My Outlook flags the word "solutioning" as a spelling mistake.

According to Urban Dictionary :

solutioning: A word many business people misuse to describe the process of creating a solution. These people need a grammar lesson and should be fired immediately.

Is the word correct?

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    When the only place you can find a word is the Urban Dictionary, then it's probably either a very rare word, or not a real word at all. But what's in a word? There can be a lot of gray area on what constitutes a "correct English word." –  J.R. May 9 '12 at 18:41
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    I don’t know about correct or incorrect, but it certainly rubs me the wrong way. –  tchrist May 9 '12 at 18:55
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    It is not a word. –  Kris May 9 '12 at 19:00
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    Correct in what sense? English is a natural, evolving language. correct/incorrect is not a constructive way to look at this question. –  Matt E. Эллен May 10 '12 at 9:22
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    2019 Dry Barcelona 2018 Season Tee Nike Volt Yellow Pre I can't comment on its correctness, however, I have seen it used within the software industry to describe the act of solving a business problem with software application(s). In several development environments a "solution" is an actual item, not simply a concept. It is often the highest level object containing all the other pieces of code or resources to be delivered in a program. In this sense, I can see how the noun/verb creativity could evolve. "The vendor is solutioning that for us next year" ... "That was solutioned with XYZ, ABC, and 123" Lazy? Yes. Correct? Maybe not. Useful? Yes –  Shawn May 16 '13 at 17:46
up vote 28 down vote accepted

I presume you mean "solution" in the sense of finding a way to overcome a problem. In that case, "solution" is the noun form of "solve". There's no need to take a noun derived from a verb and then derive yet another verb from that noun. You say "We are working on solving the problem", NOT "We are working on solutioning the problem."

If by "solution" you mean a solid mixed into a liquid, then the verb is "dissolve". Again, no need to invent a new word.

If there's some reason why you need to distinguish some method or process of finding solutions, or some specific approach to finding solutions, from simply solving problems, I suppose it's plausible to invent a new word.

But please please please don't tell me that you want to say "we solutioned the problem" rather than "we solved the problem" because it "sounds more professional" or something like that. I hate it when people utilize paradigms inculcating contra-diminutive words for the ostensible objective of maximizing pretentiousness.

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    +1 (Just for the pleasure of reading your last sentence!) –  JLG May 9 '12 at 21:13
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    Using solution as a verb meaning solve is an example of what I have heard called MBA-speak. Just today my boss wrote in an e-mail "we will have a meeting about this to solution it in the future". –  Pink KENDELL Only KENDELL Pink Pink KENDELL KENDELL Only Only Only Pink nwqzxYwTp May 9 '12 at 21:16
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    Don't you mean leveraging pretentiousness? –  cornbread ninja 麵包忍者 May 9 '12 at 21:21
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    @RedDwight I meant that there's no need to derive a verb from a noun that was derived from a verb TO MEAN THE SAME THING AS THE ORIGINAL VERB. Yes, it's valid and good if the meaning is different. Like, beg, verb, to ask for charity; beggar, noun, one who lives off of charity; beggar, verb, to reduce someone to poverty. "Beggar" (the verb) has a very different meaning from "beg", so a new word is appropriate. –  Jay May 10 '12 at 14:24
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    I am not about to start "Solutioning," so you'll just have to stop "Probleming". –  Devon_C_Miller Jan 9 '15 at 23:00

There is a verb solution meaning ‘To treat with, fasten or secure by, a solution’. There is no reason why it should not have an -ing form.

First, this is a specialist term. Much like vocabulary in medicine, engineering, math and sciences, software development, etc. The same term may be used across these domains with radically different meaning. As such it must be noted while this most certainly is an important term in the IT domain, use outside of this domain is probably a mistake.

Solutioning is a commonplace term in IT and IT recruitment. In IT there is the common job title solution architect. A solution architect is someone who provides IT solutions in a particular domain, often software development but there are solution architects in Data Warehouse(DW), Storage, and many other IT domains.

I would define it as the process of creating solutions. The distinction that should be noted is that many issues arise. All programming in a sense is problem solving, but regardless of the specific type of solution architect their ongoing duty is to solve problems. They are not hired to solve specific problems (although certainly quite a number of such would be identified) but also solve future issues. For this reason they describe their work as "solutioning", a term which encapsulates this idea of an ongoing problem solving process.

A further part of the etymology, is the link in software development from mathematics. That is, in software development a piece of software is often refereed to as a "solution"(among developers anyways). Like functions in math, software takes inputs and returns outputs. At the small level this occurs in software functions, at the larger levels in more abstract ways. But the point to take away is that during development you're plugging these systems together, each part complete in it's own right. Each sub-component a "solution" to some part of the problem. The work is software development and solutioning is highly related term, but when we think of the former we think of programming while the later refers to a concern at a higher level. This is why we say the architect performs solutioning, and it is an activity that is nearly exclusive to the domain of IT architecture (at least at the time of writing).

  • Finally, a foot note, if you guys want to get mad about something you should get mad about "architecting" while I think there is a place for solutioning "architecting" really rubs me the wrong way. Because while the title may be "Architect", the function is "designing" not "architecting". –  Quaternion Jan 16 '17 at 23:01

I work in the semiconductor industry where engineers place a great economy on communication; frugality with words leads us to use a lot of acronyms for technical terms. There is also an emphasis on actions and outcomes rather than patience with something that is uncertain or not yet finished. As a result we would object to the sentence example “We are working on solving the problem” for two reasons:

  1. “We are solutioning the problem” is shorter and does not force you to link two –ing verbs. (The spoken cadence is just easier.)
  2. In a technical context indicating that you are “working on the problem” is very different from saying you are “solving the problem”. In the first case you may be developing a hypothesis, or merely collecting data but the outcome is uncertain. In the second, you have moved past the uncertain stage and are closing in on implementing the answer. We would hear “we are working on solving the problem” as the former: the solution is not yet identified, outcome uncertain.

Combined these have lead the technical community I work in to standardize on “solutioning”; it is short and clearly links to the certainty of the outcome.
(You may all now groan because engineers are notoriously poor linguists.)

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    If someone told me they were "solutioning the problem" I would have no idea that they meant to make any particular distinction from the idea of solving the problem. And I am also an engineer. Your near community may have developed this special meaning for "solutioning" but I don't think it has spread broadly through English speaking world or the engineering community. –  The Photon Dec 7 '13 at 5:50
  • @ThePhoton I have worked in software for more than 20 years. I am very familiar with the term and have been for more than a decade for certain. Because you haven't heard it wherever you work and in whatever you work on, does not negate Richard's response. In fact, the response makes perfect sense to me. –  Bill Rosmus Jul 7 '17 at 21:06
  • @BillR, if OP was looking (4 years ago) for a word that will be understood by a wide audience, they need to be more concerned about anecdotal cases of environments where the word is unknown than anecdotal cases of environments where it is well known. –  The Photon Jul 7 '17 at 21:21

There is an actual job title of "Solutioner" in a lot of IT companies, such as IBM. The act of fulfilling their job role is known as "Solutioning". So if it is a made-up word, it is because the job title has brought it into existence.

"They were curious if we could offer IP phones as a service in the interim until the solutioning of their new IP system is in place and configured."

Used in context where solutioning refers to the actions of Solution Directors and finding a solution to a problem.

The word "Solutionner" exists in French and is a synonym of "résoudre", meaning solving and/or resolving. I guess the proper word in English is either one of these two last words.

Solutioning is word. It may be industry specific to Information Technology, but in that context it definitely is a word. Just because someone doesn't like it, doesn't mean they get to take that away. And if you don't like it, you better not work in or around IT, because you will hear it at least some of the time. Don't believe me, just Google for "solutioning IT". You will find a good number of hits referencing it. Here is one I picked at random:

https://itdelivery.com.au/consulting-services/it-solutioning

  • When writing, know your audience. If OP is writing for an audience of IT people in a group that uses this word regularly, then it's fine to use. If they're not certain their audience will understand the word, they should probably look for an alternative. –  The Photon Jul 7 '17 at 21:23

protected by tchrist Aug 15 '14 at 18:24

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