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Importance of business glossary in knowledge management-Document360

Importance of business glossary in knowledge management

Category: Knowledge Management

Last updated on Dec 29, 2023

If you have ever been to a group meeting where different teams discuss about important business topics, you might have heard some business terms being used synonymously. For example, the sales department would use the term customer, the marketing department would the term client and the product team would use a term user; You might be wondering whether the terms customer, client, user is the same thing! What are the chances that the definition of those terms be different even though all the departments work for the same organisation?

The reality is different! Each department inside your organisation might use different business terms to refer to something similar but the underlying definitions and assumptions are totally different; The knowledge about these definitions and assumptions are only known to people who work in each department.

Sometimes the data collection and business logic for metrics around similar business terms are entirely different. These things are usually unearthed when an organisation goes through some audit process as part of a compliance project or bad decisions are made by the organisation leading to financial loss. Digital transformation projects can also bring focus on getting the right definitions for business terms.

Thus, the definitions of business terms are very important as it helps organisation to have

    • Shared understanding of common business terms
    • Common definitions
    • Consistent data collection practices
    • Right business logics applied to business metrics
    • Reliable business metrics

Business glossary

Business glossary is a collection of all the business terms used across your organisation. It provides clarity to ambiguous business and technical jargons that are used synonymously across your organisation.

Business glossary provides a shared understanding of a business term across your organisation to ensure that everyone is referring to a same thing. This shared understanding helps everyone in the organisation to understand all business metrics and nuances in data collection for those business metrics. This will lead to improved team collaboration and communication among your organisation in a long-run.

Business glossary also helps your organisation with data and information management. Business glossary helps with your organisation database design and defines rules of relationship among your business terms. Since the business glossary offers unequivocally long-term benefits, the question arises among all the business leaders “where do we catalogue and store this business glossary?”

Knowledge base

Knowledge base is a central repository where all the staff in your organisation have access to. Knowledge base provides a powerful platform to collect and store all your corporate knowledge including strategies, process documentation, projects, programs, software systems, customer service, technical documentation, and so on. Knowledge base is a trusted source of information in your organisation. Thus, it is an ideal platform to catalogue and store all your business glossary terms.

The format in which these business glossary terms are captured can be standardised. These standardisation enables staff to have a consistent approach in cataloguing these business terms and helps with offering training to your new hires about business glossary. All the articles inside your knowledge base can reference business terms in the business glossary.

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Business change management

During organisation’s digital transformation journey, each department/team will go through an enormous change in a way their business operates. This includes introduction of new systems, business processes, and reporting to meet new service level agreements. In these projects, it is very important to capture business change process; more specially all the new and old business terms being used across new systems.

Knowledge base can capture all these new and old business processes along with old and new business terms that are present in the legacy and modern business applications. Thus, a knowledge base can act as a gateway to transition your workforce into modern way of doing business with new business terms.

Mergers and Acquisitions

Mergers and Acquisitions (M&A) happen as part of organisation’s strategy to gain competitive advantage, improve their product offerings, consolidate their product/service portfolio and so on. During mergers of existing organisation with another organisation, the newly formed entity needs to catalog and integrate business glossary of two organisation; This is crucial for consolidating various redundant systems, processes, and customer delivery methods. During M&A, knowledge base that captures business terms helps with smooth transition of your business processes and systems.

Staff training

Staff orientation is essential for helping new hires get a holistic perspective of an organisation. Also, staff are trained continuously as part of the organisational learning and development program. Ensuring right definition of business terms are taught to new hires is important for success of their workforce strategy. As the new hires starts using the right business terms and know how to access it are vital to help staff think about process improvements and data-driven decision making.

The training materials can incorporate business terms and instructors can teach new hires about business process around adding or removing business terms. Specific protocols can be taught to new hires about not using any new business or technology jargons to create ambiguity. Instead, new hires need to use consistent language and vocabulary from business glossary to clearly articulate ideas. New hires can be trained on using a knowledge base platform effectively.

Capabilities of knowledge base platform

To facilitate business glossary, knowledge base platform should provide customisable and ready-to-use business glossary templates to capture all business glossary terms. Knowledge base platforms also provide capabilities to link business terms in all the knowledge base articles.

Furthermore, to eliminate confusion, knowledge base should scan your entire knowledge base articles periodically to pick terms that is not defined in your business glossary. Then it should alert your compliance or governance team about those new terms. Governance team can then proceed with their business process to seek clarity from respective departments/team on those new terms and catalog them in business glossary as required.

In summary, a knowledge base should

  • Provide ready-to-use templates to catalog business terms
  • Provide real-time search to find business terms
  • Scan all articles periodically to check for consistent use of business terms
  • Offer insights into usage of business glossary
  • Support real-time collaboration on business terms

Also, check out our article on Knowledge Management Metrics

Closing remarks

A business glossary ensures organizations speak the same language by clearing up ambiguity in business terminology. A business glossary helps organizations create a shared language so all employees can communicate and collaborate. Organizations should invest in a business to create a knowledge base common understanding around their information. A good knowledge base platform would facilitate the cataloging of business terms in a business glossary and provide ways to share this knowledge with other business applications.

Also Read: What is Tacit Knowledge: Importance, Benefits & Examples

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