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Information Technology Definitions for Common Terms - What They Really Mean

  • Agile development: Used to describe anything that’s not traditional.

  • Alignment: After 30 years, people still aren’t sure what it means.

  • Client/customer: Are business people IT’s clients or its customers? Depends on whom you ask.

  • Domain: There are business domains, architectural domains, application domains. Without a modifier, you’re lost.

  • Functional expertise: In contracts, it usually means a certain level of experience. But expertise? Who are we kidding?

  • Maturity assessment: A complicated name for benchmarking.

  • Onboarding: A fancy word for training. We think.

  • Proactive: Tackling something that didn’t tackle you first.

  • Process: Procedures, suggestions, best practices, what you’d better do — you figure it out.

  • Proprietary: Technically, a company’s intellectual property, but this term is used to describe any off-the-shelf software that was glued together just for that organization.

  • Rightsizing: Getting rid of people.

  • Seamless/integrated/transparent systems/solutions: Your guess is as good as ours.

  • Service-oriented architecture (SOA): Does that mean everything else we’re doing isn’t service-oriented?

  • Socialize: Check with other people and groups to see what they think, as in “Let’s socialize that idea.” Outside IT, it means to get together with friends.

  • Solution: Whatever it is, it begs the question, “What’s my problem?”

  • Sourcing: It describes who is taking your job.

  • Strategic: Systems that keep the company in business or systems I work with.

  • Sysadmin and sysprog: Shorthand for “systems administrator” and “systems programmer.” Examples of just how lazy developers can be.

  • Team player: The embodiment of a loaded term. It generally has to do with getting on board — but not with onboarding.

  • Turnkey: Plug it in, and it will run; alternatively, whatever we’re going to build for you.

  • Value-added: Meaningless. Everything today is said to add value to something somewhere.

  • Virtualization: Not physically there, but, well, it is physically there. So are we doing it with mirrors?