Many, many moons ago we put out a call for outsourcing acronyms, humorous or otherwise, for a future Top Ten feature – and then, as submissions completely failed to flood in, we pretty much forgot about it and moved on. Until now… An odd flurry last week means we have a full complement – and very pleased we are too, as some of these are genuinely eye-opening (not to mention extremely droll). Do you know your vodka from your ZIPPO? Your Mimi from your Batgirl? Prepare to be educated, entertained and perhaps just a little bit scandalised, as we present our Top Ten Outsourcing Acronyms…
1. Mimi If you’re a service provider, Mimi’s your dream deal: gorgeous, stunning, beautiful, whatever adjective comes to mind when you contemplate an agreement of such heartbreaking profitability you want to whisk it home to meet your parents. However you choose to describe her, though, don’t let your client hear you call her by her name: you’ll never see her again and you’ll be left slumped over a bar, weeping silently into your cheap whiskey, wondering what might have been if only you’d been able to keep your big mouth shut. Minimum Investment, Maximum Income
2. Batgirl Staying on the feminine side, this one represents an irritatingly persistent bit of “sharp practice” on the part of suppliers, a phenomenon with which, unfortunately, more than a few of you buyers out there are clearly familiar. It’s what happens when the superstars you’ve been working with hand in hand while the deal’s being agreed suddenly vanish into thin air the moment it’s signed, and you’re left with, at best, the backing singers, and at worst the X-Factor rejects: sorry, my friend, but you’ve been Batgirled… Bought the A-Team; Got Idiots in Reality.
3. SITIS Hopefully as the automation revolution continues apace, this will soon be a thing of the past – but labour arbitrage isn’t dead yet, and until the last nail’s hammered down into its coffin we’re still likely to hear this term hurled disdainfully around like a lukewarm potato. Got a problem that you want taken off your plate, that only sheer manpower can solve? SITIS… Send It To India, Stupid
4. FAB This one was suggested by an Outsource contributor who learnt it from a former boss, now one of the most prominent women in the IT world. Apparently, this future biztech titan would utter this acronym out loud, or append it to emails, memos etc in any circumstance when she wanted her true feelings to be concealed. If something sounded “fab” to this exec, sadly for its hapless originator/s it was actually entirely the opposite. Frankly, Absolute Bullshit
5. Vodka A little gem from the legal eagles here: apparently if you ever hear an agreement described as “vodka” you can be pretty sure that the lawyer doing the describing isn’t having the best of times working on it (and you’d certainly better hope your own deal isn’t the one in the description). We like this one so much we’re even prepared to forgive the dreadful liberties one has to take with one’s spelling to make it fit… Vendor’s Dodgy, Client’s an Asshole
6. STEP A provider friend of Outsource tells us that, if you’re on the sell side and you hear your cash cow deal being described as “STEP” (or that other providers are looking to “STEP up”) it’s time to shape up – big-style. Get things sorted PDQ or you and your organisation are history, at least as far as that client’s concerned. Service Terrible; Easy Pickings
7. ZIPPO Very similar to the previous entry, this one, and presumably not as widespread, as our source claims himself to have been its originator a few years ago whilst working for one of Big Outsourcing’s most notoriously cut-throat sales outfits. Our (anti-?)hero prided himself on being able to spot STEPs a mile off, though he called them by another name: the suitable inflammatory “ZIPPO”. Hot stuff indeed. Zombie Incumbent; Potentially Perfect Opportunity
8. Goshin To some people, “goshin” is a brand of martial art focussing primarily on an active defence; to those in the know, however, it means something very different (though knowing this can also save one from great harm). If an agreement – especially one still under development – is described as “goshin”, one should run for the hills: the term refers to a deal that looks on the surface to all the world like an incredible bargain/cash cow (depending on which side of the fence one finds oneself) yet upon closer inspection reveals itself to be a festering, putrefying, potentially toxic mess. You have been warned. Gold Outside, Shit Inside
9. NBC No, not the world-famous broadcasting giant, but a term (derived, of course, from The Wizard of Oz) apparently sometimes used by analysts to describe an offering, an organisation or even occasionally an individual excessively shrouded in hype and marketing flimflammery yet ultimately devoid of substance. Of course, we wouldn’t know anyone or anything fitting that particularly undesirable bill… Nothing Behind the Curtain
10. RadAway An exquisitely nerdish finish: readers familiar with the Fallout series of video games will know about RadAway, a fictional substance encountered in-game which cleanses the player of radiation (it’s a tough world out there). Some waggish denizen of the bowels of the customer contact industry repurposed the term to refer to any customer care service available 24/7/365 but which is about as useful as a dose of radiation sickness. Anonymous genius, we salute you! Rubbish All Day, All Week, All Year So, we got there in the end - and, of course, the end might be merely a new beginning, for as with all our Top Tens if we get enough supplementary submissions we'll be happy to put together a second part down the line. If you've got your own jargon to which you think your peers should be privy, let's have it: all submissions, please, to jliddell@sig,org. Anonymity comes as standard - so there's no excuse for being a FLAB!