Shared Understanding Tip #2: Consistent Terminology

Cartoon: three doors with labels Customer, Client, and User.

Continuing the topic of getting to shared understanding of business requirement, here is the next tip: use consistent terminology.

Define the terms, publish and share the definitions in a glossary or business dictionary.

Then, promote the correct terms. As a business analyst, you are in the right position to enforce consistency – provided you practice what you preach!

A simple term like customer can generate many interpretations, with consequences. Misunderstandings can lead to defects, unexpected behaviour, even privacy breaches. A set of business rules may be required to support fundamental definitions.

Do I get customer treatment if I stopped buying your products two years ago?

Is each contact name of a business client a customer?

If you send me an offer every six months, but I never respond, do you count me as a customer?

Do I need to be a client to choose a preferred language of communication?

If I request a quote, then change my legal name and request another quote, am I the same customer?

What if I sold my VIP business – does the new owner get preferred treatment that I used to get, or will I keep my VIP client status?

You may need to ask a few questions to extract the right definition – consider this a good investment.


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