If you work with Microsoft for any length of time, it doesn’t take long to realise that we all talk in acronyms. For example, a partner might meet up with their PAM to write a PSP about BI and then bring in a PTA to discuss training about SSAS. To make things worse, not everyone uses the same acronyms to mean the same things. If you’re a virtualisation specialist and you’re talking about a VM, you’re probably referring to a virtual machine. However, a telephone-based account manager, talking about a VM, is more likely to be talking about a voicemail.

Some of the acronyms used are recognised in the industry. For example, lots of different companies might talk about ECM to mean Enterprise Content Management. Other acronyms are the names of products or services, such as SSRS standing for SQL Server Reporting Services. Some are abbreviations of job titles or departments. I work as a PTA in SMS&P. Then you get some acronyms that refer to Microsoft terms, processes or practices, such as BPIO standing for Business Productivity Infrastructure Optimisation.

It gets complicated very quickly. If you’re new to working with Microsoft, it can sound like people are talking a foreign language. Even now, after I’ve been with Microsoft for over two years, I’ll sometimes hear an acronym that I haven’t come across before, or a familiar collection of letters being used to stand for something new.

So how do you cope? One way is to ask the person what they mean, but occasionally people get so used to the acronym that they can’t remember what the letters stand for anymore. Another way, is to make use of MAD. In this case, the acronym stands for the Microsoft Abbreviation Dictionary. This is a collection of acronyms and abbreviations maintained by Resource IT. You can use this as a resource to translate our acronyms. If you come across an acronym that’s not in there, you can contribute it to help prevent someone else being confused.