Definitions of Common Business Acronyms

What does ERP stand for? What does ROI mean? If you've ever found yourself curious about these questions, then you've come to the right place. IFS has put together a list of common business and industry acronyms along with their definition. Read up to get up to speed with the industry!



Aviation and Defense
This industry comprises companies that develop and manufacture defense equipment, such as vehicles and weapon systems, for the military market consisting primarily of government defense departments and armed forces (national or otherwise); and the civil aviation sector which includes airlines, airport operations and MRO services; and the in-service support and asset market with companies operating under Performance-Based Logistics, Fleet Management and Contractor Logistics Support contracts.


Asset Information Management

A master data management practice of containing data regarding assets in a centralized asset register, centralizing as-designed, as-built and as-maintained data. This enables proper asset lifecycle management, enterprise asset management, preventive maintenance and compliance with standards including ISO 55000.


Asset Integrity Management Systems
Asset Integrity Management Systems (AIMS) outline the ability of an asset to perform its required function effectively and efficiently whilst protecting health, safety and the environment and the means of ensuring that the people, systems, processes, and resources that deliver integrity are in place, in use and will perform when required over the whole lifecycle of the asset.


Application Lifecycle Management
The product lifecycle management (governance, development, and maintenance) of application software.


Asset Lifecycle Management
Asset Lifecycle Management (ALM) is the process of optimizing the profit generated by your assets throughout their lifecycle. Comprehensive asset portfolio management, rigorous project execution, and effective and efficient asset management practices help deliver desired outcomes.


Application Programming Interface
In computer programming, an API specifies how some software components should interact with each other. In simple terms, applications talk to each other without any user knowledge or intervention. For example, when you buy movie tickets online and enter your credit card information, the movie ticket website uses an API to send your credit card information securely to a remote application that verifies whether your information is correct. Once payment is confirmed, the remote application sends a response back to the movie ticket website saying it's okay to issue the tickets. Similarly, an enterprise resource planning (ERP) software product may rely on a pre-defined API to share information with a warehouse management system or other extension.


Business Intelligence
The transformation of raw data into meaningful and useful information for business analysis purposes. BI can handle enormous amounts of structured and/or unstructured data to help identify, develop and otherwise create new strategic business opportunities. BI allows for the easy interpretation of volumes of data in ways that would be challenging for more transactional systems like enterprise resource planning (ERP) software.


Building Information Modeling
Involves the generation and management of digital representations of the physical and functional characteristics of assets. BIM files can be exchanged or networked to support decision-making about an asset throughout its lifecycle (i.e., design, procure, build, operate, maintain).


Corrective and Preventive Actions
Improvements to an organization's processes taken to eliminate causes of non-conformities or other undesirable situations. CAPA is a concept within good manufacturing practice and numerous ISO business standards. It focuses on the systematic investigation of the root causes of identified problems or identified risks in an attempt to prevent their recurrence (for corrective action) or to prevent occurrence (for preventive action).


Contracting for Availability
Contracting for Availability (CfA) is a process by which defense contractors are paid according to the amount of time that an asset is available based upon measurable performance targets. The key driver behind this form of contracting has been the need for defense organizations to achieve the strategic goal of reducing operating costs.


Contract Lifecycle Management
The proactive, methodical management of a contract from initiation through award, compliance and renewal. Implementing CLM can lead to significant improvements in cost savings and efficiency. Understanding and automating CLM can also limit organizational liability and increase compliance with legal requirements.


Computerized Maintenance Management System
A CMMS software package maintains a computer database of information about an organization's maintenance operations, intended to help maintenance workers do their jobs more effectively and to help management make informed decisions. CMMS data may also be used to verify regulatory compliance.


Commercial Off-The-Shelf
In the United States, COTS is a Federal Acquisition Regulation term for commercial items, including services, available in the commercial marketplace that can be bought and used under government contract.


Corporate Performance Management
An umbrella term that describes the methodologies, metrics, processes and systems used to monitor and manage the business performance of an enterprise.


Customer Relationship Management   
A system for managing a company’s interactions with current and future customers using technology to organize, automate and synchronize sales,marketing, customer service, and technical support. See also SCRM.


Corporate Social Responsibility   
A corporate initiative to assess and take responsibility for a company's effects on the environment and impact on social welfare. The term generally applies to company efforts that go beyond what may be required by regulators, standards like ISO 26000 or environmental protection groups. Corporate social responsibility may also be referred to as "corporate citizenship" and can involve incurring short-term costs that do not provide an immediate financial benefit to the company, but instead promote positive social and environmental change.


CTO represents the ability for a user to define the component make-up (configuration) of a product at the time a product is ordered, with the vendor subsequently building out that configuration dynamically upon receipt of the order.


Delegation Of Authority
In essence, the practice of granting subordinates the ability to act or make decisions independently of oversight or prior approval. This can impact a number of areas in enterprise software, from the ability to grant credit limits to customers, to approval of changes to a specification in an engineering document to user access permissions in the software itself.


Enterprise Asset Management
The whole life optimal management of the physical assets of an organization to maximize value covers things such as construction, commissioning, operations, maintenance and decommissioning/replacement of plant, equipment and facilities. "Enterprise" refers to the management of the assets across departments, locations, facilities and, in some cases, business units. By managing assets across the facility, organizations can improve utilization and performance, reduce capital costs, reduce asset-related operating costs, extend asset life and subsequently improve return on assets.


Electronic Data Interchange
An electronic communication system that provides standards for exchanging data via any electronic means: by adhering to the same standard, two different companies, even in two different countries, can electronically exchange documents (such as purchase orders, invoices, shipping notices, and many others). EDI has existed for more than 30 years, and there are many EDI standards some of which address the needs of specific industries or regions. EDI is commonly mandated by large Tier-1 manufacturers or governments as a method by which their suppliers and vendors communicate and exchange predefined transactional data including orders, payments, routing instructions, product registrations, ship notices/manifests or advance ship notices.


Engineering, Procurement and Construction
A prominent form of contracting agreement in the construction industry. The engineering and construction contractor will carry out the detailed engineering design of the project, procure all the equipment and materials necessary, and then construct to deliver a functioning facility or asset to their clients.


Enterprise Project Management
A way of thinking, communicating and working, supported by an information system, that organizes an enterprise's resources in a direct relationship to the leadership's vision and the mission, strategy, goals and objectives that move the organization forward. Simply put, EPM provides a 360-degree view of the organization's collective efforts.


Enterprise Resource Planning
Business management software - usually a suite of integrated applications - that a company can use to collect, store, manage and interpret data from many business activities. ERP tools share a common process and data model, covering broad and deep operational end-to-end processes, such as those found in finance, HR, distribution, manufacturing, service and the supply chain.


A manufacturing process defined by demand-driven practices in which the component is designed, engineered, and built to specifications only after the order has been received. It is a more dramatic evolution of a Build-To-Order supply chain. This approach is only appropriate for specific or rare items, such as large construction projects.


Earned Value Management
A project management technique for measuring project performance and progress. In a single integrated system, EVM is able to provide accurate forecasts of project performance problems, which is an important contribution for project management. EVM is commonly mandated for government projects, most notably in the aviation and defense space.


Financial Improvement and Audit Readiness
DOD has initiated numerous efforts over the years to address its financial management weaknesses and achieve audit readiness. In 2005, DOD issued its Financial Improvement and Audit Readiness (FIAR) Plan to define the department's strategy and methodology for improving financial management operations and controls, and reporting its progress.


Failure Mode Effect Analysis
A step-by-step approach for collecting knowledge about possible points of failure in a design, manufacturing process, product or service.


Field Service Management
FSM includes the detection of a field service need through remote monitoring or other means, inspection or a customer detecting a fault, field technician scheduling and optimization, dispatching, parts information delivery to the field, and process support of field technician interactions.


Internet of Things
The network of physical objects which collect and exchange data through an embedded computing system is known as the Internet of Things (IoT). These “things” collect useful data which flows autonomously between other devices, with the help of existing technologies. Each is uniquely identifiable and interoperable within the existing internet infrastructure. According to experts, IoT, a term first coined in 1999 by British entrepreneur, Kevin Ashton, is expected to consist of almost 50 billion objects by 2020.


International Organization for Standardization
ISO (International Organization for Standardization) is an independent, non-governmental membership organization and the world's largest developer of voluntary International Standards.


International Traffic in Arms Regulation
A set of US government regulations that control the export and import of defense-related articles and services on the United States Munitions List. ITAR regulations dictate that information and material pertaining to defense and military related technologies (for items listed on the US Munitions List) may only be shared with US Persons unless authorization from the Department of State is received or a special exemption is used.


Just In Time
An inventory strategy companies employ to increase efficiency and decrease waste by receiving goods only as they are needed in the production process, thereby reducing inventory costs.


Key Performance Indicators
KPI (also known as Key Success Indicators or KSI) help an organization define and measure progress toward organizational goals. Once an organization has analyzed its mission, identified all its stakeholders, and defined its goals, it needs a way to measure progress toward those goals. Key Performance Indicators are those measurements.


Materials Management Operations Guideline Logistics Evaluation

A global standard for supply chain management processes that reduce costs from errors, waste, and workload for suppliers and customers.


Materials Review Board
The MRB is composed of representatives from every department having any interaction with inventory issues – accounting, engineering, logistics, and production.  For example, the engineering staff may need to retain some items that they are planning to incorporate into a new design, while the logistics staff may know that it is impossible to obtain a rare part, and so prefer to hold onto the few items left in stock for service parts use.


Maintenance Repair and Overhaul
MRO involves fixing any sort of mechanical, plumbing or electrical device should it become out of order or broken (known as repair, unscheduled, or casualty maintenance). It also includes performing routine actions which keep the device in working order (known as scheduled maintenance) or prevent trouble from arising (preventive maintenance).


Manufacturing Resource Planning
Successor to Material Requirements Planning (MRP), Manufacturing Resource Planning  (MRP II) integrates planning of all aspects of a manufacturing firm's activities, not just production. MRP II includes functions such as business planning, production planning and scheduling, capacity requirement planning, job costing, financial management and forecasting, and more. Both are predecessors of ERP; both are still widely used, independently and as modules of more comprehensive ERP systems.


Make To Stock
Make to stock is a manufacturing mode whereby products are manufactured prior to an order from a customer or distribution channel, and are kept in stock for fulfillment of subsequent orders.


Non-Conformance Report
An NCR documents the details of a non-conformance identified in a quality audit or other process review. The objective of the report is to make an unambiguous, defensible, clear and concise definition of the problem so that corrective action can and will be initiated by management.


Overall Equipment Effectiveness
A hierarchy of metrics to evaluate how effectively a manufacturing operation is utilized. The results are stated in a generic form which allows comparison between manufacturing units in differing industries. OEE measurement is also commonly used as a key performance indicator (KPI) in conjunction with lean manufacturing efforts to provide an indicator of success.


Original Equipment Manufacturer
Producer or manufacturer of a complete end product (such as a car engine, cooling unit, or a circuit board) or a sub-assembly (such as a carburetor, compressor, or a chip) used in an end product.


Performance-Based Logistics
A strategy for cost-effective weapon system support used in the defense industry. Rather than contracting for the acquisition of goods and services, the product support manager identifies product support integrators to deliver performance outcomes as defined by performance metrics for a system or product.


Project-Based Solution
An enterprise-wide business solution to manage and coordinate all resources, information and functions of an organization from a shared data source, where data can be attributed to and managed through individual projects. A PBS system has a service-oriented architecture (SOA) with modular hardware and software units or “services” that communicate on a local area network. This modular design allows a business to add or reconfigure modules (perhaps from different vendors) while preserving data integrity in one shared database that may be centralized or distributed.


Project-Enabled Manufacturing
Manufacturing process that is dependent on detailed real-time management of projects with multiple dependencies. This requires enterprise software built around the work breakdown structure (WBS). This allows all the activities related to a particular project, including purchases, costs, production, documents and shipments, to be tied back to an appropriate project. Integration with financials allows you to spot issues while the project is in progress so that you can adapt as conditions change.


Preventive Maintenance
The care and servicing by personnel for the purpose of maintaining equipment and facilities in satisfactory operating condition by providing for systematic inspection, detection, and correction of incipient failures either before they occur or before they develop into major defects. Maintenance, including tests, measurements, adjustments, and parts replacement, performed specifically to prevent faults from occurring.


Project Portfolio Management
The centralized management of processes, methods, and technologies used by project managers and project management offices to analyze and collectively manage current or proposed projects based on numerous key characteristics. The objectives of PPM are to determine the optimal resource mix for delivery and to schedule activities to best achieve an organization's operational and financial goals  while honoring constraints imposed by customers, strategic objectives, or external real-world factors.


Reliability-Centered Maintenance
A proven method for the development of robust and auditable maintenance schedules that help a business achieve its goals and minimize through-life costs.


Radio Frequency Identification
An automated data collection technology that uses radio frequency waves to transfer data between a reader and a tag to identify, track and locate the tagged item. RFID tags are used in many industries. An RFID tag attached to an automobile during production can be used to track its progress through the assembly line. Pharmaceuticals can be tracked through warehouses. Livestock and pets may have tags injected, allowing positive identification of the animal.


Return Material Authorizations
An e-commerce term that describes an arrangement in which the supplier of a good or product agrees to have a customer or client ship that item back to them in exchange for a refund or credit. This sort of agreement, which is also called a return merchandise authorization or returned goods authorization, allows for a higher degree of guaranteed quality. In the IT industry, this type of transaction may involve a software license rather than a physical product. In these cases, the supplier and the customer can negotiate over future licensing authorization, whether this involves additional licensing for operating systems or areas of an IT infrastructure, or application of a license credit to the purchase of other products or additional versions of a software package.


Restriction of Hazardous Substances
The Restriction of Hazardous Substances Directive 2002/95/EC, RoHS, short for Directive on the restriction of the use of certain hazardous substances in electrical and electronic equipment, was adopted in February 2003 by the European Union. The RoHS directive took effect on 1 July 2006, and is required to be enforced and become law in each member state. This directive restricts (with exceptions) the use of six hazardous materials in the manufacture of various types of electronic and electrical equipment.


Return on Investment
A performance measure used to evaluate the efficiency of an investment or to compare the efficiency of a number of different investments. To calculate ROI, the benefit (return) of an investment is divided by the cost of the investment; the result is expressed as a percentage or a ratio.


Software as a Service
Software that is owned, delivered and managed remotely by one or more providers. The provider delivers software based on one set of common code and data definitions that is consumed in a one-to-many model by all contracted customers at anytime on a pay-for-use basis or as a subscription based on use metrics.


Supply Chain Management
The management of the flow of goods that includes the movement and storage of raw materials, work-in-process inventory, and finished goods from point of origin to point of consumption.


Strategic CRM
Strategic CRM is a core customer-centric business strategy that aims at winning and keeping profitable customers.


Service Level Agreement
An agreement that sets the expectations between the service provider and the customer and describes the products or services to be delivered, the single point of contact for end-user problems and the metrics by which the effectiveness of the process is monitored and approved.


Service-Oriented Architecture
A software design and software architecture design pattern based on distinct pieces of software providing application functionality as services to other applications. This is known as service-orientation. It is independent of any vendor, product or technology.


Statistics Process Control
A method of quality control which uses statistical methods, SPC is applied in order to monitor and control a process to ensure that it operates at its full potential. The process can then make as much conforming product as possible with a minimum (if not an elimination) of waste. SPC can be applied to any process where the "conforming product" (product meeting specifications) output can be measured.


Spare Parts Management
The main component of a complete Strategic Service Management process that companies use to ensure that right spare part and resources are at the right place at the right time.


Total Cost of Ownership
A measurement of the cost assets that includes the cost used to operate and maintain them as well as the procurement cost.


Work Breakdown Structure
In project management and systems engineering, WBS is a deliverable-oriented decomposition of a project into smaller components. A work breakdown structure element may be a product, data, service, or any combination thereof. A WBS also provides the necessary framework for detailed cost estimating and control along with providing guidance for schedule development and control.


Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment
A European Parliament directive on waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE) which, together with the RoHS Directive 2002/95/EC, became European Law in February 2003. WEEE Directive 2002/96/EC set collection, recycling and recovery targets for all types of electrical goods, with a minimum rate of 4 kilograms per head of population per annum recovered for recycling by 2009. See also RoHS.

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