Jargon can make people feel part of a team, they have their own unique terminology which means you’re either part of the gang or not. Three-letter acronyms (TLAs) are such a popular type of jargon for businesses to use.  Starting a new job, piece of work or with a new team, department, company or manager and on top of everything else there’s this new language to navigate and interpret.

What is this jargon?

Everyone seems to be speaking in code, jargon, using TLA’s that you’ve never heard before, may not understand, or you think have a different meaning. An example of this is SME – this could be Small to Medium Enterprise or Subject Matter Expert amongst many more meanings.

Where did TLAs come from?

Three-letter acronyms have been used to improve and assist the memory (mnemonic aids) as far back as the Sinclair ZX81 home computer manual which used and explained TLAs. They have become even more popular with the rapid rise of social media and a fast-paced society that now speaks more and more in code and jargon (and emojis).

Commonly used terminology

It really depends on which TLA’s you commonly use (or not) and can be quite baffling. It can be quite off-putting when everyone in the room understands what’s going on and you don’t, well not all of it. As referenced in ‘Here’s the project – where do I start?’, it’s key for everyone to understand the task in hand. TLAs and terminology need to be understood by everyone.

Try the KISS principle

Clear communication is key. Blue ninja work on the principle ‘there are no stupid questions’ otherwise you may not understand what is happening or think something totally different. Another useful TLA which helps keep things concise and cuts out the waffle is KISS (ok it’s a FLA – Four letter acronym) “Keep It Simple Stupid” or “Keep It Stupid Simple”. This principle works on the premis that systems work best if they are kept simple rather than over-complicate them. Simplicity should be kept in mind throughout the design and documentation phase and complexity avoided.


End-user computing (EUC) – locally developed data processing solutions – can range in complexity. Testing a process to see if it works and it’s written in simplistic terms, or whether it’s as simple as getting someone who hasn’t and possibly won’t be using it so they have no preconceived ideas to review and feedback. If they don’t understand it or it contains too much jargon then it needs refining further, you can apply more rigorous testing such as QA (Quality Assurance), this will keep your audit function happy.

Terminology capture

Consider capturing a terminology list at the beginning of a project and build this up as you go, this will avoid misunderstandings and make things transparent for the people who have been afraid to ask before.

As business process experts we’re here to keep things simple and can help you streamline and improve processes to cut out unnecessary waffle. So what’s your favourite or the most baffling TLA you’ve come across?


Find out more TLA’s you can use in your business in our handy TLA List. 


What TLAs do you commonly use? Add them in the comments below.


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