99 of the Best Business Acronyms Explained » Mind Tools Blog
99 Business Acronyms You Need to Know

99 of the Best Business Acronyms Explained

August 14, 2017

© GettyImages/nndanko

Chances are that we all know our OMGs from our LOLs by now. But there are hundreds of acronyms out there that we could be using to make our lives and our jobs that little bit easier. They range from the weird and wonderful, to the highly technical and professional.

So, if you’re left scratching your head by a colleague’s request for a CRAAP analysis, or someone has asked you to complete a QA report by the EOD, and you have no idea what they mean… fear not!

In this blog we’ll look at 99 acronyms, starting with those most likely to crop up day-to-day, through specialist sector-based ones, to a final section revealing some of the quirkier abbreviations available.

General Acronyms

You’ve likely already heard some of these around the office, but perhaps you’re not quite as “acronym-savvy” as some of your colleagues. So, here’s a quick guide to keep you “in the loop”:

1. IAM: In a meeting.

2. LET: Leaving early today.

3. LMK: Let me know.

4. OOO: Out of office.

5. OT: Off topic.

6. POC: Point of contact.

7. NRN: No reply necessary.

8. NSFW: This could come in handy the next time you want to share the latest viral video. It might well be the most hilarious one you’ve seen in ages, but is it work-friendly? If it’s not, then use NWR, “Not work related,” or even NSFW, “Not safe for work!

9. BTW: By the way.

10. TL;DR: You know what it’s like. You receive a report or email that seems to go on for pages and pages, and you just don’t have the time. In this case, you may well use, “Too long; didn’t read.”

11. WFH: Working from home.

12. WIIFM: If you’re thinking of investing in a new venture, you might well ask yourself, “What’s in it for me?”

13. JGI: If you frequently turn to your browser to solve those small but annoying little questions that pop up in the day, you’ll likely say, “Just Google it.”

14. BID: Break it down.

15. OTP: On the phone.

16. TYT: Take your time.

17. WOM: Word of mouth.

18. COB or COP: Close of business or close of play.

19. EOD: Similar to COB, EOD means “end of day.”

Business Acronyms

There are hundreds of abbreviations to describe specific business tools or terms that can aid decision making, creativity and problem solving in the workplace. In this section, we’ll cover some of the most popular:

20. POSDCORB: An early management model to help you cover every admin angle. It stands for Planning, Organizing, Staffing, Directing, Coordinating, Reporting, and Budgeting.

21. CRAAP: No, I’m not just being rude, CRAAP is a well-known and well-used way to help people to critically evaluate information. It stands for Currency, Relevance, Authority, Accuracy, and Purpose.

22. SMART: A goal-setting tool which stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time bound – or a few variations of that!

23. SCAMPER: You might like to use this tool next time you host a brainstorming session. SCAMPER helps you to generate ideas for new products by asking questions about existing products focusing on seven key areas – Substitute, Combine, Adapt, Modify, Put to another use, Eliminate, and Reverse.

24. DILO: If you’re concerned about how well you or your team are using your time, why not try DILO (Day In the Life Of) analysis to track and note down what’s actually being done each day.

25. GROW: The GROW Model can help you to structure coaching sessions according to Goal, current Reality, Options (or Obstacles), and Will (or Way forward).

26. OSKAR: Another popular coaching model, OSKAR is a solutions-focused framework designed to address performance or behavioral problems. It stands for Outcome, Scale, Know-how, Affirm + Action, and Review.

27. MBO: Management by Objectives aims to align employees’ objectives with the organization’s wider strategic goals.

28. VUCA: First coined by the U.S. Army College, this term describes the unfamiliar global environment post-9/11. It is used in the business world to reflect the turbulent forces of change since the global financial collapse of 2008. VUCA stands for Volatile, Uncertain, Complex and Ambiguous.

29. SWOT: This ever-popular tool assesses business or personal Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats.

30. SOAR: This is a strategic planning tool that combines hard data with a wide consultation of people’s ideas and dreams. It stands for Strengths, Opportunities, Aspirations, and Results.

31. PEST: Another popular analytical tool. PEST helps you to identify the “big picture” opportunities and threats affecting your organization by assessing the Political, Economic, Socio-cultural, and Technological changes in your environment.

32. VRIO: Evaluate the potential and effectiveness of your organization’s underlying resources by questioning each one’s Value, Rarity, Inimitability, and Organization.

33. OGSM: Organize and deliver your vision according to your Objective, Goal, Strategies, and Measures.

34. VAK: A model that classifies people’s preferred method of learning into three main categories – Visual, Auditory and Kinesthetic.

35. MBWA: This popular tool helps managers to be available to their teams, out on the “shop floor.” It stands for Management by Wandering Around.

Finance Acronyms

Your CFO (chief financial officer) keeps asking for the P&L statement and wants to know what the ROI was for your organization’s latest acquisition. Don’t know what he’s on about? Worry no more. These handy financial acronyms will help you to make “cents” (sorry) of it all:

36. ACCT: Account.

37. BS: I know what you’re thinking. But, no, in accounting this, very innocently, refers to Balance Sheet. So, beware the context in which you use it!

38. CR: Credit.

39. DR: Debit. (Be aware that in other areas of business this term can also stand for Disaster Recovery.)

40. EPS: Earnings per share. This refers to the amount of earnings allocated to each outstanding share of an organization’s common stock.

41. FIFO: First in, first out. This is a term used for managing inventory, and means that the cost of the oldest inventory items is counted as sold first, even if this is not physically the case.

42. LIFO: Last in, first out. Another term used in inventory management. LIFO assumes that the most recent inventory items are the ones sold first.

43. IPO: Initial public offering.

44. EBIT: Earnings before interest and tax. This is often used as an indicator of a company’s profitability, and may also be referred as “operating earnings,” “operating profit,” “profit before interest and taxes (PBIT),” or “operating income.”

45. ROA: Return on assets. This measure is often used to analyze profitability relative to assets.

46. ROCE: Return on capital employed. ROCE is a financial ratio that tells you what profits or returns a business has made on the capital available to it (in other words, how efficiently it uses its capital).

47. ROE: Return on equity. ROE measures a company’s profitability from the money that shareholders have invested in it.>

48. ROI: Return on investment – the gains you’ve made relative to what you’ve put in.

49. ROC/ROIC: Return on capital/Return on invested capital. This is a ratio used to assess the profitability of a company after taking into account the initial amount of capital that will need to be invested in it. It is often used by companies to assess the attractiveness of an investment or acquisition opportunity.

50. P&L: Profit and loss. A P&L statement (also known as an income statement) is the financial balance sheet used by companies to summarize their revenues, costs and expenses during a specific period of time.

51. CAPEX: Capital expenditure. CAPEX refers to the funds used by an organization to acquire or upgrade physical assets, such as buildings or equipment.

52. CAGR: Compound annual growth rate. This measures return on investment over a certain period of time (usually years) and provides a constant rate of return for that period.

Technology Acronyms

Sometimes technical terminology can be bewildering. It’s like a different language… in fact, in some cases, it is! So, here’s some of the abbreviations you’ll most likely hear, to help get you up to “code”:

53. API: Application programming interface. This is a set of definitions, protocols and tools for building application software.

54. HTML: Hypertext Markup Language. This refers to the standardized system used for tagging text files to define page format, font, color, graphic, and hyperlink effects.

55. XML: eXtensible Markup Language. XML is a markup language too but, unlike HTML, it is designed to store and transport information. XML-based formats have become the default for many office productivity tools, including Microsoft Office and Apple iWork. It is also often used for the interchange of data over the internet.

56. HTTP: Hypertext Transfer Protocol, the foundation of data communication for the World Wide Web. It’s essentially a set of rules for transferring files. So, the next time you open a web page, remember that you are indirectly using HTTP – in fact, if you’re reading this blog, you’re using it right now!

57. IP: Internet protocol.

58. OS: Operating system.

59. UI: User interface.

60. UX: User experience design (also known as UXD, UED or XD).

61. VPN: Virtual Private Network.

62. IaaS: Infrastructure as a service. This is where hardware is provided by an external provider and managed for you.

63. SaaS: Software as a service. You may use this if you license software on a subscription, but it is managed by an external provider.

64. PaaS: Platform as a service. A platform is provided by a third-party vendor that allows customers to develop, run and manage applications without them having to build and maintain the platform infrastructure themselves.

65. WYSIWYG (pronounced “wiz-ee-wig”): What you see is what you get. This term is often used in tech circles to describe a program that allows a developer to see what the end result will look like while the interface or document is being developed.

66. SDLC: Systems development life cycle. This acronym is used to describe the planning, creating, testing, and deployment process of an information system.

67. AI: Artificial intelligence.

68. KPI: Key performance indicator.

69. RPA: Robotic process automation. We should all be aware of this term if current predictions are correct and we’re set to be replaced by robots! RPA is the type of software that mimics repetitive, routine tasks, but much more quickly, accurately and tirelessly than a human (so watch out!).

Marketing and Sales Acronyms

Marketing and sales love an acronym or two. So, next time you attend a meeting, prepare yourself with this handy list of popular abbreviations:

70. AIDA: This model is often used in marketing and advertising to describe or direct the stages that a consumer may go through when first becoming aware of a product or brand. It stands for Attention, Interest, Desire, and Action. You can apply it yourself when planning any communication.

71. B2B: Business-to-business.

72. B2C: Business-to-consumer.

73. SEO: Search engine optimization.

74. SEM: Search engine marketing.

75. BR: Bounce rate, or the percentage of visitors who visit a website and then navigate away from it immediately.

76. CPC: Cost per click.

77. CTR: Click-through rate – the ratio of users who click on a specific link compared to the total number of users who view a page, email or online advertisement.

78. CRM: Customer relationship management.

79. PPC: Pay-per-click.

80. SERP: Search engine results page.

81. UV: Unique visitors.

82. CRO: Conversion rate optimization. Increasing the percentage of page visitors who go on to become paying customers.

83. KEI: Keyword effectiveness index. This metric refers to the most effective keyword phrases and terms that you can use to optimize your webpage.

84. LPO: Landing page optimization.

85. UGC: User-generated content.

And Just For Fun…

Lastly, here are some abbreviations that you might want to play with to lighten the tone:

86. DMC: Deep and meaningful conversation.

87. IRL: In real life.

88. WEG: Wicked evil grin.

89. DAE: Does anyone else…?

90. SMH: Shaking my head.

91. ELI5: Explain like I’m 5 (years old).

92. GTR: Getting ready.

93. FUTAB: Feet up, take a break.

94. FTFY: Fixed that for you.

95. TIFU: Today I fudged up.

96. EAK: Eating at keyboard.

97. HAND: Have a nice day.

98. KISS: Keep it simple, stupid.

And, finally, I’ll leave you with my personal favorite…

99. DFTBA: Don’t forget to be awesome!

What’s your favorite abbreviation? And, what’s the worst one you’ve heard? Share your acronym agony or advice below…


4 thoughts on “99 of the Best Business Acronyms Explained

  1. Chris Andersen wrote:

    What does the Acronym/Abbreviation IT stand for? I read an article titled “The Next Airline IT Outage Could Happen at Any Time-Are You Prepared?”
    What does the “IT” Stand for???

    1. Midgie Thompson wrote:

      Hi Chris, Thanks for the question. I understand the acronym here of ‘IT’ as Information Technology which could be anything related to their computer systems (hardware and software).

  2. Scout Waverly wrote:

    Despite the piece’s title, very few of the examples here are acronyms; they’re generic abbreviations. An acronym spells a new, pronounceable word, like NASA and MOMA.

    1. Midgie Thompson wrote:

      Thanks Scount for your comment and you are correct. I was curious by the differences of the word acronym so went and looked up the definition. According to the Merriam-Webster online dictionary, an acronym is “a word formed from the initial letter or letters of each of the successive parts or major parts of a compound term”. So, the acronyms become pronounceable words. Yet, they also add that the definition of acronym is “an abbreviation formed from initial letters.”

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