Receptive’s SaaS Acronyms & Jargon Cheat Sheet (Part 1)

A guide for new product managers

When I first entered the world of product management, I was overwhelmed by the amount of jargon and acronyms. SaaS has a lot of acronyms and jargon. Like, a lot.

The first thing any prospective product manager has to learn will be the three cardinal rules of SaaS:

  • Religiously follow Dilbert;
  • bring donuts to everything;
  • there are apparently magical unicorns and they are everything.

The second is being able to identify your whales from unicorns. So to (hopefully) make your lives a little easier, I give you a SaaS acronym and jargon cheat sheet.

Development & UX


Unlike traditional .exe software development that involves a lot of up front planning and design (read: takes a hell of a lot longer), many SaaS companies now rely on Agile methodologies which relies on continual delivery and improvement, or ‘iterations’ of the product.

I really like Manifesto’s description:

“…Agile methodologies allow for changing requirements over time by using cross-functional teams — incorporating planners, designers, developers and testers — which work on successive iterations of the product over fixed time periods (timeboxes). The work is organised into a backlog that is prioritised in to exact priority order based on business (or user) value.”


Unlike Agile, Waterfall is a lot more planning-intensive, requiring you to gather requirements and do all the design work up front.

Again, Manifesto has a great description,

“Each phase of a product’s life cycle takes place in sequence, so that progress flows steadily downwards through these phases like a waterfall”


You’ll often be able to identify Kanban methodology at work from a quick glance. Usually distinguishable by its post-it note queueing system, it styles itself as a ‘just-in-time’ method of product delivery. This methodology places an emphasis on flexibility, work in progress, transparency and optimization of delivery times.

Atlassian has a good intro to the history and ideology.


A short meeting between everyone on the development team to discuss what’s been done and what they’re working on now

Sprint, Iteration

A period of work that the development team starts and finishes work at the same time, and everything gets ‘shipped’ at the end


A big feature that has lots of parts


When a new feature or product is rolled out or implemented

User Stories

User stories come from Agile methodology, and capture software feature requirements from the user’s perspective. Users are typically grouped into user personas with descriptors that tie them together such as job descriptions, interests, age interests.


“A culture, movement or practice that emphasizes the collaboration and communication of both software developers and other information-technology (IT) professionals while automating the process of software delivery and infrastructure changes”

Burn Down Chart, or Velocity

Typically associated with Agile sprint planning, a burn down chart a capacity planning tool to determine effort level versus the time it takes to deliver.

Read Part 1, and stay tuned for Part 3! Make sure to follow Receptive on Medium for more product management pro tips & insights!

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