Accurity Platform

Essential Business Glossary Resources to Help You Resolve Data Challenges

Graham Needham
April 18, 2023 | 11.5 min read
The key to any data governance initiative or resolving a data challenge is to get organized and start planning. At Accurity, we believe this should start from the business perspective by defining business terms and getting your organization’s terminology into shape. And the key tool to help you with that is a business glossary.

What is a business glossary?

One definition of a business glossary is simply a list of business terms, their definitions, and relations. This might start as disparate notes or Excel documents spread across multiple departments. But the more you use it and the bigger it becomes, basic lists, documents, and spreadsheets won’t cut it.

Two questions immediately come to mind: why have a business glossary, and why is a business glossary important?

A harmonized business glossary helps get all departments on the same page with documented business terminology that is clear and consistent. Considerations may also need to be made for linking it to data sources, managing metadata, creating and managing reports, analytics and regulatory requirements, visualizing data lineage, and assessing and maintaining data quality.

A proper business glossary needs to be a centralized, company-wide single source of truth that is accessible and understandable to all areas of an organization, including both technical and business users. It must be integral to your data governance efforts and play nicely with other tools in your technology stack.

Thus, the reasons why to have a business glossary become clear very quickly. We’ll guide you through some of these reasons in this blog post and provide access to additional resources that you will find useful.

How to build a business glossary and what should a business glossary contain

When building a business glossary, your goal will be to describe each business term and capture its relations in a way to make it specific enough that it avoids potential misinterpretations or misusages. You also should consider that the definition of a business term can vary according to many factors, including the industry your organization is involved in and the different departments that will use the glossary.

If you are starting with a basic glossary, consider whether your software is easy to use so that it will enable you to get started quickly and that it is also scalable as you grow. You may need to add functionality easily and quickly or scale up the number of business terms and users.

For more complex enterprise environments, you might consider developing a business data model (BDM) first. It can be especially useful when driven by legal and regulatory directives such as BCBS 239, GDPR, CCPA, HIPAA, PCI-DSS, or the EU Data Governance Act.

The difference between a business glossary and a data catalog

Regarding where you should start in your initiative, the business glossary vs data catalog debate is common as there are two ways of building data governance.

A data catalog is a complete, easy-to-share, organized inventory of company data assets, including data structures and elements, across all layers of your architecture. So, while a business glossary helps ensure that everyone in the organization is speaking the same language when it comes to data, a data catalog helps you navigate through the complex data landscape of your organization.

The business glossary should focus on business concepts and definitions rather than datasets. The business glossary, hence its name, is driven by business, not the IT department. There should be only one business glossary in an organization, but there could be many different datasets and sources. This way, a business glossary can significantly enhance your data governance efforts.

You will need to be able to connect your business glossary to your data sources. Connecting your business glossary to your data sources is essential – the Accurity Business glossary and data catalog solution includes both capabilities in one package.

As you progress, you can incorporate other capabilities, such as data profiling, technical data mappings, data lineage, business rules, and data quality – all available in our Accurity data intelligence platform.

The benefits of a business glossary

In today's fast-paced business environment, bringing order to chaos, creating synergies between teams and technologies, and ensuring accurate reporting is critical for success. However, these initiatives can often come at a significant cost. Fortunately, there are solutions that can help streamline these processes and reduce costs. For example, a business glossary and data catalog can address many of the challenges businesses face. Here are five costly business problems that can be easily fixed with a business glossary and data catalog:

  1. Lack of clarity and consistency in reporting.

  2. Difficulty in integrating data after mergers and acquisitions.

  3. Onboarding and training new staff on company-specific terminology.

  4. Inefficient data discovery and navigation.

  5. Inability to track reporting data over time.

There are many advantages to a business glossary, and we list some of them in our deep dive into the benefits of using a business glossary blog post.

Efficiency and unlocking the value in your data are drivers for any business. A business glossary and data catalog are great starting points to enable these opportunities. Data lineage can help accelerate business efficiency with its ability to provide traceability. Knowing the journey your data takes from its creation through all its transformations accelerates impact analysis on processes and datasets.

What special capabilities can Accurity bring you over and above the good stuff mentioned above? Depending on your chosen business plan, we offer some really useful features:

  • Browser dictionary – this add-on extension can scan any web application/page for business terms and let you instantly see the approved definition as stored in your business glossary, so the data consumers in your organization do not need to look elsewhere or wonder what they are looking at. It is available to download for Google Chrome or Microsoft Edge.

  • Business term suggestions – use our artificial intelligence (AI) technologies to save time and effort by getting automated suggestions of mappings between business terms and the data catalog, which you can accept or reject based on a probability score.

  • Application integrationAccurity utilizes the open REST API for enterprise application integration (EAI) to allow connectivity to your existing data stack.

  • Version tracking – you can compare versions of object details and see what has been changed, removed, or added over time, along with who made the changes.

Of course, there is much more to our business glossary, and you can find the complete overview of its features on our website. We continuously plan to add new features based on our public development roadmap.

Examples of a business glossary being used in the real world

Accurity is trusted and used by many companies around the world. Here are just some of the use cases documented in our customer stories and blog posts:

Who is responsible for the business glossary

A specific group should be responsible for the business glossary and include business stakeholders. This group, often under the umbrella of data governance, usually includes data stewards and is headed up by a Chief Data Officer (CDO). Although they will create the business glossary, add new terms, and enrich existing terms, their reach will be across the whole organization with many more parties involved, including the C-suite.

At this point, valuing your overall data governance initiative is important. To help with this and discover more about the roles involved, we have put together a data governance essentials whitepaper for you – it’s a free download.

The Accurity Business glossary and data catalog solution

The Accurity Business glossary and data catalog solution offers an easy-to-use business glossary with the Starter plan that is free forever. With its sample data and guided tours, our business glossary and data catalog offers you a template to get started quickly and easily.

  • Document your business terms with ease.

  • Know your data catalog – capture your metadata with a few clicks.

  • Create business lineage fast with our intuitive UX.

  • Import and enrich your metadata from data sources like a pro.

  • Attain consolidated reporting and regulatory compliance for your organization.

  • Enable monetization of your data.

No credit card is required, and enhanced features from paid business plans are enabled for 14 days. The solution is offered in the cloud, and we also offer other deployment models based on your preferred environment.

Get your in-depth look at Accurity’s business glossary solution

Let our product experts show you how the Accurity Business glossary and data catalog solution can help you with your data challenge/data governance initiative. Get your free demo now.

Graham Needham
Content Editor