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What Is a Business Glossary?

A business glossary is a collection of business terms and definitions, documented as part of a data governance program. Business glossaries provide a standardized internal vocabulary concerning data resources within an organization. With everybody working from the same definitions and from the same page, organizations can make effective use of enterprise data resources.

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Business Glossary Objectives

The objective of a business glossary is to create an authoritative repository of data terms used throughout an enterprise. Business glossaries provide consistency, enabling all parties to use data resources in the same way and avoid misinterpretations resulting from data silos and disparate departments. Organizations that create a reliable business glossary enable effective and efficient use of their information assets.

Benefits of Creating a Business Glossary

Creating a business glossary provides a company with multiple benefits that include:

  • Enhancing data governance by increasing trust in enterprise data and aligning assets with business objectives;
  • Providing a framework for understanding a company’s terminology and business concepts;
  • Identifying how elements of the data vocabulary vary across different departments;
  • Maximizing the ability to use data effectively throughout an enterprise;
  • Reducing the risk of data that is misused due to inconsistent definitions or misunderstanding of terms;
  • Enabling everyone in the organization to search for and use data to further business objectives.

With a viable business glossary in place, all departments use the same terms to describe data resources. This can only help coordinate operations and streamline internal communication. Facilitating internal communication often results in smoother operations and enhanced customer satisfaction which contributes to a competitive advantage. Organizations that use their data productively are poised to achieve an advantage over less productive rivals. 

Business Glossary vs. Data Dictionary

The terms business glossary and data dictionary define two different types of documentation serving different purposes for data-driven enterprises.

A business glossary is designed to be used by everyone in an organization, both technical and non-technical individuals. It’s used to define business terms that pertain to a wide audience.

A data dictionary is more concerned with technical terms that may be focused on a specific domain within an organization. It describes and defines data terms and is meant to be used by a more technical audience such as data scientists or the information technology (IT) department.

The following table outlines the differences between these two important tools for organizing data resources.

Business Glossary Data Dictionary
Focus Business terms and concepts Physical data assets
Objective Defining a common data vocabulary and understanding basic business concepts Understanding data resources and databases
Key artifact A list of business terms and definitions A list of datasets, tables, fields, and columns
Scope One business glossary for an organization A separate data dictionary for each data source
Application  Data governance Data modeling, database design
Owner The business The business’s IT department

There will only be one business glossary for each organization. The number of data dictionaries is dependent on how many data sources are in scope.

Building a Business Glossary

Business glossary management is an important, business-critical task. When building a business glossary, teams need to approach its creation methodically and include the following key steps:

  • Identify critical data assets to seed the glossary. The number of business terms can be overwhelming and trying to address everything at once can cripple the initiative before it gets rolling. 
  • Identify data owners and connect them to data resources. The individuals or teams that create and use data resources need to be involved in the creation of the glossary.
  • Build standardized operating procedures around the identified data resources. This is a collaborative exercise that requires the input of data owners and users who understand the intricacies of the assets and can communicate these details to the overall organization. 
  • Promote the use of the glossary throughout the business. A business glossary needs to be used by everyone in the organization for it to be effective and attain its objectives.
  • Learn More: Top Five Benefits of Business Glossary Management

Business Glossary Automation Tools

IDERA’s data modeling solutions provide organizations with the tools necessary to build and manage business glossaries. The ER/Studio family of data modeling applications helps discover data assets and offers the collaborative functionality required to create an effective glossary. 

Now, building and managing business glossaries is easier than ever, thanks to purpose-built integration between ER/Studio and Collibra. 

By combining the technologies of ER/Studio and Collibra, organizations can automatically exchange and pool the knowledge of data architects and data stewards. This enables data architects and stewards to synchronize business terms from ER/Studio with the business glossary in Collibra. 

Synchronizing, rather than manually repopulating information saves organizations time by eliminating tedious manual tasks. But more importantly, it promotes greater accuracy and consistency, ensuring the business has a thorough account of business terms and definitions based on one source of truth. 

Through the ER/Studio-Collibra integration …

  • Data stewards can upload logical and physical models from ER/Studio to Collibra, whereby ER/Studio adds mappings to business terms.
  • Data architects can send business terms from ER/Studio to Collibra, allowing data stewards to elaborate on and approve these business terms. In turn, data architects can revise the business glossary in ER/Studio with additions, updates, and deletions. 
  • Data stewards can synchronize business terms in Collibra to ER/Studio’s repository with Collibra acting as the master. That allows data architects to use these business terms in ER/Studio to classify logical and physical modeling artifacts.

By integrating ER/Studio with Collibra, organizations can connect data architecture with data governance to form a united data ecosystem across the entire organization. 

Learn more about the ER/Studio-Collibra integration.

ER/Studio is also available in the following versions:

ER/Studio Business Architect

Business Architect maps the relationships between the people, processes, and data resources that comprise the raw materials necessary for building a business glossary. Teams can create conceptual data models that capture business objectives important to the organization.

ER/Studio Data Architect

ER/Studio Data Architect is used to create logical and physical data models to be used when creating the policies and procedures necessary in a business glossary. Consistency between data models can be implemented by enforcing naming standards, making it easier to use the models across an enterprise.

Try ER/Studio Data Architect for Free!

ER/Studio Enterprise Edition

ER/Studio Enterprise Edition is a collaborative tool that uses a shared repository to ensure consistency across data models and coordinate updates. Enterprise Edition can be used to build an enterprise-wide business glossary to give organizations a common data vocabulary to further their business objectives.

Request a free demo of ER/Studio Enterprise Edition!

Organizations creating a business glossary need to use proper tools to be successful. ER/Studio furnishes the collaborative functionality teams need to develop an effective business glossary.

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