Cookies or Biscuits?
The Power of a Common Business Language
Presentation by Intraversed at DAMA Australia Event
ESTIMATED READING TIME: 2 MINUTES
With today’s data explosion, we are drowning in data but starving for information. The onslaught of cheap processing power and data storage has enabled a significant increase in the data stored within an organisation. Unfortunately, in many cases that data cannot provide business intelligence (or information) because there is no clear translation from the data to our information needs or vice versa.
We have all heard about, or more painfully experienced, the time-consuming activity of reconciling and then explaining conflicting numbers in various reports. Our misunderstanding of what we think are simple questions like "How many ‘employees' do we have?” or "What is our ‘FTE’ count?”, often cause repeated manual processes to reconcile the numbers for decision makers. If we don’t understand, or agree on, what we are counting, how can we make appropriate decisions, e.g., how can we determine the impact of a hiring freeze if we don’t know that we are actually understaffed? Costly challenges like these, result from the fact that the terms and metrics used to value and monitor our business, have company-specific meanings, division-specific interpretations, country-level nuances, and department-driven variations. The “employee count” that finance need to forecast payroll tax and superannuation payments is certainly different than the “employee count” that operations needs for workforce planning.
These challenges can be solved by the creation of a common business language and implementation of a business glossary, enabling everyone in the organisation, across divisions and departments, to understand explicitly what a business term means and the business rules required for its use. The value of a common business language is not limited to clear meaning of company metrics. Standardising business language also enables transparency, accountability and collaboration.
“What I think you heard, is not what you think I said”.