Date posted: 29/09/2020

What does it all mean!?: A glossary of 25 business terms

Have you ever walked into a conversation at work where you’ve had to smile, nod along and pretend you understood what everyone was talking about when really you had no idea? We’ve all been there!

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Whether it’s your first ever job or you’ve been in the workforce for a while, being around office lingo is something that comes with the territory.

Most professionals are guilty of using buzzwords and it’s completely normal to be left wondering sometimes what all those words actually mean.

Jargon may save time explaining lengthier concepts in the moment, but it often creates issues with miscommunication and making someone feel like they are not informed or an outsider. 

To help you feel more confident at work and elevate your office lingo use, we’ve put together a list of commonly-used business terms and an explanation of what they mean: 

1. Action items

Action items are tasks on a to-do list that must be prioritised following a conversation or meeting.

The manager asked the team to prioritise completing the project action items ahead of meeting with the client. 

2. Bandwidth

Bandwidth refers to the amount of time or capacity an individual has to work on a task.

When asked whether she had the bandwidth to take over a project one of her co-workers was working on, she let her manager know that she would finish off a client call, and set some time aside to work on the project. 

3Bleeding-edge 

Bleeding-edge refers to a new product or service that involves experimental or risky technology.

Did you hear about that new AI accounting solution? It’s amazing bleeding-edge technology!

4. Boil the ocean

To ‘boil the ocean’ refers to an impossibly large task that would be exceedingly difficult for employees to execute due to available resources and budget. 

The team manager made the decision to avoid boiling the ocean with the new project and get the team to focus on achievable outcomes.

5. Bring to the table

To ‘bring to the table’ means to contribute something of benefit to the group.

She was able to bring to the table her experience, skills and ideas when applying for the job. 

6. C-suite 

C-suite refers to an organisation's most senior executives. The C-suite of an organisation includes the chief executive officer (CEO), chief financial officer (CFO), chief operating officer (COO), and chief information officer (CIO), among other executive roles.

The young Chartered Accountant stood in front of the C-suite at the board meeting to deliver his presentation.

7. Circle back 

To ‘circle back’ means to revisit the topic of conversation at a later time.

The manager told the team that he would circle back on his original point at the end of the meeting.

8. Core values 

Core values are the fundamental beliefs of an organisation that influence relationships with customers, stakeholders and partners.The organisation made the decision to hire the young graduate as she was able to demonstrate the organisation’s core values of commitment, curiosity and integrity. 

9. Deck

A deck or ‘slide deck’ refers to the slides of a PowerPoint, Keynote or Prezi presentation that provides an audience with a quick overview of an idea - usually accompanying an oral presentation.

Following the staff meeting, the CEO promised his team that he would share the deck containing information on the company’s vision. 

10. Drill down

To ‘drill down’ means to look at or examine something in detail.

The financial adviser looked to drill down through financial data to provide solutions for growth. 

11. End of day (EOD)

The acronym ‘EOD’ stands for “end of day” and is used to refer to task deadlines that must be achieved by the close of business, usually 5pm.

The manager asked the intern to deliver their work for review by EOD Wednesday.

12. Estimated time of arrival (ETA)  

The acronym ‘ETA’ stands for “estimated time of arrival” and is used to provide an expected time of arrival.  

The client asked for an ETA on when she could expect to receive the final proposal.

13. Going forward

Going forward is a term that is interchangeable with ‘from now on’ and ‘from this point.’ In a business setting, the phrase is commonly used to refer to a change of plans during a project.

The finance team decided that going forward more budget would be allocated to the sales and marketing function. 

14. Heads-up

To give someone the “heads-up” means to make them aware of an upcoming conversation, project or task.

The manager gave his team a heads-up that they would be working on a new project in the near future. 

15. Hit the ground running 

To “hit the ground running” means to immediately start work on a new project or task.As soon as the CEO approved the new idea, the team knew they would need to hit the ground running to execute it on time.

16. No-brainer 

‘No-brainer’ is used to describe something that is very simple to do or understand.

It was a no-brainer for the manager to include Sally in the brainstorm session as her strengths lie in strategic thinking and creativity.

17. Open door policy 

When managers have an ‘open door policy,’ it doesn’t mean their office door is literally open to anyone at any time (always check that it’s a good time to pop in with a question!) but it does mean they encourage open communication with every employee.

The senior leaders of the organisation had an open door policy, so anyone who wanted to bring something up with them, felt comfortable to do so.

18. Ping 

To “ping” means to get in contact with someone - usually quickly - by email, text or instant message. 

The manager asked the team to ping him if they have any questions about the report they are preparing for the client.

19. Please find attached (PFA)

The acronym ‘PFA’ stands for “please find attached” and is used in emails to refer the recipient to the file and/or document attached to the email.PFA the minutes from the last board meeting.

20. Pivot 

In a business setting, pivot refers to a change in strategy in response to a crisis or other change in circumstance.

A smart business model pivot can help struggling companies find opportunities for growth during a crisis. 

21. Scale

To “scale” refers to how an organisation hopes to grow or expand in their operations and finances.

A recent significant growth in clients meant the firm could scale up its operations.

22. Scope

Scope refers to the time and costs required to complete a business project, and is a term typically used in project management.

The stakeholder’s request to add additional time to the project was out of scope.

23. Take it offline

 To “take it offline” is a phrase used when a meeting gets a little off topic, or if a certain topic is of a sensitive nature and requires confidentiality. It conveys that the discussion can be continued at a later point in time.

During the meeting, the CEO asked a manager about team productivity - which was a topic not on the reporting meeting agenda - so the team manager suggested they take it offline. 

24. Value-add

Value-add refers to the extra features a company adds to its products and services before offering them to customers.

The firm decided to offer loyal customers a free consultation as a value-add

25. 360-degree thinking

A 360-degree way of thinking involves taking the time to consider the decision making process from all sides before making a decision - weighing all the potential risks and positive outcomes.

The management team employed a 360-degree thinking approach to planning in order to maximise success for the business.

Familiarise yourself with these commonly-used terms, and you’ll be able to join conversations around the office with ease.

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