Business Glossary


Business Glossary – The Importance of Understanding Business Terms

Business Glossary vs. Data Dictionary is a concept that is expanding rapidly in the field of business studies and information technology. Both are essential tools for the modern businessman who needs a quick, easy reference tool for all aspects of a business. However, they have differences that should be examined closely by the business owner or manager.

Let’s examine each and then draw a comparison of their strengths and weaknesses.

Business Glossary vs. Data Dictionary

Both business glossaries are valuable reference tools for laypeople and serious business people. They can be used to generate company-wide policies, regulations, metrics, objectives, company data management systems, business terms, company titles, company logos, company colors, and even company slogans.

  • Data dictionaries (also called database reference manuals) provide data definition or description from texts or other data sources.
  • Business glossaries (which also use text files, source documents, articles, and web pages as sources) provide a direct definition or interpretation from company information manuals.

Both are important for the organization to comply with legal and regulatory requirements.

Data dictionaries are organized to form a meaningful bibliography.

They contain both standard and non-standard citations and are searchable using keywords. Their strength lies in the fact that they are comprehensive and constantly updated, being frequently cross-referenced, supporting multiple scholarly disciplines (e.g., Sociology, Law, Genetics, Medicine), and covering a wide range of topics.

On the other hand, business glossaries often only cover key technological terms and have no research citations, making them less credible when providing any detail on technical terms.

Data dictionaries allow users to quickly find and identify data sets and the knowledge needed to interpret them.

In terms of metadata, a business glossary is a repository of commonly used business terminology that can be searched yet does not require users to know the full definition of each word. This ensures both efficiency and quality when searching for a particular piece of data.

A glossary is usually divided into two types: business glossaries and enterprise data offices. A business glossary is an extensive collection of commonly used words and concepts intended to provide easy identification and retrieval. Enterprises often maintain a number of glossaries to assist in decision-making. On the other hand, a data dictionary provides metadata for selected items, allowing users to search for and identify them more easily. The metadata helps users determine the values for a number of selected business terms/term/concepts.

A data dictionary usually contains a hierarchy of categories, subcategories, keywords, and synonyms.

Keywords and key phrases are typically used interchangeably in a company’s data structure. Synonyms are those words or phrases that have a similar meaning but are used differently in the specific industry or setting. They allow users to gain a better understanding of the types of data that are relevant to their management needs. In addition, business glossaries allow managers to decide what terms to use in a particular setting and how to describe the concepts to improve communication and improve productivity.

The information contained in a glossary is usually presented in an authoritative source, such as a technical write-up or white paper released by an enterprise. When data is presented in an authoritative source, users can be assured that data quality rules have been followed because the information originates from an authoritative source. Administrators or managers may also refer to other documents that outline the data quality rules of the organization. However, these sources cannot serve as reliable, authoritative sources since other users will not necessarily consider these documents as authoritative sources.

An authoritative source for data is usually a subset of the normal users, such as managers, IT staff, or business analysts.

This subset may include users who are involved in the execution of a process or project. When they do not possess technical skills, the information provided by the Business Glossary may help them perform certain tasks more easily, such as determining which files should be synchronized. Another example is when data regarding a newly developed product is being presented to stakeholders.

A business glossary allows these stakeholders to understand the concept behind the newly developed product quickly. Therefore, business glossaries are essential tools, especially in businesses that rely on data frequently.


The Many Uses of a Business Glossary

A business glossary can be described as a compact, user-friendly tool that a business data management system provides to demonstrate that the company has an agreed-upon understanding of key business terms, business concepts, and their interrelationships. The goal behind the creation of a glossary is to provide easy reference for a vast number of potential users of business data management systems. This is important because data management is about expanding the usefulness of the data that an organization already has in order to make its work more manageable.

A business glossary is, therefore, a vital element of good data management software.

Business Glossary Vs. Data Dictionary – What Is It? A business glossary (or data dictionary) is a list of keywords or keyphrases used by a data management application to represent a data element. Therefore, the key to a glossary is a single word or term and not a set of words that are related in any way.

  • For example, a medical transcriptionist would most likely use the words “patient” and “diagnosis” when creating a medical record in a doctor’s office.
  • When that record was stored in a metadata database (which is often part of a business intelligence (BI) system), the medical transcriptionist would create a medical glossary that was comprised of all of the terminologies related to the specific disease or condition.


A metadata is the set of rules that are used to control the collection, storage, retrieval, and use of data or information. All this data is then stored and referenced in multiple locations throughout an organization. These locations are then referenced in the form of metadata or a business glossary.

Business Glossary Vs. Data Dictionary – What Is It? A data dictionary is a list of synonyms, translations, and other word translations for a particular term and/or definition. A business glossary, on the other hand, is a list of technical terms used interchangeably. It contains definitions and synonyms of the terms that are commonly used in the business world.

Technical Terms Glossary

A data dictionary is merely a list of words, usually of a very high volume, that are used commonly in a technical field such as electronics, medicine, etc. However, it is also oftentimes comprised of definitions and synonyms of those same terms and more. As aforementioned, a glossary is simply a list of definitions and/or synonyms. When data is entered into a database or a text-based database, it is then categorized based on the rules defined in a glossary.

There are many different types of business glossaries and dictionaries. However, one of the most common and the most important types are the business metadata database.

Metadata Database

This is the backbone of a glossary; however, glossaries are only one component of a data management program or DMS. There are many different data models and many different formats for data elements; therefore, the data governance program needs to be able to adapt to any format and any data element. However, a glossary alone is extremely difficult to update or to use because one would need to understand every individual word to determine whether it pertains to the data element being discussed. This can make the data governance program nearly impossible to operate when it is first introduced.

Business Glossary/ Dictionary

The purpose of a business glossary or dictionary is to provide meaning to otherwise seemingly random data elements within a database or text-based data management program.

For example, when companies produce press releases about a new product or service, it will want to include specific keywords to help users better understand the release.

However, without a dictionary, the company would have no way of determining which words to use in the release. On the other hand, a business dictionary helps data management programs that use them to understand the meaning behind words that may otherwise be confusing or ambiguous. Therefore, a business dictionary is necessary for such purposes.

Data Dictionary/ Glossary

A data dictionary is another type of glossary and dictionary that pertains to the field name or terminology of a particular field. For example, if an oil and gas company wanted to create a technical data dictionary for its field, it would require the meaning of each word in the field name as well as the synonym for that field name. Without such a data dictionary, a company would be unable to determine which words to use in the release without taking all possible forms of synonyms and derivatives of that particular word.

On the other hand, a data dictionary is useful for such purposes because it can help data management programs and software to understand the meaning of words within a data model. In many cases, such a dictionary will also contain synonyms for the terms that make up the data model so that it can make sense of the term in the context of the data model. As data dictionaries are increasingly used throughout companies, they serve a variety of purposes within a company.

Make Your Business Glossary More Serviceable and Effective

A business glossary is the compilation of an agreed-upon list of terminologies applied in the business world. The glossaries supply a central and consistent repository for describing various terms and identifying where and how they are utilized in the business. The definitions give context to the various terms, and the associated term relationships provide additional information about usage patterns.

  • They are instrumental in understanding the business world.
  • They are an essential and effective tool for communication between employees and management and between companies and their customers.

There are many different types of business glossaries.

The most common ones are the ERP glossaries and the glossaries of key terms used in supply chain management (SCM). These provide data regarding warehouse labeling, material management, purchasing, inventory control, financial systems, human resources, logistics, and more. All of these are necessary for a data governance approach.

Data governance is the process of controlling, managing, and protecting sensitive information to ensure compliance with the various laws, regulations, and ethical standards applicable in various industries.

An essential function of any business glossary of terms is to provide data that enables intelligent decisions about any particular topic. For example, if there were no warehouse labeling systems, then the process of resourcing could be exceedingly tedious. It is also very likely that many companies would become mired in a very detailed level of documentation, especially in complex tasks like resourcing. An automated warehouse label system can eliminate this problem since it is possible to automate the whole process in a matter of minutes.

The business glossary aims to bring the organization to the point of view of its data elements in an organized manner.

This will facilitate better analysis, planning, and future implementation of business strategies. The process tends to give users a good understanding of how different data elements fit into each other and a better understanding of how business units are related. In addition, there is a greater chance for users to create clear business rules and communicate them effectively to other employees.

Some people think that a business glossary aims to teach and explain complicated business terminology. On the contrary, all business glossaries attempt to provide clear, concise definitions of key business terminology and concepts. They just describe them in a way that makes it easy for everyone to understand them. The main objective behind such glossaries is not to teach you complicated business terminology but to help you master the most commonly used terms. They are therefore extremely useful for beginners who need quick tips on how to store information in a clear and easy-to-understand manner.

The purpose of a business glossary, therefore, is not to teach you terminologies but to help you master the most common terms and concepts in your industry.

You must keep in mind, though, that an effective glossary does not aim to fully describe every possible type of business terminology. There are some areas where a generic glossary will not serve. Instead, a glossary with a focus on one or two major business terms is more appropriate. This will make it easier for you to understand the terminologies and their application in your field.

  • For example, it would be very difficult for a beginner to understand the meaning of terms like facility maintenance and depreciation if they were to study the definitions of each term individually.
  • Instead, it would be more productive for them if they studied a few business glossaries that discussed these terms individually and obtained a general idea about the frequency of use of each term.
  • Then, they could apply this knowledge to his own industry.
  • By so doing, they would have a good grounding on the types of terms that he is likely to encounter in his work environment.

So, you see, a business glossary can be more than merely a collection of business terms that you need to memorize. It can be an excellent source of information about how these terms are used and what they mean in practical business settings. Thus, it can make the job of a business professor far less taxing.

Online Glossary