5 Reasons You Must Manage Your Glossary (not just create it)

Mark Atkins, Intraversed


Once you’re well underway with your business term glossary build things can easily slow down and falter. This is usually because there’s a mindset that says the glossary is a set-and-forget project, and once you’ve gotten through the first batch of term definitions and the need for a glossary is less urgent, it falls by the wayside.

We want you to rethink this whole approach.

From the very beginning of the glossary build, you need to understand that this is an ongoing activity and, for that reason, it needs to be managed. And managed well.

Glossaries need to be seen as an essential piece of BAU. They are active and dynamic things that businesses should be utilising for the many benefits they can deliver. (If you don’t know what those benefits are, we’ve written about them here and here).

If you’re struggling to see why focused and ongoing management will be necessary or beneficial, or struggling to justify the budget that such management will require, here are our top 5 reasons why you must manage your glossary (and not just create it).

Reason #1: The benefits of a glossary can only be achieved and maintained when it’s well managed.

Your glossary can deliver some very appealing benefits (again, to review them read this previous article). But to do so, the content of your glossary needs to be trustworthy. That means, it must be current and accurate.

Ensuring this currency and accuracy requires accountability and monitoring, including reporting on the monitoring activity. Active management that involves a hierarchy of ownership and responsibility for term definitions, issue resolution and life cycle management is the only way to create the reliability your glossary needs.

Reason #2: Effective glossary management develops a culture that values information quality (which is vital to business success)

A significant element of good glossary management is reporting glossary activity (including issue management) to senior leaders. They should have an active interest in seeing IM (of which your glossary is a central part) becoming BAU throughout the organisation because it will ensure they have the reliable information on which to base their business decisions.

When such reporting takes place, it builds a normalcy and expectation around glossary use and the information quality improvement that a well-managed glossary can deliver. This, in short, is the hallmark of a culture that values information quality and that’s the kind of culture that, in turn, supports business success at all levels.

Reason #3: A well-managed glossary attracts users, which builds a larger quantity of high-quality information

When a glossary is well managed its content is useful and valuable to staff. This will naturally attract users. The more users you have engaging with your glossary, the more information quality will improve, thus making the glossary even more valuable.

It works much like a social media platform. Early adopters are always there first, but the greater the value being offered by the glossary (and active management improves value) the more staff will want to use it. Eventually you reach a tipping point, after which engagement with the glossary becomes a normal practice for most staff. And the more staff are using it, the better your chance at finding information issues and resolving them.

Reason #4: A well-managed glossary can highlight otherwise unseen profit leakage and cost-saving opportunities

When your glossary engagement is high, and you’ve linked your glossary to a business information artefact register, it allows staff across functional areas to find and review details about information that exists and is in use in other areas, as well as what proposed information use changes are being considered or are needed.

Broadening this knowledge beyond functional areas opens up opportunities for leveraging the information available in other areas, tighten up potential mis-use of information, joint purchasing of mutually beneficial information or tools, and much more. Visibility is key and a glossary can deliver that when well managed.

Reason #5: Innovation around information use/creation/quality improvement is made possible

A well-managed glossary underpins the development of a business culture that values information quality. When you have such a culture, supported by a reliable glossary, staff have a strong platform from which to generate creative and innovative information possibilities.

The innovation can include new uses for information, new reporting insights, new data and information combinations, new ways to improve quality, accuracy or usability of information. But perhaps most valuably, a well-managed glossary can allow cross-functional area involvement in information quality issue resolution, which can open up new possibilities unattainable in a siloed organisation where the visibility, accountability, capability and manageability of information are not effectively delivered.

Is such a glossary really possible?

Most definitely. We spend our working lives helping businesses create them.

But it does take commitment, will and investment.

It takes a team of engaged information managers, happy to acknowledge their responsibilities and commit to being engaged. And like any effective group, there must be a dedicated coordinator to ensure active engagement and forward progress.

And it takes senior leaders who care enough about the quality of information they use to make business decisions to support the creation and maintenance of such a glossary.

It will not happen without these.

It also helps to have great glossary software. That means, a platform that can support great glossary management: reporting, issues management, connection to information artefacts and community discussion & engagement.

What’s your opinion?

Have you seen a glossary managed well and delivering these kinds of benefits?
Do you think it’s even possible?
Join our conversation over on LinkedIn and let us know about that experience.

Join the discussion on LinkedIn
Mark Atkins, Intraversed

Mark Atkins

Mark is a co-founder & Chief Development Officer at Intraversed, helping organisations establish the Intralign Ecosystem, an award winning information management & governance methodology, to achieve reliable information, stable tech spend & greater IT project success.

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