Home / Learn / Insights / Glossary


In a recent talk, I asked the audience of about 100 BAs which of them maintained a glossary as part of their work.

About 20 hands went up. 🙁

I was almost embarrassed to even ask the question – it seems so obvious – so the answer was even more of a surprise. So 80% of the audience didn’t think it was important that we all agreed what we were talking about.

If you find a BA of long experience (or a process analyst, or a modeller of any kind) and they will almost certainly have a story of ‘how I looked an idiot because I mis-understood the terms they were using‘.

Mine was many years ago, running a workshop for a debt factoring company. The task was to create some use cases for a new admin system, and quite frankly, the first morning was bad. There were lots of puzzled looks in the meeting, even though these were a  crowd of smart business experts. So I fell back on the trusted approach – if technique A doesn’t work, try B. And my default ‘Plan B’ technique is ‘create a domain model’ : really just an enhanced glossary. When we got to the bit about “Customer/Client” – which I had been using interchangeably all morning-  and I asked ‘about how many customers/clients do you have‘, I was stunned by the reply – “5000 clients, and 5M customers‘ (maybe it was the other way round – was too stunned to think straight)


Customer” = “Client” – right ?


In their world, they are as different and up & down. Lesson learned.

When writing use cases, or requirements, or anything which uses business language, create at least a glossary, and if possible, a domain model at the same time.

And make the glossary a managed knowledge asset like all the others. Make sure to record where definitions came from (see Provenance) and don’t let people randomly change definitions just because they think they have a better idea. And include it in documents, with references, so everyone gets used to the idea of a common set of terms.

eaDocX looks at the terms in a document, and generates a glossary consisting of only the terms used in that document. Stops the glossary from becoming over-sized.

More Insights

Webinar - How to successfully scale up your EA modelling team

30 June 2020

The key issues and decisions to consider when scaling up your modelling team, and how to avoid the common pitfalls.

Learn More

Different documents for Different People

16 November 2018

How to tailor information to each user - making it as easy as possible for everyone to engage with your work, project or deliverables.

Learn More

Document or Model View?

21 May 2018

Use your documents as an alternative to Model Views.

Learn More

Color your Knowledge

25 October 2017

A while ago a client asked me to look at some process diagrams which had been created for them by a well-known consultancy.

Learn More

Context - Where are we?

20 October 2017

I’m occasionally asked “What’s the most re-usable bit of a model – where should I start?“.

Learn More

Hard and Soft

11 October 2017

No, not about Brexit… More about styles of Business Analyst.

Learn More

Printing connectors

18 October 2016

Creating documents that start with the connections between the things in your model

Learn More

Model curation techniques for EA

6 September 2016

How cleaning, navigating and validating your EA model makes sharing and collaborating much more effective.

Learn More

Branch/Merge with EA13

11 August 2016

One of the most common requests we see from new EA users is: "Why can’t I do branch/merge with EA?

Learn More

7 Steps to Agile Documents

8 September 2015

Or “How documents can HELP your project, not stop it"

Learn More

Compare pricing and features

Choose the eaDocX edition that’s right for you and your team

Compare Pricing

Download a free trial

Take a free, no obligation, 30-day trial of eaDocX. Discover for yourself why it’s the world’s best-selling Enterprise Architect extension.