Project Management Terms

Project management termsProject management terms can get confusing, especially when you’re starting out as a project manager. Below we’ve compiled a list of over 50 commonly used terms with simple definitions to help you learn the lingo and sound professional in those project meetings.

You can download the project management terms as a handy PDF  here

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or simply scroll through them alphabetically to find what you’re looking for

List of Project Management Terms

Project TermMeaning
AgileIterative method of building or designing a product. Each iteration is reviewed by the project team after completion allowing people to respond to issues as they arise.
AssumptionsFactors about the project that are considered to be true but may not be. Wrong assumptions can get you into a lot of trouble.
ActivitiesSpecific actions to be performed to produce the project deliverables. Activities may be referred to as tasks
BaselineThe original estimates for schedule and cost and scope used to measure the performance of a project
Best practicesGenerally accepted standards for approaching a specific project methodology, task or build. Delivers superior results
BudgetThe estimated cost of completing the project. Or the money allocated to the project
Business CaseThe justification or motivation for implementing a project showing the strategic or financial benefits. Usually in a structured document.
Business RequirementsThe needs of the business that the project will seek to fulfil. Often set out in a Business Requirements Specification
Business Requirements SpecificationDocument setting out the business requirements for a project. Will often describe the context, purpose, background, risks and benefits.
CAPEXCapital expenditure. In the project context often refers to money spent by the company to acquire assets or add infrastructure which will have benefit beyond the current year.
Change controlA process to ensure changes to the project are identified, documented and controlled.
Cost Benefit AnalysisOften used in a Business Case to compare the cost of the project to the financial benefits it produces
ConstraintsFactors that cannot be changed that will determine the outcome of the project. Eg budgets, existing systems, resources or environmental factors
Critical PathThe sequence of tasks required for successful project completion. Each task has a duration and dependencies on tasks before and after it.
DeliverableA project task or item of work that needs to be delivered
DependencySomething that may affect the outcome of a project. They may include environmental factors, resource availability, material shortages, other projects, budget delays or technical dependencies.
DurationThe length of time needed to complete an activity.
EffortThe amount of work units required to complete the activity. Effort may also be referred to as staff-hours, days, or weeks
End userThe person or group who will use the product produced by the project. They often do End User Testing
Fixed CostA cost that stays constant despite changes in other project variables. Eg the cost of a server
Functional RequirementsThe requirements that describe the specifics of how the end user must interact with the product
Functional Requirements SpecificationDocument setting out the functional requirements for a project product. Will often describe specific steps or User Stories for each functional feature
Gantt ChartA horizontal bar chart that shows the scheduled and completed project tasks with durations and dates. An important tool to show progress vs. time
GovernanceThe set of policies and processes that determine how a project will be managed inside a particular organisation
IntegrationHow all the elements of the project will fit together. In software development this may include the interface, database, hardware and security application for example
IssueSomething that may impact the project negatively and needs to be resolved. Often used as a term for a bug in software testing
Kickoff MeetingThe first meeting with the client to determine the scope and context of the project
Lessons LearnedA review of what was learned during the project and can be retained by the organisation for future reference
LagThe amount of time after one task is started or finished before the next task can be started or finished.
MilestoneA specific point on a project timeline which may be the end of a phase, a review point or budget check. Milestones are important for checking the progress of the project
MethodologyA specific project management approach with its own set of rules and processes. Agile, Waterfall, Scrum and Prince 2 are common examples
OutputThe finished product or end result of a process
PhaseA part of a project lifecycle. Generally there are 4 phases - initiation, planning, execution and closure
PredecessorAn activity that needs to be completed before the current activity on the schedule
ProgramA group of projects that are managed together
ProjectA collaborative exercise with structured sequence of tasks designed with a specific end goal in mind.
Project CharterDefines the project objectives, identifies the main stakeholders, and sets out the business needs, context and purpose of the project
Project Life CycleGenerally follows 4 phases - initiation, planning, execution and closure. Other phases my be included at the beginning like feasibility, or at the end like handover and post-project evaluation
Project ManagerThe person responsible for the planning and execution of a project.
Proof of ConceptA small exercise to test a specific design idea or assumption
PrototypeA version of the real system or product used to test out its features
PMBOKA Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge is a book which presents a set of standard terminology and guidelines for project management.
Prince 2A methodology that focuses on dividing a project up into manageable phases. It has a product-based planning approach and emphasises business justification.
Quality AssuranceThe evaluation of overall project outputs to ensure they meet quality standards required by the organisation
RACI ChartA matrix of project decisions or activities with names of people who are responsible, accountable, consulted or informed
ResourcesOften used to refer to project staff but can include money or physical resources like hardware or building materials
Return on Investment (ROI)The value of the outcomes compared to the money and resources invested in the project
RiskAn event or variable that can have negative consequences for the outcome of the project. Common risks are poor stakeholder support, budget constraints, technology challenges and scope creep.
ScopeThe goals and objectives of the project including a description of the features or products to be built. Can include what is not to be built.
Scope CreepThe adding of new features or requirements while the project is in progress.
ScrumAn iterative agile software development methodology that emphasises decision making based on results and working in short cadences of a week or two.
StakeholderAn individual or group that has an interest in the projects. General refers to clients, executives, end users or sponsors.
Use CaseA written description of how a user will perform a task on a system. Derived from Unified Modelling Language (UML), use cases are written using Actors, Preconditions, Triggers and Success Scenarios
Work Breakdown StructureDivides the project into phases, deliverables and work packages. Larger projects can have a few levels in the structure. The work breakdown structure should contain descriptions of each task, product or feature to be built.

We’ll be adding to our list of project management terms every so often so please check back again to see if there’s something you have missed.

Posted in Project Terminology.

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