Differences in interpretations: ever thought about a glossary?

I started preparations to have a house built just less than two years ago. As a novice in this field an interesting but sometimes also rather difficult process. Of course, as the commissioner I’d like to know exactly what happens when and how. It’s quite fascinating to see how often I find out that I did not understand something I thought I did. Funny enough, most of the time this is due to the terminology used. Soon enough assumptions turn out to be false.

 

Differences in interpretation

For example, I asked the plasterer to prepare the walls for finishing. He apparently had a completely different view on ‘ready for finishing’. Bottom line: a tough discussion. The key is to keep asking until you understand the true meaning of certain terminology. For me now is too late to compile a glossary, but in hindsight it wouldn’t have been a bad idea at all. At least it would have prevented some tough discussions. And I should have known better…

Specific terminology is not unique to the world of construction. Every organisation uses terminology and abbreviations, specific to their industry. I run into projects daily that almost run aground because of a lack of conceptual framework. A natural consequence of the diversity in roles and backgrounds. A ‘contract’ e.g. would mean something different for the accounting department than it would for the purchasing department.

 

World Book diCTionary

We see the use of glossaries increase in governmental tenders for example. Unfortunately these often only hold general terms, not the internal jargon. Describing this jargon is important, as demonstrated by a recent publication about the parliamentary committee entrusted with research into failing governmental ICT projects. A language expert was commissioned to clarify the tech-jargon for the committee. How about a World Book dICTionary?

I challenge you to use a glossary more often. It makes life easier and it facilities quick changes. The end results will approach expectations to a higher degree. And all will turn out well for my house, I’m sure, even if it could have been done quicker.

Written by: Maarten Witvliet
Sales manager

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