A glossary describes the essential terms that are important to a business domain. They are used to provide the stakeholders with a shared understanding of domain terminologies.
A glossary is a list of terms in a specific domain with descriptions for those terms and their common synonyms. A list of terms and accepted descriptions provide a common language that can be used to communicate and trade ideas with the stakeholders. The glossary has to be structured and easily available to all the stakeholders.
A term is included in the glossary if one of the following conditions are met:
- The term is distinctive to a domain.
- There are numerous definitions for the term.
- The definition insinuated is not that of the term’s common use.
- There is a logical chance of a misinterpretation .
The creation of a glossary should take place in the early stages of a project in order to help with understanding and knowledge transfer. A single point of contact (SPOC) should be identified, they would be in charge of the maintenance and distribution of the glossary throughout the initiative.
Organizations that manage glossaries often find other uses for the information and are able to reuse the glossary for future initiatives.
The following elements must be included when creating a glossary:
- The description should be clear and brief.
- Any acronyms should be clearly stated if they are to be used in a definition.
- The stakeholders should have easy access to the glossary.
- Any updates to the glossary should be restricted to specific stakeholders.
A glossary has both its strength and limitations, which include:
• A glossary provides a common understanding of the business domain and better communication among all the stakeholders.
• Documenting the definitions as part of the organization’s documentation provides promotes consistency.
• It clarifies the writing and maintenance of other business analysis information including requirements, business rules, and change strategy.
• A glossary requires the owner to execute timely maintenance or else it would become obsolete and may be ignored by the stakeholders.
• It may be taxing for different stakeholders to agree on a single definition for a term.