the organization and those that are for a specific department or functional group
  • Subcategory of entry if one exists
  • Date of last revision
  • Links to other documents if appropriate - such as data policies
  • Time context – if this definition is time context specific
  • Owner of the term – who can make changes to this definition (such as a specific department or functional group)

    Of course, some of this information can be in your data governance solution, like the Data Cookbook, but does not have to be displayed on the screen.

For entire business glossary page:

  • Purpose of business glossary such as “This business glossary contents information designed to improve organization understanding and the use of data”
  • Person who is responsible for the business glossary in general (not specific entries) - should not be owned by IT, include the email address of this person
  • Method on how to make requests for new entries or make changes to existing entries – routed to general owner,  you want folks to easily request new entries and request changes to make the business glossary better
  • Disclaimer - something like “While every effort is made to ensure the accuracy of the information in this business glossary, we have the right to make changes at any time without prior notice. “

    Make sure that you have a search capability by term, category and subcategory.

Create business glossary definitions as needed for new data requests. This way the dynamic business glossary contains the latest desired information. You want to incrementally build and manage your business glossary. Go live with it when you have a minimal amount of content to make it beneficial.

If you would like additional information (recorded webinars, blog posts and videos) regarding business glossaries then check out this blog post. We hope that this blog post makes you review your current business glossary and how it is presented to data consumers. Look at making it dynamic by putting it into a data governance solution like the Data Cookbook. You want your data consumers to be more data literate and a way to do that is to have an up-to-date business glossary that is easy to access.

IData has a solution, the Data Cookbook, that can aid the employees and the organization in its data governance, data intelligence, data stewardship and data quality initiatives. IData also has experts that can assist with data governance, reporting, integration and other technology services on an as needed basis. Feel free to contact us and let us know how we can assist.

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Photo Credit: StockSnap_P77QU8Z14G_lightning_dynamicbusinessglossary_BP #B1219

Jim Walery
About the Author

Jim Walery is a marketing professional who has been providing marketing services to technology companies for over 20 years and specifically those in higher education since 2010. Jim assists in getting the word out about the community via a variety of channels. Jim is knowledgeable in social media, blogging, collateral creation and website content. He is Inbound Marketing certified by HubSpot. Jim holds a B.A. from University of California, Irvine and a M.A. from Webster University. Jim can be reached at jwalery[at]

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