We know－a glossary needs no introduction. It's hardly revolutionary. But in all seriousness, we find a glossary one of the most underrated tools in an increasingly complex world.
Glossaries beyond textbooks
I was working at a fully-remote company for a few months when I noticed something new.
It was common practice, for every project I'd worked on or companies I'd worked at, to have a knowledge base. A knowledge base was critical to keeping information available to all who needed it. With a properly maintained knowledge base, an employee leaving did not mean that their niche knowledge was lost.
A key person exiting did not mean that critical projects or accounts came to a standstill. This knowledge base could be anywhere: a folder on a shared local network, a simple wiki kept with the product code on GitHub, something more full-featured on Confluence.
At this company, I saw that a few of my colleagues had used their personal profile page on Confluence to link to a personal glossary, where they had kept track of company jargon. I eventually found that most teams maintained a glossary of terms they commonly used, like ARR (annual recurring revenue), EPD (engineering-product-design), or UUID (universally unique identifier).
This meant that if we were ever in a meeting where people threw out jargon, we had a searcheable resource to go educate yourself. It was meant to help everyone understand each other's ideas, by creating a shared language. I'd previously mostly found glossaries at the end of overpriced student textbooks. Interfacing between lots of teams with different specialisations, I found myself using glossaries more than ever.
Why an Information Technology (IT) Glossary?
Our IT Glossary is where we describe what we mean when we use certain words. Often the words we use are in common usage. Those words are not described the Glossary. Sometimes we use words in a slightly different way from common usage. Those differences we describe in the Glossary.
You may also find words that are still relatively uncommon, but gaining ground as workplaces rely more on virtual collaboration.
We aim to avoid unnecessary use of technical domain-specific words, to keep things simple. But when avoiding a word creates more confusion instead of simplicity, we define it in the Glossary.