Key Principles and Thoughts of Writing Good Business Glossary Definitions

Key Principles and Thoughts of Writing Good Business Glossary Definitions

StockSnap_SAWF3FHIR0_womantyping_gooddefinitions_BPIn a recent webinar we covered tips for writing great business glossary definitions. Click here to access the recording. In this blog post we thought we would cover some principles and thoughts on what it means to write good (or great) business glossary definitions.

They are:

  • Understand the difference between a business glossary and the data model (or data catalog).
  • Name different things with different names. You need to eliminate definition collisions by having different names for different things. Do not have only one active student glossary definition when you might need multiple such as “active student – federal reporting” and “active student – state reporting”.
  • Link functional and technical definitions. Remember that you can have multiple technical definitions for a functional definition.
  • Document data quality attributes for the definition.
  • Document valid values (reference data).
  • Document functional areas and owners for the definition.
  • Avoid the paralysis with allowing for context.
  • Link between terms that you can. Get a better understanding of your data when you see how terms (definitions) relate.
  • Allow yourself to be wrong. Do not wait for perfection or total agreement on a definition. But do not allow yourself to be non-specific. Have the definition be documented (better than never documenting at all). But it is OK to improve over time. Data governance is about change.
  • Use a solution, like the Data Cookbook, where during definition creation there is a workflow and approval done by a data steward. It is OK to have people say that they do not agree with a definition. Might mean you need a new definition or must change the existing one. When you have a solution that makes definitions accessible and transparent your definitions will approve, and your understanding of your data will improve.
  • Build the right definitions when they are needed. Import any existing dictionaries and import definitions from the Data Cookbook community. Identify the critical reports and document the reports (specifications) to create the associated data definitions. Continue to create definitions as needed for data requests or new specifications.

Hope that these principles and thoughts help your organization in its definition writing.  IData has a solution, the Data Cookbook, that can aid the employees and the organization in its data governance, 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_SAWF3FHIR0_womantyping_gooddefinitions_BP #B1121

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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