Overcoming Common Business Analysis Challenges Related to Glossaries


Overcoming Common Business Analysis Challenges

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Have you ever imagined a situation wherein your vocabulary is missing all of a sudden? What would happen if words weren’t there? Or our vocabulary shrank like ‘Honey I Shrunk the Kids’?

Next to silence, words are a very important part of our conversations :-). When it comes to Business Analysis, there are many challenges around definitions. The project Glossary should contain all key business terms. It is such a straight forward thing but we may assume those things. We may put a little less emphasis on creating a rich project Glossary. Let us zoom in a bit into the common challenges of glossaries and also discuss how to overcome them.

Created at the end

In this situation, the rush of a new initiative takes obvious priority. When teams actually start seeing gaps in their understanding of key business terms, then the creation of a glossary starts to take place. Up to this point, we were under the impression that everyone was aware of the terms. Still, the exact definition of some of the terms may even have large gaps in understanding. There is a time spent (wasted?) in helping each other understand the same meaning of those words and terms. Even more, there could be some defects logged owing to a lack of defined terms.

This is where a business analyst’s responsibility lies. In the initial stages of a project itself, glossary creation should start. The glossary can be part of a requirements doc or a separate document. It does not have to be perfect right in the beginning; you can start with the terms you think are important. This will facilitate knowledge sharing and a common understanding across various teams.

Not easily accessible to stakeholders

Here, the glossary is present but it is not accessible to every stakeholder. The exact location of it is not communicated to all stakeholders. New stakeholders join the project and they do not know where to access the glossary. Sometimes there may even be different versions of a glossary and the terms are different in each. Chances are that during regular calls with teams, this topic never came up. Hence, stakeholders do not know where to find it.

We can restore the situation by communicating details about the glossary to stakeholders. It is always helpful to involve stakeholders and encourage feedback. If there is something missing, you get the opportunity to correct the terms.

Not regularly maintained

We assume that domain-specific or business terms may not change often, but they are never static. Business keeps changing, new regulations are added, industry trends evolve. New terms will continue to be created. Some irrelevant terms will have to be removed as well. In short, we have to keep up with the latest industry definitions.

Regard a glossary exactly as any business analysis deliverable that we maintain. There needs to be a single POC (point of contact) who maintains it. The POC updates it regularly and seeks ongoing feedback from stakeholders as the terms evolve.


Swati PitreAuthor: Swati Pitre, CBAP®, is Sr. Business Analyst 

Sr. Business Analyst, Consultant and Trainer with 20+ years of industry experience across various domains and geographies. Recognized by clients as a valued member of business and technology teams, with a proven track record of delivering artifacts and solutions of high quality. Recognized by participants as a highly effective and hands-on trainer and coach. Self-starter, process-oriented, and creative with unique problem-solving skills.

Her specialities include Process Improvement, BPM, Predictive Analytics, Product Development, Quality, and Governance. She undertakes various training courses such as CBAP®/CCBA®/ECBA® Prep Courses, Comprehensive BA Job oriented Course, Agile BA Course, and several other customized courses.

She is also a public speaker and has completed Level 3 of Effective Coaching Pathway at Toastmasters International. She is a yoga and fitness enthusiast with varied hobbies include reading, writing, art, travelling and music.

LinkedIn: Swati Pitre, CBAP® | LinkedIn


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