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Business these days is never simple. Take for example educational institutions, who occupy a unique position in a rapidly changing world. The pace of change and growth of the information age means that huge amounts of data are constantly flowing through universities. Complexity needs to be addressed before this information can be leveraged productively. How can this be done?

A business glossary is essential for managing complexity and making sense of your data. A business glossary is a collection of comprehensively defined business terms, explained in clear language that everyone can understand. By defining terms and processes within higher education institutions, the overall picture of information under management becomes clearer. From a position of certainty, decisions can be made on a sound basis, and individuals, departments and teams across the university will have easy access to the significance of specific terms. This allows the organization to account for all the different areas of the institution, by unifying the understanding of information in the glossary, eliminating ambiguity.

In today’s world, it is clear why you can’t be a data-driven organisation without a connection between your technical data assets and business knowledge. But for any data to be useful to the business, it must first be accurate. In systems that are only growing ever more disparate and complex, there is a need for centralised understanding and collaboration around data. Not every tool can form the connective fabric required for data-driven collaboration, or effectively measure accuracy of data.

For universities with large amounts of active and evolving data to keep pace with change and use their data to improve their position in a competitive education market, they need to adopt the best available technology.

A business glossary in a University helps to:

  • Combat complexity of the multi-cloud and global education sphere by unifying all definitions, policies, metrics, rules, processes, workflows and more

  • Increase confidence in the meaning of data by standardizing terms and definitions

  • Show where terms are used and the data collections these terms and definitions correspond to.

  • Align data with the rest of the data products

  • Easily learn about data without access request problems

  • Smoothly onboard and orient the new staff within the campus

  • Correctly interpret the data in the university

A good business glossary enables a university to keep the data live and active while still remaining stable. Consider a practical example of this in action, such as changing the Student Record System. Here, if a change is made to say, how the term ‘Last Name’ is implemented with respect to student email addresses, downstream impacts will be heavy. For instance, it may change how the contact details of students are arranged in different lists and such. If a business glossary was implemented prior to the change, it could be made while keeping the business definition of ‘Last Name’ stable. Though surnames may appear in different columns and so on, the business meaning of them will always be known and easily accessible. Data consistency is created, even when the underlying physical landscape changes.

Since any misconception will lead to confusion not only in the way data is stored, but will also be reflected in key metrics as well, a single source of truth is required for the organization. With a business glossary, all data is simplified and aligned within the university, from the total number of students to what an “Australian student” means. Your people and departments can all speak the same language.

The terms and definitions for the business glossary in universities are created and approved by a steward based on their expert knowledge and experience. Configuring a successful glossary means:

  • Developing a common understanding of and an agreement upon definitions of terms as part of the glossary development process

  • Explaining university processes

  • Clarifying university “lingo” for newly onboarded staff

  • Preparing a reference point for current employees using reports

  • Standardizing and maintain the common definitions university-wise and campus-wise

  • Designing a set of information that will improve the data understanding and its usage within the university

How this process of development can be managed is a key component of the journey to getting data-driven. A working group from various divisions and offices in the university needs to be established to monitor and coordinate the steps. First proposing the definition of the terms, then consulting with the wider team in order to agree upon the same definition. After an agreement is struck, documentation takes place, encoding the major steps in creating a unified business glossary in the organization. Ultimately, the business glossary improves an organization’s efficiency. By creating a shared business language, collaboration across departments within a business becomes harmonious. Employees are enabled to perform their work functions without the need to locate the information they need as it is readily available with a search.

It should be noted that creating a business glossary is a continuous process that requires time, effort and consistency as new terms and definitions are added and the existing ones are refined. That’s where automation comes in.

Alex can import existing business glossary terms and immediately enable collaboration and enrichment through automated workflows. Data processes become visible and easily trackable, with notifications, subscriptions and saved searches built-in. This way, even the most complicated processes can be made highly transparent and repeatable. The glossary is fully configurable to allow different teams and users to favourite and subscribe to assets they use regularly. This improves consistency immediately, eliminating conflicting definitions and use of data within reports both internal and to the regulator. To learn more about how Alex Solutions can make your university simpler and more efficient, reach out to our expert team and receive a free, personalized demonstration.

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