Maybe the steel industry isn’t the only place where TLAs (three-letter acronyms) and FLAs (four-letter acronyms) flourish, but it definitely is an enthusiastic participant in their creation and usage. So much so that any newcomer can easily get lost in presentations where their meaning is taken as a given. When Megan Prince was a summer student working on the wiki, she attended one of the monthly briefs, and had to ask me what LTAs (Lost Time Accidents) were.

Some of the older acronyms, e.g. the names for mainframe systems like CADS, TEMS or ASDA have already lost their exact translation in the mists of time, and people just use the names to signify complaints, maintenance and delays systems without worrying what the exact translation of the acronym stands for. I even compiled a list of acronyms as they were known to me and added them to the wiki, where I believe it was one of the more frequently visited pages.

Still, there’s only so many ways that you can rearrange 26 letters into 3-letter combinations, which could lead to possible confusion when they stood for totally different things. One example of this possible confusion is TCS for Tata Consultancy Services, CTS for Customer Technical Services and SCT for Supply Chain Transformation. A pity I no longer have the list at my disposal, because I could dig up more of this confusing mess, where a given acronym had two totally different and independent meanings.

I suppose that, as long as you’re part of the information flow, you tend to keep up with the acronyms that apply to your area of activity, but even now, less than a year after I left the workplace and without the assistance of any crib notes, there’s more and more of them that slip my mind. In the meantime new acronyms are probably being devised (e.g. SCC or SAP Competency Centre became BICC or Business Intelligence Competency Centre), and it probably wouldn’t take long before I needed a translator to help me through any future presentations.

Not that this prospect is all that likely, and becomes less likely with every passing day.


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