Six Reasons Business Glossary Management Is Crucial to Data Governance

by Zak Cole       • October 18, 2018

A business glossary is crucial to any data governance strategy, yet it is often overlooked.

Consider this – no one likes unpleasant surprises, especially in business. So when it comes to objectively understanding what’s happening from the top of the sales funnel to the bottom line of finance, everyone wants – and needs – to trust the data they have.

That’s why you can’t underestimate the importance of a business glossary. Sometimes the business folks say IT or marketing speaks a different language. Or in the case of mergers and acquisitions, different companies call the same thing something else.

A business glossary solves this complexity by creating a common business vocabulary. Regardless of the industry you’re in or the type of data initiative you’re undertaking, the ability for an organization to have a unified, common language is a key component of data governance, ensuring you can trust your data.

Are we speaking the same language?

How can two reports show different results for the same region? A quick analysis of invoices will likely reveal that some of the data fed into the report wasn’t based on a clear understanding of business terms.

Business Glossary Management is Crucial to Data Governance

In such embarrassing scenarios, a business glossary and its ongoing management has obvious significance. And with the complexity of today’s business environment, organizations need the right solution to make sense out of their data and govern it properly.

Here are six reasons a business glossary is vital to data governance:

  1. Bridging the gap between Business & IT

A sound data governance initiative bridges the gap between the business and IT. By understanding the underlying metadata associated with business terms and the associated data lineage, a business glossary helps bridge this gap to deliver greater value to the organization.

  1. Integrated search

The biggest appeal of business glossary management is that it helps establish relationships between business terms to drive data governance across the entire organization. A good business glossary should provide an integrated search feature that can find context-specific results, such as business terms, definitions, technical metadata, KPIs and process areas.

  1. The ability to capture business terms and all associated artifacts

What good is a business term if it can’t be associated with other business terms and KPIs? Capturing relationships between business terms as well as between technical and business entities is essential in today’s regulatory and compliance-conscious environment. A business glossary defines the relationship between the business terms and their underlying metadata for faster analysis and enhanced decision-making.

  1. Integrated project management and workflow

When the business and cross-functional teams operate in silos, users start defining business terms according to their own preferences rather than following standard policies and best practices. To be effective, a business glossary should enable a collaborative workflow management and approval process so stakeholders have visibility with established data governance roles and responsibilities. With this ability, business glossary users can provide input during the entire data definition process prior to publication.

  1. The ability to publish business terms

Successful businesses not only capture business terms and their definitions, they also publish them so that the business-at-large can access it. Business glossary users, who are typically members of the data governance team, should be assigned roles for creating, editing, approving and publishing business glossary content. A workflow feature will show which users are assigned which roles, including those with publishing permissions.

After initial publication, business glossary content can be revised and republished on an ongoing basis, based on the needs of your enterprise.

  1. End-to-end traceability

Capturing business terms and establishing relationships are key to glossary management. However, it is far from a complete solution without traceability. A good business glossary can help generate enterprise-level traceability in the form of mind maps or tabular reports to the business community once relationships have been established.

Business Glossary, the Heart of Data Governance

With a business glossary at the heart of your regulatory compliance and data governance initiatives, you can help break down organizational and technical silos for data visibility, context, control and collaboration across domains. It ensures that you can trust your data.

Plus, you can unify the people, processes and systems that manage and protect data through consistent exchange, understanding and processing to increase quality and trust.

By building a glossary of business terms in taxonomies with synonyms, acronyms and relationships, and publishing approved standards and prioritizing them, you can map data in all its forms to the central catalog of data elements.

That answers the vital question of “where is our data?” Then you can understand who and what is using your data to ensure adherence to usage standards and rules.

Solving the Enterprise Data Dilemma

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  • Buck Rogers
    As Winston Churchill said - "The problems with the USA and England is we are separated barrier of a common language." My suggestion is we stay with English and avoid using initials like EMS, I&O, ITSM, AND PAAS. Acronyms like that are BS and thus fail to communicate - way too obtuse and esoteric.

  • Richard Halter
    This is really true in today's market. If you are in Retail then OMG.ORG/Retail has a massive set of data models which contain somewhere between 15,000 and 20,000 attributes with definitions covering retail. This common data definitions and relationships are imperative when dealing with the integration problem caused by retailers buying and selling companies. The data model was built in Erwin.

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