What Is Business Glossary Management?

Business glossary management is a vital capability for any organization serious about a data-driven strategy.

Data-driven organizations are challenged with making productive use of their vast stores of information across the enterprise. Creating and managing a business glossary with tools like IDERA’s ER/Studio is an effective method of addressing this difficulty and is an essential component of a viable data governance program.

What is a Business Glossary?

A business glossary can be defined as an artifact that defines terms across a business domain, providing an authoritative source for all business operations, including its databases. A business glossary addresses the complexity of using data consistently throughout the multiple departments that make up an organization. Working with a consistent vocabulary concerning enterprise data assets can provide companies with many advantages in competitive markets. 

Difference Between a Business Glossary and a Data Dictionary

The expressions business glossary and data dictionary are sometimes erroneously used interchangeably. Both data dictionaries and business glossaries are valuable for constructively handling information resources. They are, however, two distinct entities that serve different data management goals. Following are some of the differences between data dictionaries and business glossaries.

  • The focus of a data dictionary is physical data assets and there will be a data dictionary for individual data sources. A business glossary focuses on business concepts. Organizations have a single business glossary.
  • The purpose of data dictionaries is to obtain a better understating of data assets and they are owned by information technology (IT) teams. Business glossaries are owned by the business and are used to define a common vocabulary around basic concepts.
  • Data dictionaries are used in database design and data modeling. Business glossaries are used to analyze business requirements and for data governance. 

Once it is constructed, a data dictionary is more stable than a business glossary. As a business environment evolves, modifications to its glossary may also need to be made to reflect changes in the way data is referenced throughout the company

Building a Business Glossary

Building a business glossary is necessarily a collaborative effort that strives to address several issues revolving around corporate data resources. Following are the main objectives behind the glossary’s creation.

  • Creating a common set of definitions and data language that will be used by all employees across the organization
  • Fostering collaboration and better understanding between the business and the IT teams responsible for data management 
  • Identifying and associating business terms with enterprise assets to understand their connections
  • Developing and disseminating a shared set of rules that act as the foundation of a data governance program

Representatives from all areas of an organization must be thoroughly involved in the creation of a company’s business glossary. Eventually, there will have to be decisions made regarding the terms and definitions included in the glossary. These choices will need to be made after considering the input from the appropriate stakeholders from across the enterprise. 

Here are some best practices to keep in mind when creating a business glossary.

  • A thorough approach to gathering the terms used throughout the business is an essential first step in developing a business glossary.
  • Identify conflicts in how words or terms are used and take the opportunity to gain consensus on a single meaning going forward.
  • Create an ongoing plan to keep the glossary updated as the business evolves, technology changes, and new employees join the company.
  • Keep a focus on the processes that use data resources and position the glossary as a means of optimizing operations throughout the enterprise.

Business Glossary Management 

Business glossary management requires maintaining consistency with the same type of collaborative mindset used in the business glossary’s creation. Changes to a business glossary need to be shared among all stakeholders to avoid discrepancies in how data is used in different departments. 

Without the proper level of oversight, a business glossary can quickly lose its value to the organization. An obsolete or unorganized glossary that does not reflect an evolving environment will fail to provide any expected benefits and may lead to substantial communication problems. It is essential to keep everyone in the organization updated on modifications to the glossary.

ER/Studio Enterprise Team Edition is an excellent collaborative solution for business glossary management. The tool offers versatile data modeling capabilities and can be used for activities such as data dictionary standardization and visually documenting data lineage. 

It also includes a business glossary that allows different roles to collaborate; the stewards to manage the terms in the glossaries and data architects to map assets in the data dictionary to those business terms. 

Some of its features that specifically address the creation and management of a business glossary include:

  • A shared model repository, facilitating collaboration;
  • Intelligent interfaces to resolve user conflicts;
  • Agile change and version management functionality;
  • Component sharing and reuse to eliminate redundancy and enforce standards;
  • Team collaboration with activity and discussion streams;
  • Enables the creation of an extensible enterprise glossary.
  • Visualization of relationships across the model to ask those important questions, what data do we have and where is it?

Companies can request a free demo of ER/Studio Enterprise Team Edition. The trial lets a company discover the multiple ways the tool can help manage a business glossary so it remains relevant and provides value to the company.

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