Workplace Acronyms: The Bane of My Existence

I work for a company that does TPL for numerous state Medicaid departments and CMS.

For the first five years of my TPL career, I was assigned to SGS. Then my Charlotte office was closed and all its functions were moved to Irving, TX. Fortunately for me, I was allowed to keep my job and work remotely. The only thing that really changed was my department. I was moved from SGS over to CAV.

About a year into my association with CAV, however, things went south. Not with my coworkers, mind you. I had a great working relationship with them. No, our problem was the Louisiana project. It was a stand alone project tied exclusively to Microsoft technology when I ran it in Charlotte. So I used a lot of VBA, ADO, and T-SQL to make sure we satisfied all of the project’s business requirements. But for some reason, the IT guys in Irving couldn’t duplicate my process in a DB2 environment. We were constantly having problems with the MCO, MSE, and PIER files. The PIER file was the worst. We could never get it right. I was told the problem had to do with REFDB, but nobody could pin it down. All we could do was make note of the problems in TRACK+ and hope some BA figured it out. Finally, the state of Louisiana had a enough and refused to renew our contract.

By all rights, I should have been unemployed once we lost the Louisiana contract. But the gods of good fortune smiled upon me and I got picked up by the midwest region of SGS for an open PM position. Yes, it was out of CAV and back into SGS. But SGS would not welcome me with another TPL project to toy with my sangfroid. No, I was going to learn all about RAC.

My new RAC PD has been great. I can’t say a single unflattering thing about her. She’s smart, industrious, and possesses outstanding management skills. The rest of my RAC coworkers are equally as competent and a joy to work with.

But RAC certainly has its problems. ZONE data is not dependable. And no matter how many times we go over the DS and BP process flows, HDI keeps generating letters for the wrong claims. For instance, if a claim is in appeal, it can’t be included in a FURE mailing. And if we don’t get HDI to stay on top of the PCALLOUTS, we’ll have a lot of ‘splaining to do for the client.

And today was one of those days. On most Thursdays, I have one or two PAs to process for the client. Today I had over two dozen. And then my supervisor IM’d me to remind me that the PRDs were due and I had until Friday to complete my online DEFECTS training. And, then, to make things even worse, the CI files were super late and I had to rip through my QA process like a banshee just to get the files on MOMENTUM by 5 pm.

Good, lord! No one ever said RAC was easy.

Final Thoughts

I’ve been working for my employer for almost nine years now. And I don’t think I’ve ever made it through a meeting without feeling like a complete idiot. With all the acronyms being bandied about, I don’t know what the hell people are talking about half the time. And of course I don’t say anything. I’d rather remain ignorant than expose my colossal ignorance. (Do behavioral psychologists have a name for that trait?)

The only thing that makes my acronym-happy workplace tolerable right now is that it won’t be my acronym-happy workplace for much longer. I truly respect and admire the people I work with. Saying goodbye to them is going to be really, really tough. But saying goodbye to those freakin’ acronyms is going to be a breeze. FIRE here I come!

Okay, groovy freedomists, that’s all I got. What say you? Is your workplace driving you crazy with acronyms?

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20 Comments

  1. Giggles. Since I was doing tax this year, most of my workplace jargon was form numbers: 1040, 1065, K-1, “Please sign the 8879”, “did you get any 1095-As from an ACA policy?” “You aren’t paying income tax but you do owe SE tax due to your 1099 income that came in on Schedule C.”

    • Mr. Groovy

      LOL! I understand the concept. Acronyms are just shorthand to make communication easier. But at some point, if there are enough of them, communication becomes a joke. We have these weekly conference calls in which corporate tries to get us familiar with the various aspects of our company. And about five minutes into these conference calls my eyes glaze over. So many acronyms are flying around, I don’t know what anyone is taking about. Hang in there, Emily. The IT world and the tax world got to have the most acronym-laden language on earth.

    • Mr. Groovy

      Hey, Brian. I forgot all about the PTO acronym. Yes, PTO is often the cure to acronym overload. Good luck with the new job. I’m sure you’ll be slinging around your new workplace acronyms in no time. Thanks for stopping by.

  2. Good stuff! Between the use of acronyms at every level – federal government, my particular organization and career field (engineering/information technology), and the specific program I support – there are an infinite number of acronyms. And of course, occasionally an acronym is used for multiple references. You have to know the context in which it is being used to fully understand the meaning and follow a conversation. I always tell people that are new to the organization, particularly if they come from outside government, you’ll spend half your time just getting up to speed on the acronyms and abbreviations just to be able to follow in-house conversations.

    • Mr. Groovy

      Hey James, it’s good to hear I’m not the only one who has to battle with workplace jargon. In my previous job, which was in government, the acronyms weren’t nearly as bad. IT is a different animal. I’ve been working with my outfit for nearly nine years and my head is still spinning. Quick aside, I asked my current supervisor what one acronym meant (PRD) and she didn’t know. She knows it pertains to documentation of our process but she doesn’t know what it stands for. Thanks for sharing, James. I always appreciate it.

  3. Miss Jaime

    I once worked for an insurance company and they used acronyms all the time. An STD was short-term disability. So basically when I talked to another department if I needed info on a claim, “I need info on Mr. Smith’s STD.” lol.

    Your company reminds me of that job. Although in our case they gave out handouts of what all the acronyms meant and then there was a sharepoint for any additional info we needed so it wasn’t too bad.

    • Mr. Groovy

      Nice, Jaime. I guess if you’re going to have an STD, a short-term disability is preferable to what we normally associate with that acronym. And I like the sharepoint that was set up by your former employer to combat acronym overload. My workplace hasn’t reached that degree of sophistication yet. We just assume that everyone knows what the acronyms mean. Perhaps I’ll create an acronym guide and place it on our sharepoint. It could be my final contribution to the 9-to-5 world before I ride off into glorious retirement.

    • Mr. Groovy

      LOL! You’re a wise man, Mr. FS. I guess part of being an adult is enduring the pain and stupidity of acronym-mania. But thankfully, acronym-mania is mostly confined to the workplace. Once Mrs. Groovy and I surrender our laptops, we’ll be free from such nonsense. Thanks for stopping by, my friend. Hope FIRE is treating you well.

  4. I hate acronyms. Especially because I am a temp hired by an agency, farmed out to a subcontractor to work on a government project for X and Y. The subcontractor people never told me who was named what – let alone what their roles were. So confusing.

    • Mr. Groovy

      Hey, ZJ. They are confusing. And it’s one thing to use them as a handy shorthand. It’s another to use them as a way to flaunt one’s knowledge and superiority. The former can be excused. The latter is annoying as hell. Thanks for stopping by, ZJ. Appreciate your sharing.

  5. Ah, the alphabet soup game. I have a 3 page Word doc at work that I give to new hires, interns, contractors, and vendors – just so they can translate our ridiculous vernacular. The sad part is that it all makes sense to me after so many years.

    • Mr. Groovy

      Excellent work-around to the ridiculous workplace vernacular that we all face. Wish I would have thought of it years ago. Thanks for sharing, Ty. I’m starting my acronym doc today.

  6. Argh! You’re giving me PTSD!
    What about when there are multiple meanings for a single acronym within a field?
    PE can mean physical exam, pulmonary embolus, premature ejaculation, phenylephrine, pseudoephedrine, and more. Heaven help us.

    • Mr. Groovy

      Hey, Julie. I forgot about the medical field. My field, like most others, is baby stuff compared to yours. It must be maddening! Ty, one of the commenters before you, mentioned how he put together a Word document to help new hires, interns, contractors, and vendors get up to speed with his workplace acronyms. I don’t suppose this would work for you. Ty’s acronym cheat-sheet was three pages. Yours would be a small book. I feel your pain, Julie. Thanks for reminding me that my acronym angst could be worse.

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