Why I loathe when engineers use TLAs, such as CD vs CD!

Posted by Willy-Peter Schaub on Fri 01 October 2021

The use of TLAs creates subpar collaboration, unnecessary confusion, and unintended waste.

When last were you sitting in a discussion, lost in a bombardment of TLAs (three-lettered-acronyms)? In engineering, especially software engineering, we have an abundance of acronyms which is the norm for us, but the kiss of confusion and one of the core reasons collaboration with our non-IT stakeholders is so challenging.

IT = Information Technology in the context of this post. It could be mistaken for internet times, international trade, income tax, initial test, I think, etc.

Seek Clarity!


In our common engineering team, we are spearheading several cool initiatives, such as optimization of meetings (a future topic) and the avoidance of TLAs or FLAs - three, four, and five lettered acronyms. Instead, when writing, we practice the recommended way of first mentioning the full meaning, followed by the acronym, for example Information Technology (IT).

When collaborating verbally we encourage everyone to "read" the TLA, but "speak" the expanded form. In other words, when we read "IT is fun", we say "Information Technology is fun."


A simple way to change the most complex and confusing conversation, to a simple and easy to understand collaboration.

So, what is CD versus CD?

Continuous Delivery (CD) is similar, but not the same as Continuous Deployment (CD). Although CD == CD, there is a subtle difference.

Continuous Delivery

Continuous Delivery deploys the release artifacts to several environment, such as development, system test, staging, and production, or deployment rings. See Act 3 in Navigating DevOps through Waterfalls and Feature flags or Rings for details.

Continuous Deployment

Continuous Deployment deploys the release artifacts to a single environment and each change goes directly to production. Using Hypothesis-driven Development, for example, you can separate the deploy from the release using Feature Flags, hiding the changes until it is time to release them for prime time.

Imagine if you are sitting in a production release planning meeting and mistake CD for CD - welcome 2AM production incident meeting(s) :( Compared to have clarity whether the release is based on Continuous Delivery or Continuous Deployment - enjoy a night of uninterrupted quality sleep :) The choice is yours!

Keep it simple and avoid waste!

In conclusion, having a common and clear language, void of the infamous TLAs, energizes collaboration and avoids waste such as frustration, confusion, overwhelming loss of space crafts in translation, or worse unrecognized waste.

Invaluable feedback from discussions making communication unambiguous

We have received candid feedback on how to make communication unambiguous, which I would like to add to this post.

  • Avoid technical jargon.
  • Avoid colloquialism.
  • Avoiding acronyms and technical jargon also addresses accessibility, not everyone fills a technical role within this Division therefore I consistently must ask the meaning of acronyms. I would add using proper nouns (I spoke to Annette) instead of pronouns (I spoke to her), of course this is not related to a person's preferred identity signature block. - AnnetteG.

THANK YOU for the candid feedback. Keep it coming.

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