The Complete Glossary of 615 Project Management Terms

January 11, 2021
60 minute read

Project management terminology can be complicated. It doesn’t matter whether you’re working towards your PMP certification or simply managing projects casually in your organization, knowing core project management terms always helps.

On this page, we’ve collected over 600 project management terms to help you understand the A to Z of project management.

Bookmark this project management glossary and refer to it whenever you come across any project management jargon.


All Project Management Terms

Click the links below to jump to the right project management term:



Accept: A response to a project risk where the project manager accepts the risk and takes no action to evade it, i.e. 'accepting' the risk. This is usually in case of risks that are unlikely to occur or minor enough so as to not affect the project's outcome.

Acceptance Criteria: A set of formal requirements that a project must pass before it can be accepted by the project sponsors. 

Acceptance Test: A process through which a project's end users run through the project to identify any potential issues before it can be formally accepted.

Accrual Work Done: Work that has been done but hasn't been paid for.

Action Item: An activity that must be completed for the project to move forward.

Action Item Status: The current status of an Action Item.

Activity: A distinct, identifiable portion of work done during the course of a project. Each 'activity' is the smallest unit of work that can be performed within the scope of the project.

Activity Duration: The total length of time it takes to complete an activity from start to finish.

Activity ID: An alphanumeric code used to identify an activity. 

Activity List: A list of all the activities that make up a project. Together, these activities make up the complete scope of the project.

Activity Network: A network diagram that shows all the activities in a project along with their dependencies. Activity Network is also called a Network Diagram.

Actual Cost of Work Performed: The total cost of work performed during any given period of time.

Actual Dates: The actual date on which any activity starts or ends. Actual dates are different from planned or estimated dates.

Actual Duration: The actual time spent on an activity from start to finish. Actual Duration is a function of the activity's Actual Start and Actual Finish dates.

Actual Effort: The actual effort spent to complete the activity, as opposed to the planned or estimated effort.

Actual Expenditure: The actual expenditure spent to complete the activity, as opposed to the planned or estimated expenditure.

Actual Finish: The actual date on which an activity ends, as opposed to the planned or estimated finish date

Actual Progress: The actual current progress of the project compared to the estimated project baselines. Actual Progress is expressed as a percentage and indicates whether the project is performing over/under original estimates.

Actual Start: The actual date on which an activity starts, as opposed to the planned or estimated start date

Actual Time Expended: The actual time spent on an activity from the Actual Start to the present date. 

Adaptive Project Framework (APF): An alternate approach to project management that focuses on estimating project work in stages based on changing business environment. APF is the opposite of the traditional top-down waterfall planning method and prioritizes flexibility and adaptability.

Administrative Closure: A list of the requirements necessary to formally close the project.

Adoption: In the life cycle of a project, Adoption is the phase where the project's deliverables are put to use and their benefits realized.

Aggregate Planning: A technique for estimating resource and personnel requirements for the next 3 to 18 months based on demand forecasts.

Agile: A project management methodology that focuses on delivering work in an iterative fashion. All work is divided into short bursts called "sprints". The agile approach is usually used in software projects where the scope is not always known and adaptability is prioritized

Agile Project Management: A project management approach that uses the Agile methodology with a focus on iteration, flexibility, and adaptability.

Alliancing: Another term for 'Partnering', Alliancing is where two or more organizations work together to manage a contract.

Allocation: Another term for Resource Allocation. Allocation describes the process for assigning resources for different project activities in the most efficient way possible.

Alternate Dispute Resolution: Alternate Dispute Resolution (ADR) is the process of settling disputes outside courts through various avenues such as arbitration and mediation, etc.

Analogous Estimating: Analogous estimating, describes a technique for estimating the cost or duration of an activity or project based on historical data from similar activities or projects

Analytical Estimating: A technique for estimating the cost and/or duration of a project by estimating the cost and/or duration of every activity that constitutes the project and adding them together. Analytical estimating is often used alongside Analogous estimating to arrive at the true cost/duration of a project.

Approach Analysis: A technique to analyze the various methods that can be used to meet the project's goals. Approach Analysis is used during the Planning phase of each project.

Acquisition Process: The process for acquiring the resources and people needed to complete a project. 

Arrow Diagramming Method (ADM): A technique for creating network diagrams. Each activity is represented with arrows. Events and milestones are represented as nodes.

As Late as Possible (ALAP): In project management terms, ALAP is any activity that should be started as late as possible as long as it doesn't delay any of its successor activities. Activities are classified as ALAP if they have to wait on other deliverables or activities before they can begin.

As Soon as Possible (ASAP): In project management terms, ASAP is any activity for which the start date is as soon as possible. By default, every activity in a project is considered ASAP.

Assignment Contouring: This describes a process for changing the number of hours of work assigned to each person on the project as the project moves through different stages. Thus, instead of a fixed number of hours per day, a person might work for a variable number of hours on the project through Assignment Contouring.

Assumption: Anything assumed to be true - without sufficient evidence - during the planning phase of a project. Assumptions are a major contributor to Project Risk, A large number of assumptions increase the overall Project Risk.

Audit: The process of analyzing a project to ensure that it is being governed as intended. A project sponsor can request an audit. A project team might also go through an audit to ensure that there are no lapses in project management.

Authorization: Authorization is the power to make decisions. A project might have several levels of authorization for different activities or deliverables.

Authorization Points: Specific points during the course of a project at which the sponsor reviews the business case and approves the project onwards.

Authorized Work: Work that has been approved by someone with direct authorization over the activity, deliverable, or project.

Avoid: A response to a project risk that seeks to eliminate its occurrence or mitigate its impact on the project

Backward Pass: A technique used in Critical Path Method (CPM) to calculate the late start and late finish dates by working backwards from the project end date.

Balance: Balance describes a phase in a portfolio life cycle where all constituents of the portfolio are balanced in terms of resource use, risks, and costs.

Balanced Matrix: An organizational structure where functional managers and project managers have the same priority.

Bar Chart: A chart that shows the planned start and end dates of all the activities in a project in a logical order.

Base Date: A date that serves as the reference (or 'base') for the start of a project calendar.

Baseline: The baseline is the combination of costs and schedules fixed at the start of a project. The Actual Progress of the project is compared to the baseline. Setting the baseline is crucial for benchmarking the project.

Baseline Costs: The baseline cost is the estimated cost of a project or activity when the project is first planned or baselined.

Baseline Dates: The planned dates a project or activity is estimated to last when the project is first baselined. 

Baseline Plan: The original project plan against which all project performance is measured.

Baseline Schedule: The planned schedule of different activities in a project. This is the schedule against which project progress is measured.

Benchmarking: The process of surveying similar organizations running similar projects (or relying on external surveys) to arrive at the standard or baseline for the project. These standards serve as the 'benchmark' against which performance can be measured.

Benefits Framework: This defines the expected benefits of the project, the specific operations it would affect, and how the project's performance would be; a) realized, and b) measured.

Benefits Management: The process of identifying the benefits of a project, defining their scope, tracking their intended performance, and ensuring that they are fully realized by end users.

Benefits Realization: The process of ensuring that the project's end users and stakeholders derive the expected benefits from the project.

Blueprint: A project blueprint defines the scope of the project, the business goals it is meant to achieve, and the broader vision behind it.

Bottleneck: In project management terms, a bottleneck is any constraint that restricts the movement of a process.

Bottom-up Estimating: Another term for Analytical Estimating. With this approach, the project's cost and/or duration are calculated by adding the cost/duration of all its constituent activities. 

Breakdown Structure: A hierarchical structure for decomposing the elements of any entity, usually from "broad" to "narrow" in scope. While Breakdown Structure can refer to Cost Breakdown Structure or Organizational Breakdown Structure, in project management, it usually refers to Work Breakdown Structure (CBS)

Brief: Also called a Creative Brief, this document outlines the core requirements of the project while it is still being conceptualized. Besides requirements, the brief usually also offers a background of the project, its sponsors, and its business case.

Budget: The sum total of all the money allocated for a project.

Budget at Completion (BAC): BAC is the sum total of all budgets established for the work to be performed.

Budget Cost: The cost of the project estimated at the start of the project. Note that the budget cost is not the same as the budget. The latter defines the money allocated for the project, while budget cost is the cost of the project.

Budgeted Cost of Work Performed (BCWP): BCWP defines the total cost of actual work completed to date. 

Budgeted Cost of Work Scheduled (BCWS): BCWS defines the total cost of work scheduled to date. BCWS is considered the baseline and the budget performance is measured against it.

Buffer: In project management terms, buffer is the additional time included in a project schedule to account for any unexpected delays.

Build (stage): In project scheduling, 'Build' is the period when resources actually build or create the deliverable.

Business Case: The business case of a project is the reason for its existence. This document briefly lists the need for the project, its core uses, and its primary benefits.

Business Objectives: The objectives of the business associated with the project. Note that business objectives are not necessarily the same as the project objectives, though the two are aligned.

Business Process Modeling (BPM): The process of defining, detailing, and analyzing business processes in an attempt to improve them. 

Business Requirements: A list of requirements necessary for the project to fulfill the Business Case and be actually beneficial to the business.


Calendar Unit: In a project calendar, the calendar unit is the smallest unit of time by which project duration is measured. In most projects, this unit is 'hour'. In very long or broadly defined projects, the unit can also be 'days'.

Calendars: Usually refers to the Project Calendar, which is a regular calendar showing the schedule of project activities. Projects might additional calendars as well to show resource availability, communication cadence, etc. 

Capability: In project management terms, capability refers to the ability to realize a specific outcome. If you have an in-house design team, for instance, you can say that you have "design capability".

CAPEX: CAPEX stands for Capital Expenditure. CAPEX is any money spent by an organization in acquiring and/or upgrading capital-intensive assets.

Certified Associate in Project Management (CAPM): A certificate in project management basics offered by Project Management Institute (PMI). A CAPM is often a basic requirement for project management roles.

Champion: An informal term for any individual who 'champions' the project and helps it succeed by working intensively with stakeholders and project teams.

Change: Any alteration to the project's scope, deadlines, or deliverables is classified as 'Change'. While minor changes need not be recorded, any substantive change to the project should be documented as a formal Change Request.

Change Authority: The authority (an individual or a group of individuals) who can authorize a change request in a project.

Change Control: The process of documenting, approving and rejecting changes to specific deliverables, deadlines, scope, and benchmarks for a project.

Change Control Board: A formal body within a project management organizational structure tasked with managing project change. All decisions about reviewing, approving, and rejecting changes to a project are handled by the Change Control Board. 

Change Control System: A formal system for managing changes to a project's deliverables, deadlines, and scope.

Change Freeze: The point in a project beyond which change requests cannot be entertained.

Change Log: A formal log documenting all the change requests associated with a project.

Change Request: In project management terms, a Change Request is a formal request to change an aspect of the project, such as the list of deliverables, deadlines, or overall project scope.

Charter: Also called the 'Project Charter', this document outlines all the relationships between stakeholders and project team members. It also identifies decision-making hierarchies and key authorities over different project areas.

Client Brief: Also called a 'Creative Brief', the Client Brief is an initial outline of the project's core requirements, background, and business case. The Client Brief is instrumental in kicking off the project.

Closeout: Also called 'Project Handover', this is the phase when the project is finalized, all deliverables are formally handed over, and the project team is debriefed.

Closure: The formal term for the end of a project.

Code of Accounts: The formal numbering system used for individual components of a Work Breakdown Structure.

Communication: Any communication sent to a stakeholder in a formal capacity. 

Communication Plan: A document outlining the communication strategy for the project, including all stakeholders and their relationship to the project. The communication plan formally lists what is to be communicated, to whom, through which mediums, and at what intervals.

Communications Management Plan: A formal plan that identifies project stakeholders, their preferred communication channels, and what information must be relayed to them at what time. 

Completion Date: The estimated date for the project's end, based on initial planning and current progress.

Conflict Management: The process of managing conflicts between team members, and between team members and project stakeholders.

Conflict Resolution: The process of identifying, addressing, and resolving conflicts between team members and project stakeholders. Conflict resolution is a part of the conflict management plan.

Constraint: In project management terms, a constraint is any factor that limits how the project /can be managed. Thus, a project with a limited budget would be said to have a "budget constraint".

Consumable Resource: Any resource that is only available until it is consumed. A sheet of paper, for instance, is a 'consumable resource' since it won't be available once it has been used. In contrast, a designer is not a consumable resource since they would be available as long as they are employed by the company.

Contingency Plan: A formal plan that details the evasive actions that can be taken in the event of a contingency. 

Contingency Reserve: Additional resources (time as well as money) allocated in the project schedule to tackle a probable contingency. Contingency Reserves are commonly used for projects with known risks.

Control: The process of controlling the project by tracking performance and taking actions to align it with project baselines and intended outcomes.

Corrective Action: A formal action to realign a project's performance and activities with the original project plan.

Cost Baseline: The sum total of approved cost estimates and contingency reserves that serves as the baseline for measuring the project's financial performance.

Cost Breakdown Structure (CBS): A hierarchical organization of the project's budgeted costs. The CBS essentially documents the costs associated with each component of a Work Breakdown Structure (WBS). Thus, its structure mirrors that of the WBS.

Cost Management Plan: A formal plan that identifies and documents the process of tracking, managing, and controlling project costs.

Cost Performance Index (CPI): The ratio of Earned Value (EV) and Actual Cost of a project. CPI is an important measure that helps project teams track the cost efficiency of budgeted resources.

Cost Variance (CV): Cost Variance is the difference between the Earned Value and Actual Cost of the project. If this difference is positive, the project is said to run a budget surplus. Else, the project has a budget deficit.

Cost-benefit Analysis: The process of analyzing all the costs associated with a project (both initial and recurring) and the benefits to be gained from it over the short, medium, and long-term. 

Cost-time Resource Sheet (CTR): This document describes individual elements in the Work Breakdown Structure, including their resource requirements, estimated costs, and delivery timelines.

Crashing: A way to fast track the project by adding resources. Crashing is only used in emergencies or if there are surplus resources available.

Critical Chain Method: A method for scheduling projects with uncertain deadlines and limited resources. In the Critical Chain Method, project managers rely on placing buffers on project schedule paths to make room for unexpected contingencies.

Critical Path: In CPM, the Critical Path identifies the longest path through the project's activities. The combined duration of all activities along this path gives you the minimum duration of the project.

Critical Path Activity: Any activity that lies on the Critical Path of a project schedule.

Critical Path Method: Also called Critical Path Analysis, CPM is an algorithm for scheduling project activities. CPM involves identifying the most important (or "critical") activities necessary to complete the project (i.e. its "critical path"). Estimating the duration of these activities can make it easier to estimate the project's minimum duration.

Current Finish Date: A current, up-to-date estimate of an activity's completion date

Current Start Date: A current, up-to-date estimate of an activity's start date.


Date: Any point in time when the status of a project is recorded

Decision Bias: In project management terms, a Decision Bias is any cognitive or psychological bias that affects individuals when making risk-based decisions.

Decision Tree: A graphical representation of all the available solutions to a problem, created as part of a Decision Tree Analysis.

Decision Tree Analysis: A technique to analyze all the available alternative solutions to a problem and represent them graphically in a 'decision tree'.

Decomposition: Decomposition is the technique of dividing project deliverables or project work into smaller, easier-to-manage constituent parts.

Defect Repair: Action taken to repair or redo any product that does not meet the expected requirements or outcomes of the project.

Definition: The phase in a project lifecycle where project requirements are fleshed out, solutions analyzed, and the initial project plan charted out. 

Deflection: The process of using subcontracts to transfer specific project risks to a third party. If you hire an outside contractor to handle a particularly risky deliverable, you would be deflecting risk to the contractor.

Deliverable: A unique product, service, outcome, document, etc. that is produced as the result of a process, project, or set of activities. Deliverables are the all-important end results of project work. All activity in a project is usually oriented around deliverables

Dependency: The logical relationship between activities in a network diagram. 

Design (stage): The stage during any project where deliverable(s) are designed before they can be built.

Development: In the context of project management, Development is the specific phase in project implementation where an initial preferred solution is developed into an optimized solution.

Deviations: Any shift from the original plan would be classified under 'Deviations'.

Direct Labor: Direct labor is labor that is explicitly meant for a specific activity (or activities) in the project plan. If you hire a freelance designer only for a project, the designer would be clubbed under 'Direct Labor'.

Discrete Effort: Any direct, measurable effort expended to produce a specific component in a Work Breakdown Structure. Discrete Effort has two defining characteristics: it can be planned, and it can be measured. Discrete Effort is crucial for evaluating work performance in Earned Value Management (EVM) methodology.

Drawdown: A Drawdown is the release of project funds at specific intervals, usually coinciding with discrete project phases. Drawdowns help control the project budget.

Dummy Activity: Empty activities used in Arrow Diagramming Method to show the logical relationships between actual project activities.

Duration: The total amount of time necessary to complete any project activity, usually expressed in the project's chosen Calendar Units.

Duration Compression: Reducing the time duration of the project without reducing its scope is called Duration Compression. The two main techniques to achieve this are fast tracking (i.e. completing critical path activities concurrently), and crashing (i.e. allocating additional resources to complete an activity faster).

Dynamic Systems Development Method (DSDM): An agile software development methodology that uses an iterative, incremental approach to project execution. While it's mostly used for software projects, it can also be used for non-software projects.


Early Finish Date: As the name implies, this is the earliest date by which a project activity can logically finish.

Early Start Date: The opposite of Early Finish Date - the earliest date by which a project activity can logically start.

Earned Schedule (ES): Also called Earned Schedule Theory, this is an extension of Earned Value Management (see below) that provides a time component to EVM, instead of just cost. ES is used for schedule analysis and makes it easier to improve both cost and schedule prediction.

Earned Value (EV): Earned Value is a measure of the percent of total budget actually completed (i.e. finished work) at any point in time. Another term for EV is Budgeted Cost of Work Performed (BCWP) - see above.

Earned Value Management: EVM is a project management technique for measuring project performance. EVM is based on comparing work planned (i.e. Planned Value) and work performed (i.e. Earned Value). EVM is a core skill for project managers and is widely deployed in projects across industries.

Effort: Effort is a measure of the total amount of labor (usually measured in hours) necessary to complete a task.

Effort Estimate: An estimate of the amount of Effort (usually calculated in hours) necessary to complete an activity. Effort estimates are based on historical project data, industry standards, and past resource performance.

Effort Management: The process of managing resource effort efficiently by allocating the right resource to the right activities in the project.

Elapsed Time: From any given date, elapsed time is the total number of calendar days (minus weekends and holidays) necessary to complete any activity.

Emergent Change: Any unplanned change that is managed by using undocumented approaches.

End-User: The final users of the project's output. All project decisions should factor in the needs of the end users.

Enhancement, Management, and Upgrade (EMU): A way to categorize projects, especially in the IT industry. Projects categorized as 'Enhancement' are focused on improving the performance or capabilities of an existing product. 'Management' projects are focused on maintaining an existing product. And 'Upgrade' projects focus on upgrading a product to a better version, usually after adding new features.

Enterprise Environmental Factors: Any factors that can impact project performance but are not under the direct control of the project team. These factors can range from the expected (such as interdepartmental conflict within the enterprise) and the unpredictable (such as a bad weather event delaying decision-making for a key deliverable).

Enterprise Modeling: The process of modeling the structure, capabilities, practices, and processes of an organization to better understand its functioning. Enterprise modeling is used both to improve an organization's functioning and to understand its quirks for better project delivery.

Enterprise Project Management Office (EPMO): A dedicated department within an organization that's responsible for the governance of projects, programs, and portfolios across the organization.

Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP): Software used to manage all the elements involved in the running of a business, which includes finance, employees, clients, projects, etc.

Escalation: Escalation is the process of bringing issues to the attention of a higher authority.

Estimate at Completion (EAC): The sum of the project's actual cost (i.e. cost of work performed - ACWP) and estimated cost at completion (ETC).

Estimate to Complete (ETC): A project's ETC is an estimated cost of all the project work that needs to be completed.

Estimation: The process of approximating unknown quantities (such as activity finish date or costs) by using formal estimation techniques.

Event Chain Diagram: A visualization of project events and how they affect each other. An event chain diagram maps both project risks and project events to identify opportunities as well as threats. Event chain diagrams are used in event chain methodology to manage project schedules and control risk.

Event Chain Methodology: A network analysis technique that uses event chains, i.e. events and the relationships between them, to manage project schedules and mitigate project risk.

Exceptions: Any event that causes a deviation from the plan, such as an unexpected change request or project risk.

Execution Phase: The extended phase after project initiation, conception, and planning where the actual project execution takes phase. As far as project delivery is concerned, this is the most important phase in the project lifecycle.

Executive Sponsor: A senior member of any organization who 'sponsors' the project (i.e. makes a case for the project and secures funds for it) and is ultimately responsible for the project's success.

Expediting: The process of accelerating the progress of an activity by removing any obstacles (organizational, financial, or even physical) to its completion. For instance, if you pay extra for faster shipping of a key project component, you are "expediting" its procurement.

External Constraint: Any outside factor that hampers the progress of the project or activity.

External Dependency: Any factor that lies outside the organization and that can affect the outcome of the project or activity. 

External Suppliers: A third party supplier responsible for a key input for any project deliverable. This includes suppliers of physical goods as well as talent.



Facility: In project management terms, 'facility' is the final outcome of a project, or its completed key deliverable.

Factors: Any event that affects the outcome of a project activity, whether external or internal.

Fallback Plan: The Plan B in case of a risk event, provided the primary contingency plan ('Plan A') fails.

Fast Tracking: A technique to reduce the duration of a project by completing some activities on the critical path concurrently instead of consecutively.

Feasibility Study: A process to evaluate the feasibility of the project before initiation. The feasibility study takes into account project requirements, enterprise environmental factors, budget constraints, resource constraints, and key project risks.

Final Account: The account that's responsible for finally closing a contract.

Finish-to-Finish: In Gantt Charts, a Finish-to-Finish relationship means that any successor activity cannot finish before the predecessor activity has finished. 

Finish-to-Finish Lag: The minimum time gap between the finish of one activity and finish of its successor.

Finish-to-Start: In a Finish-to-Start relationship, any successor activity cannot start before the predecessor activity has finished.

Finish-to-Start Lag: The minimum time gap between the finish of one activity and the start of its successor.

Fishbone Diagram: Also called Ishikawa Diagram, a fishbone diagram helps map the various causes of an (usually) undesirable effect. It is called so since the central spine of the effect and the various causes responsible for it resemble a fish skeleton.

Fixed Cost: Any cost that does not depend on the volume of the resource consumed. For example, the cost of buying a computer remains the same, no matter if you use it for 20 hours or 1 hour. Hence, it is a fixed cost.

Fixed Formula Method: A technique used in Earned Value Management (EVM) to calculate Earned Value (EV). With the Fixed Formula Method, a fixed percentage of the EV is unlocked when a work package starts. The rest of the EV unlocks only when the work package ends. There is no unlocking of EV while the work package is actually ongoing.

Fixed Units: If the amount of resource units (typically calculated in hours) for a task is fixed, it is said to be 'Fixed Units'.

Fixed Work: If the amount of effort (work) for a task is fixed, i.e., it can't go beyond the specified amount, it is said to be 'Fixed Work'.

Flow Diagram: A visual representation of work elements and the logical relationship between them, without factoring in the timescale. A flow diagram maps the work packages that need to be completed, not their duration.

Flowchart: A visual representation of any sequence of steps in any process.

Forecast: In project management terms, a forecast is an approximation of a project, activity, or deliverable's cost and budget schedule based on current and historical data.

Forward Pass: In the Critical Path Method, forward pass is a tactic for calculating the early start and early finish dates by working forward through the critical path from any given point in time.

Free Float: Free Float refers to the maximum amount of time by which an activity can be postponed without affecting the early start of any successor activities.

Function: Within an organization, a 'function' refers to any specialist department. Accounting, sales, marketing, IT, etc. are all examples of organizational 'functions'.

Functional Manager: In a functional organization, a functional manager is any manager heading a specialist department. A sales manager, thus, would be a 'functional manager'.

Functional Organization (Structure): An organizational structure where different parts of the organization are grouped together by function or specialization, such as accounting, sales, marketing, etc. In functional organizations, project managers have limited power and must look to functional managers for budgets and approvals.

Functional Requirements: The key requirements that must be met for a product to be usable (i.e., "functional") to end users.

Funding: The process of seeking and securing the budget necessary for undertaking any project.

Future State: The 'Future State' defines the changes in a project or organization after undertaking certain improvements. 


Gantt Chart: A visual representation of all the tasks in a project in the form of a horizontal bar graph. All tasks are listed sequentially and the length of each bar equals the duration of the task. A Gantt Chart is an essential part of any project management process.

Gate: In project management terms, a 'Gate' refers to any point between phases when a decision has to be made about the next stage of the project.

Gate Review: The point in a project's life cycle where the project's progress, goals, requirements, etc. are reviewed and a formal decision is made whether to move further with the project or abandon it.

Go/No Go: Go/No Go are the formal terms for proceeding further with the project (i.e., "Go") or abandoning it (i.e., "No Go") at a decision Gate.

Goal: In project management terminology, a Goal is an objective set of requirements that must be met within the set timeframe for the project to be successful.

Goal Setting: The process of setting achievable, objective, and definable goals for a project, project phase, or even individual resources.

Gold Plating: Gold Plating a project is the process of adding features and capabilities that go beyond the original brief. Gold Plating is usually done to retain unsatisfied customers or create an experience for a new customer.

Governance: A project's governance is the framework which defines the relationships between team members and stakeholders, reporting requirements, and project management practices.

Graphical Evaluation and Review Technique (GERT): An alternative to PERT (Program Evaluation Review Technique). GERT is a network analysis technique that uses arrow-on-activity notation for probabilistic treatment of project activities and activity duration. 

Guarantees: The assurance of quality and/or delivery set by a supplier or contractor. Guarantees are legally enforceable.


Hammock Activity: A project planning term that refers to a group of activities that "hang" between two end dates. Hammock activities are usually used for activities that do not follow any logical or time-based hierarchy. You would typically use it to bundle together dissimilar activities that do not fit elsewhere in a Work Breakdown Structure (WBS).

Handover: In project management terms, 'handover' is when you transfer the project to the end user. 

Hanger: In a network diagram, a hanger is any break that you didn't plan for or anticipate.

Health and Safety Risk Assessment: A risk assessment of the health and safety issues associated with a project and the personnel working on it, followed up with a Health and Safety Plan.

High-Level Requirements: The broad requirements of a project, including its primary goals, target end users, and role within the organization. Think of these as the 'big picture' of the project.

Historical Information: Historical Information' in project management is any past data that is used to inform the planning of the current project. For instance, if you know a specific resource completes a specific activity 2 days ahead of schedule, you can use this 'historical information' when drawing up the project schedule.

Host Organization: Also called 'client organization', this is the organization that's responsible for the overall direction of the project. Typically, the host organization is both the instigator of the project and the recipient of its core benefits. In simpler terms, you might call it a 'client'.

Human Resource Management Plan: The HR management plan documents all the personnel involved in a project, their roles, and the relationships between them. Most project management plans also include an HR management plan.

Hybrid Life Cycle: A project life cycle that combines both agile/iterative and linear life cycle approaches for different parts of the project.

Hypercritical Activities: Any activity in a project schedule that is not given enough time in the project schedule to be completed. Yet, if these activities are not completed, future mission-critical activities cannot proceed. This makes such activities "hypercritical" for the project's progress.



Idea Development: The process of fleshing out any identified opportunities to identify their strengths, weaknesses, and consequences.

Impact: In project management terms, 'impact' is the evaluation of the effect of a risk on the project's outcome. Impact is typically categorized as 'high', 'moderate', or 'low' based on how negatively the risk event would impact the project's final results.

Impact Analysis: The process of evaluating the impact of a risk event on a project, as well as the impact of a chosen remedial course of action.

Implementation Phase: The phase in the project life cycle where the project plan is executed.

Information Distribution: In project management terms, "information distribution" refers to the channels that are used to convey key project information to stakeholders.

Initiation Phase: A phase in the project life cycle that formally marks the beginning of the project. In the Initiation Phase, the project moves from conception towards reality. The project plan, kickoff, and key project documents are created in the Initiation Phase.

Inputs: Key information or materials necessary for implementing a proposed solution in the project.

Inspection: Inspection' refers to the final phase of examining, testing, and reviewing the project's output before it can be formally handed over to the end users.

Integrated Change Control: A project change rarely exists in isolation. Usually, it affects every aspect of the project, from its overall scope and schedule to the final budget and resource requirements. Integrated change control is the process of coordinating and controlling changes across all these aspects of the project.

Integrated Master Plan (IMP): An event-driven project management plan that documents the tasks necessary to complete any project and ties them to project events. IMP is often used by the US Department of Defense and is particularly useful for planning large projects with expansive resource requirements.

Integrated Master Schedule (IMS): The Integrated Master Schedule is the end result of an Integrated Master Plan. This schedule represents all the tasks necessary to complete the project as a time-bound network schedule.

Integration Management Plan: This plan documents the project's approach to integration planning and change management.

Integration Planning: The process of integrating all the discrete parts of the project. Integration Planning also includes managing and integrating any changes in the project's scope, schedule, or budget.

Interdependencies: The interdependencies between projects in a portfolio or program management.

Ishikawa Diagram: Another name for 'fishbone diagram'. The Ishikawa diagram is used to map an effect and its root causes.

Issue: An 'issue' in project management is any hurdle that impacts a project activity or even the entire project. The term 'issue' is usually reserved for large or complex problems that cannot be solved by an individual resource alone.

Issue Log: A log of all the issues encountered in a project, as well as their current status, timeline for resolution, and resources responsible for managing them.

Issue Management: The process of identifying, logging, and resolving issues before they can pose a threat to the project.

Issue Register: Another name for an issue log - a document listing all the issues encountered during a project, their impact, and the remedial course of action.

Iteration: Iteration, in project management, is the concept of gradually developing an end product over time. In an iterative approach to project management, the project is broken down into small sub-sections ('sprints' in software development) that are bound by time rather than scope. In each section, a part of the end product is developed within the time frame. This approach works best when the requirements are ever-changing and the end product is not completely known.

Iterative Development: The development approach that uses the concept of iteration outlined above. In iterative development, projects are broken down into time-bound sub-sections. At the end of each sub-section, the project's progress is analyzed and remedial steps, if any, are taken in the subsequent sub-section.


Joint Venture: A partnership between any two or more organizations or individuals for the joint ownership, execution, or management of a venture or project.

Just In Time (JIT): The concept of creating and distributing goods, services, and raw materials right when they are needed instead of storing and distributing them gradually. This approach is frequently used in manufacturing to minimize inventory management.



Kanban: A visual project management approach that uses columns of cards for different task categories. As the project progresses, cards are moved from one column to another, visually signifying progress. Nowadays, kanban is mostly used through online tools.

Key Events: Important events in the project that signify clear project progress. Accomplishing key events within planned budget and timeframe is crucial for successful projects.

Key Milestone: An important milestone in the project that signifies clear progress in in project completion.

Key Performance Indicator (KPI): A key metric that can be used to measure progress on the project. Most projects are optimized around KPIs.

Kickoff Meeting: Also simply called "kickoff", this is the first meeting between the project team and the client or key stakeholders. The kickoff meeting presents an opportunity for the two teams to know each other and to define roles and relationships.

Knowledge Management: The process of collecting, curating and organizing the knowledge created by an organization. 



Lag: Between two sequential activities, lag is the total time by which a successor activity can be delayed with respect to the predecessor activity without impacting the project schedule.

Late Finish Date: A term used in the Critical Path Method (CPM). Late Finish Date is the latest date a schedule activity can finish without delaying the finish of the project.

Late Start Date: The latest date a schedule activity can start without impacting the finish of the project.

Lead: Between two sequential activities, lead is the total time by which a successor activity can be moved with respect to the predecessor activity without impacting the project schedule.

Lean: "Lean" is an approach towards project management that prioritizes minimizing waste and maximizing value. Lean Project Management emerged from Lean Manufacturing principles pioneered by Toyota. A "lean" approach focuses on optimizing resource utilization, improving productivity, and minimizing wasteful activities.

Lean Six Sigma: An approach (to project management, manufacturing, or software development) that utilizes both the minimal-waste approach of Lean Management with the minimal-defects approach of Six Sigma.

Lessons Learned: In project management terms, 'lessons learned' refers to the knowledge gained during the course of the project that can be utilized in future projects for improving overall project planning and execution.

Letter of Intent (LoI): A 'Letter of Intent' is exactly what it sounds like - a formal letter expressing clear intent to sign a contract or initiate a project. An LoI is usually the final step before starting a project.

Level of Effort (LOE): Level of Effort (LOE) in project management is any support-type activity that must be performed to support project work activities. LOE activities don't create a deliverable. For example, communicating with a stakeholder to relay important project updates is a Level of Effort activity. It does not create a deliverable, but interfaces with stakeholders to create the deliverable itself.

Level One Plan: The broad master plan for a project is also called the 'level one plan'.

Life Cycle: The life Cycle' in project management defines a set of discrete high-level stages necessary for transforming an idea into reality in an orderly fashion. A project life cycle moves from initial conception to rough plan to final execution and delivery.

Life Cycle Cost: The total cost of a project over its entire life cycle.

Logic Network: A visual representation of project activities and the relationships between them, organized chronologically.

Logical Dependency: The dependency between two activities in a logical relationship.

Logical Relationship: A 'logical relationship' refers to any dependency between two activities in a network schedule, such as 'finish-to-start', 'start-to-finish', etc.



Make or Buy Decision: The decision to either make a deliverable in-house or buy something off-the-shelf from a supplier.

Management by Exception: A management approach that prioritizes self-management and steps in only to manage critical areas.

Management Process: Management process is the broad term used for the planning, execution, and monitoring of projects to meet a defined goal or objective.

Management Reserve: Additional reserve of money or time kept aside to resolve unexpected issues, to be used at the project manager's discretion (provided it has been approved by a higher authority). This is not the same as a contingency reserve, which is kept aside for known issues. 

Master Project: A collective term for all the project's documents and files. A master project will usually be broken down into smaller constituent sub-projects.

Material: Material, in project management, is any resource (physical or virtual) that will be used in creating project deliverables.

Matrix Organization: An organizational structure in which resources are co-managed by the project manager and the functional manager. In a matrix organization, resources report to multiple bosses, with each line of reporting tied to different aspects of the organization or the project. For instance, in a sales project, a resource might report to the project manager as well as the sales manager. 

Maturity Model: An organization's maturity model is an assessment of its processes, practices, and methods in terms of their standardization and optimization. A mature organization has a high degree of standardization. A maturity model helps to map this standardization and compare it to external benchmarks to gauge the overall maturity and sophistication of the organization. 

Mediation: A dispute settlement approach that utilizes a third-party (i.e., the mediator) to find common grounds between two disputing parties without involving legal channels.

Megaproject: A large, complex project with extensive resource and time requirements. Megaprojects typically tackle problems with no standardized solution and involve several stakeholders. A large dam is an example of a 'megaproject'.

Merge Point: In a network diagram, a marge point is any point at which multiple activities converge into a single successor activity. Merge points are important events in the project schedule since the successor activity cannot start until all the predecessor activities have finished.

Method: A 'method' is any framework for carrying out project activities. Different organizations will have their own 'methods' for executing projects.

Method Statement: A document describing the organization's Method for executing the project.

Methods and Procedures: A collective term for all the practices used for planning, executing, and delivering the project.

Milestone: A milestone marks the completion of an important event in the project's progress. Meeting milestones on time and under budget is a key goal for project managers.

Milestone Schedule: A schedule of all the milestones associated with the project, organized chronologically.

Mission Statement: A short, succinct description of the key goals of an organization or project. Mission statements offer direction to the organization or project's resources.

Monitoring: The process of collecting and analyzing project performance data and comparing it to the original plan in order to take any corrective action, if necessary.

Monte Carlo Simulation: A computer-based technique of mapping all the possible outcomes of a process and the likelihood of each occurring. Monte Carlo simulations are typically used to aid decision-making in the presence of uncertainty.

MoSCoW: A prioritization technique for organizing the top requirements for any project. This technique helps project managers identify and communicate the highest priority objectives for the project. The MoSCoW acronym stands for "Must Have", "Should Have", "Could Have", and "Won't Have".

Most Likely Duration: An estimate of the amount of time any activity would take to finish, i.e., its most likely duration.

Motivation: In project management terms, motivation defines the individual goals that drive a resource. An effective project manager ties the resource's activities to their motivations.

Murphy's Law: The adage "Anything that can go wrong will go wrong". While not an actual rule, this adage is used as a risk management tool to mitigate unforeseen issues.



Near-Critical Activity: Float, in project management, is the amount of time an activity can be delayed without delaying any successor activities. A near-critical activity is any activity that has minimum float, i.e. it cannot be delayed substantially without becoming critical. Completing near-critical activities on schedule is crucial for successful projects.

Near-Critical Path: A series of near-critical activities make up the near-critical path. If there is no float in the project, the near-critical path becomes the critical path.

Need, Problem or Opportunity: Projects exist to fulfill any need, fix any problem, or take advantage of an opportunity. Need, Problem or Opportunity, thus, defines the core reasons for undertaking the project.

Negative Variance: Negative Variance is the amount of time or money by which a project is underperforming the original estimate. A project in negative variance means that it is taking longer and/or costing more than expected. This makes negative variance an important measure of project performance.

Negotiation: The process of resolving issues between two parties through dialog.

Network Analysis: The process of using different techniques (including Critical Path, Critical Chain, etc.) to analyze a network diagram.

Network Diagram: A visual representation of all the activities along with their dependencies that make up the project. A network diagram is a critical tool for project scheduling.

Network Path: A series of logically connected activities in a network diagram make up the Network Path.

Node: In project management terms, a node stands for any number of defining points in the network diagram. In activity-on-arrow diagrams, nodes represent project stages. In activity-on-node network diagrams, nodes signify project activities.

Non-recurring Costs: A one-time expense to fulfill the requirements of a specific activity or group of activities. Buying a printer, for instance, is a non-recurring cost, while buying the paper used in it is a recurring cost.

Nonlinear Management: The opposite of traditional linear management. In contrast to the top-down approach of linear management, nonlinear management focuses on developing flexible solutions to changing problems. This management approach works best in projects where the requirements and risks are ill-defined.

Not Earlier Than: The 'Not Earlier Than' date of an activity is the date before which the activity can't start or end. Usually, such activities have dependencies that must be fulfilled by the Not Earlier Than date for the activity to start.

Not Later Than: The 'Not Later Than' date of an activity is the final date by which the activity can start or end.


Objective: The 'objective' of an activity is a short statement defining what the activity is meant to achieve.

Operational Life: The part of the project life cycle where deliverables are handed over to end-users for operations and maintenance. This phase is a part of the extended project life cycle.

Operations (Phase): The phase of the project where deliverables are handed over and put to use (i.e., made 'operational').

Operations and Maintenance: The post-execution stage of the project where the core activity switches to operating and maintaining the project, usually by the end-user's team.

Operations Management: The process of organizing, optimizing, and managing the operations of an organization. The goal of operations management is to make the business more efficient while minimizing waste and maximizing impact.

Operations Research: Operations Research is the science of using mathematical models and statistical analysis to aid decision-making. Large organizations have dedicated Operations Research departments that use scientific methods to guide the organization's operations management.

Opportunity: In project management terms, an 'opportunity' is anything (tangible or otherwise) that can have a positive effect on a project deliverable.

Opportunity Cost: Opportunity cost is the loss of potential gains from all the alternative courses of action compared to your current course of action.

Optimistic Duration: An activity's 'optimistic duration' is the least amount of time it would take to complete the activity. The optimistic duration is the best-case scenario for the activity and is not a realistic estimate.

Optimizing: In any maturity model, 'optimizing' is the fifth and final phase where the project/organization/process is improved by gathering feedback and implementing prioritized changes.

Optioneering: A problem-solving approach that focuses on surveying the entire domain of solutions and offering stakeholders different 'options' to resolve their problems.

Order of Magnitude Estimate: An early estimate of the project's duration and budget, made using historical data. Order of magnitude estimates are usually offered at the project conception stage to give stakeholders a broad understanding of the project's requirements. These are not accurate and should only be taken as a broad estimate, +-50-100 percent of the end figures.

Organization: Any formal collection of individuals with a shared purpose. Organizations can be businesses, charities, associations, etc.

Organization Development: A broad term for all the activities carried out to analyze and improve the organization's performance, prestige, and productivity. Organization development covers operations as well as resource-focused activities such as employee satisfaction, organization culture, etc.

Organizational Breakdown Structure (OBS): A hierarchical breakdown of all the different units and departments that make up an organization, their activities, and the relationships between them.

Organizational Culture: Organizational culture' defines all the written and unwritten rules that guide any organization's beliefs, attitudes, and behaviors.

Organizational Enabler: Organizational enabler is anything (skills, resources, knowledge, tools, etc.) that helps the organization perform better and achieve its goals faster.

Organizational Planning: The process of defining all the roles, their hierarchical organization, and the relationships between them in an organization.

Organizational Process Assets: The sum total of all the plans, processes, and practices used by an organization, both tangible and intangible. These 'assets' might be written down plans or they might be implicit knowledge gained over time. For knowledge organizations, organizational process assets form the foundation of their competitive advantage.

Organizational Project Management: The process of efficiently managing projects, programs, and portfolios across the organization, especially with regard to the organization's core objectives. The core goal of organizational project management is to ensure that the organization's project activities are aligned with its original objectives.

Organizational Project Management Maturity: A measure of the maturity of the organization's project management approaches. This maturity-level is typically measured using the OPM3 model (Organizational Project Management Maturity Model) where ad-hoc processes are classified as 'immature' and standardized practices are 'mature'.

Organizational Roles: Organizational roles' defines the different roles performed by individuals in a project or organization. Mature organizations have strictly defined roles so as to minimize conflict and wasteful work.

Original Budget: The budget first established at project initiation. The project's financial performance is often measured against the Original Budget.

Original Decision: The overall duration first established at project initiation.

Out-of-Sequence Progress: Any activity that is reported as 'completed' even when its predecessor activities have not completely finished. That is, the activity was finished out of sequence.

Outcome: The end-product of utilizing an output produced through the project's activities. Essentially, outcome is the result of putting the project's deliverables to use, and it can be either positive or negative.

Output: In project management terms, output is the end result of any process or activity.

Overall Change Control: The process of managing change across the project. 

Overhead: All the costs incurred in running the organization that can't be tied to any specific project. Rent, electricity, heating bills, etc. are examples of overhead.

Overrun: Any cost incurred beyond the approved budget (usually in fixed fee contracts) is called 'overrun'.

Owner: A project's owner is the organization, individual or group of individuals who are primarily responsible for initiating the project, and who will primarily realize its core benefits.



P3 Assurance: P3' stands for 'projects, programs, and portfolios'. P3 assurance is satisfying stakeholders that these "3P's" are on track to meet requirements and objectives.

P3 Management: The collective and holistic management of projects, programs, and portfolios.

P3 Management Team: The primary team involved in managing the 3Ps - projects, programs, and portfolios. 

Parallel Activities: Any activities that can be done at the same time (i.e., in parallel) are classified as 'parallel activities'.

Parallel Life Cycle: A project life cycle approach where parts of the project are carried out simultaneously.

Parametric Estimating: The process of using historical data to establish relationships between variables, and using this data to create time and budget estimates. For example, if you use historical data to deduce the time and money required to construct 1 sqft of a house, you can use it to estimate the cost of building a 2,500 sq ft house.

Pareto Diagram/Chart: A type of combination bar and line graph. The bars are arranged vertically and represent the individual values of the described variable in descending order. The line graph, overlaid on top of the vertical bars, shows the cumulative sum of the variable.

Partnering: Partnering, as opposed to a legal 'partnership', is the act of working with another organization to jointly work on a contract. Partnering is not the same as 'partnership' which implies a legal alliance, instead of just an ad-hoc, project-specific alliance. 

Path Convergence: Path divergence occurs in a network diagram when an activity has more than one successors. That is, it's a point where multiple project paths diverge.

Path Divergence: Path convergence occurs in a network diagram when an activity has more than one predecessor. That is, it's a point where multiple paths converge.

Payback: In project management terms, 'payback' is the amount of time required to earn back the initial investment from an asset. Say, if you bought a printer for $365 and sell $1 worth of prints every day, you would have a 'payback period' of 365 days.

Percent Complete: The amount of work completed of an activity in relation to the total amount of work to be done at any point in time, expressed as a percent.

Performance: Performance, in project management terms, describes the quality of the project's output vis-a-vis its adherence to original budget, schedule, and requirements.

Performance Management: The collective term for all the techniques used in managing the performance of individuals and teams involved in any project.

Performance Measurement Baseline: A combination of the budget, scope, and schedule baseline used to measure the performance of the project.

Performance Reporting: The process of reporting the project's current performance and future forecasts to relevant stakeholders.

Performing Organization: In projects involving multiple organizations, the performing organization is the organization responsible for undertaking the majority of the project's activities.

Pessimistic Duration: The worst case scenario of an activity's duration, i.e. the longest amount of time it would take to finish. Pessimistic duration is used alongside Optimistic duration to get a more realistic estimate of the activity's duration.

PEST Analysis: A risk assessment technique that focuses on analyzing Political, Economic, Social, and Technological factors that might affect a project.

PESTLE: An extension of PEST analysis. Apart from Political, Economic, Social, and Technological risks, this technique also includes Legal and Environmental risks to the project, which makes it more comprehensive.

Phase: A 'phase' in project management is a large, logical subdivision of the project. 'Initiation', 'Execution', 'Planning' are examples of phases.

Phase Gate: A point at the end of a project phase where a decision about the rest of the project is taken. 

Phase Reviews: The point at the end of a phase where project performance is reviewed and a decision is taken whether to proceed or not. Another term for Gate Reviews.

Physical Performance: The performance of any project work that can be physically measured, such as the number of widgets produced/hour.

Pilot: A small scale implementation of the project's end product to test its viability, capabilities, or functioning before it is fully released to end users.

Planned Activity: Any activity on the work schedule that hasn't yet started is a 'planned activity'.

Planned Cost: The total cost of the project as per the project plan. Planned Cost is also called Budgeted Cost of Work Scheduled (BCWS).

Planned Value: Also called 'budgeted cost of work scheduled' (BCWS), 'Planned Value' is the cost of all the work in the planned work schedule. This is the baseline figure against which the actual budget performance is measured.

Planning: A broad term for charting the course of any future activity in an organized manner. 

Planning Phase: The phase early in the project life cycle where all project planning related activities are carried out. Everything from the communications plan to the master plan is created in this phase. At the end of the planning phase, you would ideally have a clear idea of the project's goals and how you'll go about achieving them.

Planning Poker: A technique for estimating effort required to meet project goals, typically used in software projects. The technique attempts to avoid the anchoring cognitive bias (where the first figure spoken tends to become a baseline) by forcing group members to present their estimates through numbered cards, laid face-down. Since the initial estimates are hidden, the group can arrive at an estimate that's more accurate. Sometimes, this technique is also called 'Scrum Poker'.

Portfolio: The project management term for a collection of projects and programs.

Portfolio Balancing: The process of selecting and organizing an organization's portfolios so as to better divert resources to them. Portfolio balancing is used to ensure that the present state of projects in the portfolio are aligned with the broader goals of the organization.

Portfolio Charter: A portfolio charter documents the organizational structure of the portfolio, including the management team and its hierarchy, and the broader goals of the organization.

Portfolio Management: The process of organizing and managing all the portfolios spread across the organization.

Portfolio Manager: The person responsible for managing one or more portfolios and ensuring that they are aligned with the organization's objectives. 

Portfolio, Program, and Project Management Maturity Model (P3M3): A maturity model for evaluating the maturity of projects, programs, and portfolios in an organization. The more standardized and optimized each of these components are, the more mature the organization's management approach.

Positive Variance: Positive Variance is the amount of time or money by which the project's performance is better than planned performance. Positive variance essentially means that the project is over-performing its budget and/or delivery estimates.

PRAM: PRAM stands for Project Risk Analysis and Management, the Association for Project Management's (APM) official guide to managing project risks.

Precedence Diagramming Method (PDM): A technique to visualize the project's activities and the relationships between them. The end result of the Precedence Diagramming Method (PDM) is an arrow-on-activity network diagram where nodes represent activities and arrows represent the dependencies between activities.

Precedence Network: A precedence network is created as a result of the PDM (see above). This network visually represents project activities and the relationships between them.

Predecessor Activity: Any activity that logically comes immediately before the current activity.

Preventive Action: A proactive step taken to mitigate any future project risk event. Preventive action is the opposite of corrective action, in that it is proactive while the latter is reactive.

PRINCE2: PRINCE2 stands for 'Projects in Controlled Environments, version 2'. This is a project management methodology that focuses on strong upfront planning and organizing clear project roles and responsibilities. PRINCE2 advocates a more hands-off management approach where projects are managed only when necessary.

Prioritize: The formal term for organizing projects in a portfolio based on their resource requirements, objectives, financial goals, etc.

PRiSM: PRiSM stands for 'Projects Integrating Sustainable Methods'. PRiSM is a sustainability-focused project management methodology that focuses on minimizing negative impact to the environment and society as a whole. This methodology is frequently used when dealing with projects that might have an outsized negative environmental impact.

Probability and Impact Matrix: A matrix used for organizing projects risks on the probability of their occurrence and their impact on the project performance.

Problem: A problem in project management is a specific issue that must be resolved for the project to move forward. Problems are captured in problem statements.

Problem Statement: A short, succinct statement about any problem that needs to be solved. Problem statements are necessary for identifying problems are organizing efforts to resolve them.

Process: Any sequence of events with predictable inputs and outputs can be called a 'process'. Processes are repeatable and can be standardized, making them crucial for scaling any organizational effort.

Process Architecture: A collection of processes is called a 'process system'. Everything that makes up this system - activities, components, relationships, etc. - make up the process architecture. Mapping out the process architecture is usually the first step in optimizing any process system.

Process Management: The process of documenting, organizing, standardizing, and optimizing any process (or set of processes) to improve their efficiency is called 'process management'.

Procurement: Procurement is the process of acquiring services, goods, and raw materials from third party sources for use in the project.

Procurement Management Plan: A plan documenting the approach for acquiring (i.e., procuring) outside resources necessary for completing the project.

Procurement Strategy: The overall high-level strategy used for procuring goods, services, and raw materials for the organization's projects, programs, and portfolios. The purpose of the procurement strategy is to minimize waste and improve margins by leveraging the collective requirements of all the organization's undertakings. For instance, if five projects across the organization require Widget A, procuring them at the same time can cut costs instead of buying them as needed.

Product: The end result or outcome of a project. A product can be tangible or intangible. A single project can lead to one or more products at close.

Product Breakdown Structure (PBS): A list of project deliverables, organized in a hierarchical form.

Product Description: A 'product' is any deliverable created as part of the project. A product description defines the product, its key requirements, and the goals it is meant to accomplish.

Product Life Cycle: A product-focused project life cycle that adds 'operation' and 'termination' phases to a standard linear life cycle. Since the product life cycle covers the product's operation as well, it leads to a deeper involvement from the organization in the project's long-term results.

Product Verification: The process of evaluating any product (i.e., deliverable) to ensure that it meets the requirements established in the product description.

Professional Development Unit (PDU): One-hour blocks of time spent learning, teaching, or volunteering to ensure that project managers retain their PMI certification.

Profile of Expenditure: A forecast of the project's expenditure over time.

Program: Any set of projects managed collectively (i.e., the same team oversees multiple projects within the program).

Program Benefits Review: The stage at the end of a program where the program's performance is evaluated to see if it met its original goals.

Program Brief: A document describing the program's objectives, requirements, and the key capabilities the organization seeks to achieve through the program.

Program Charter: A formal document that identifies the team associated with the program, management hierarchies, and authorizes the use of identified resources to meet the program's goals.

Program Director: The program director is the manager responsible for the overall success of the program. Unlike the program manager, the program director oversees the program's high-level strategy and interfaces with senior stakeholders.

Program Evaluation and Review Technique (PERT): PERT is a technique to estimate the duration of activities in any project by calculating optimistic, pessimistic, and realistic activity duration.

Program Management: The process of managing programs and aligning them with the broader goals of the organization.

Program Manager: The individual responsible for managing a program (or more rarely, multiple programs) and ensuring that they align with the organization's goals. Project managers of projects within the program report to the program manager.

Program Mandate: The program mandate outlines the core objectives of the program in terms of the new capabilities and benefits it seeks to achieve.

Progress Analysis: The process of assessing the current progress of an activity, deliverable, or overall project and evaluating it against the benchmark performance.

Progress Payments: Payments made to a third-party contractor when certain predetermined project progress goals are met. For instance, you might release 25% of the payment when 25% of the work is completed, 50% payments for 50% work completed, and so on.

Progress Reports: A report shared with senior project personnel outlining the core achievements of the project so far, the status of key deliverables, and open issues, if any.

Progressive Elaboration: Project plans are rarely, if ever, complete at project initiation. Instead, project managers regularly revisit the project plans and update them with new information as the project unfolds. This process is called 'progressive elaboration'.

Project: A project is any undertaking with specific objectives that results in a unique output. Anything can be a 'project', provided it has clear success requirements, specific resource demands, and well-defined deliverables.

Project Accounting: All financial aspects of any project fall under 'project accounting'. The goal of project accounting is to evaluate the current financial progress of the project against established benchmarks, and to take stock of all project expenses.

Project Baseline: The initial benchmark of project performance (with respect to budget and duration) established during the Initiation phase. The project baseline can be used to evaluate the performance of the project.

Project Calendar: The project calendar shows the working and nonworking time for different project tasks.

Project Charter: A formal document that outlines the project's scope, objectives, individual roles and their hierarchies. The charter essentially gives the project manager the authority to use the organization's resources to meet the project's objectives.

Project Definition: A less frequently used term for 'Project Charter'. This document formally outlines the scope of the project, its key objectives, and all the personnel involved. The Project Definition essentially authorizes the project manager to use the organization's resources to meet the project's goals.

Project Initiation: See Initiation above.

Project Initiation Document (PID): The Project Initiation Document is created at project initiation to outline the core requirements of the project and the initial plan. This document is used as a reference for future project planning and execution.

Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK): The official name for the collection of project management guidelines, standards, and definitions maintained by the Project Management Institute (PMI). This is the core guide to follow if you want to become a certified Project Management Professional (PMP).

Project Management Office: A dedicated department or office within an organization that deals with all project management activities. The goal of the PMO is to establish standards, track performance, and optimize processes to meet the organization's goals more efficiently.

Project Management Professional (PMP): An official certification granted by the Project Management Institute (PMI). A PMP is often a core requirement for several formal project management jobs.

Project Management Simulators: A software program that simulates a specific type of project. The goal of the simulation is to give aspiring project managers practice on running a real world project without the risks associated with an actual project.

Project Management Software: Any software tool used in project management to make planning, scheduling, or execution easier. Project management software can range greatly in capabilities, depth, and use-cases. 

Project Management Team: All personnel involved in managing the project are a part of the project management team.

Project Management Triangle: A visual tool to illustrate the constraints of project management. The three vertices of the triangle are formed by the project's scope, cost, and schedule. Changing any one of these quantities also changes the other (changing the scope, for instance, changes the cost and deadline).

Project Manager: The person responsible for planning, managing, tracking, reporting, and closing the project. Project managers have formal authority over the project (as per the Project Charter) and work with all stakeholders to ensure that the project becomes successful. 

Project Network: A network diagram showing all the activities in a project and the relationships between them.

Project Office: A department or office within the organization that supports all project management efforts. These efforts can range from offering simple office support duties to high-level strategic interfacing with senior leaders.

Project Organization (Structure): An organizational structure that prioritizes project managers over functional managers. Instead of grouping the organization's operations around functions (such as IT, Finance or Sales), a project organization organizes them around projects.

Project Performance Indicators: Key metrics used to track the project's performance. The specific metrics can vary from organization to organization and project to project. Most, however, track the project's costs and deadlines.

Project Phase: A broad but distinct stage in the project life cycle is called 'Project phase'.

Project Plan: A core document in project management that covers the project's requirements, objectives, and execution. The project plan has to be formally approved by all the stakeholders, project manager, and sponsor(s). The project plan might include domain-specific sub plans that cover areas such as communication, human resources, etc.

Project Planning (phase): A distinct phase in the project life cycle where the project plan is finalized.

Project Portfolio Management: A portfolio management approach that aims to organize and optimize projects within a portfolio (or several portfolios) to better meet the organization's objectives. Shuffling projects between portfolios so that they can use common resources, rescheduling and reprioritizing projects, working with senior executives to meet organizational demands - all of this comes under the purview of project portfolio management (PPM).

Project Risk: Any event that can negatively affect the outcome of the project is classified as 'project risk'.

Project Risk Management: The process of evaluating potential project risks, analyzing their impact on the project, and taking corrective and preventive actions to mitigate their damage to the project.

Project Scope Management: The process of managing the project's scope and limiting unnecessary, expensive, or undesirable scope changes.

Project Scope Statement: The project scope statement outlines the core objectives and requirements of the project, including its primary deliverables. The scope statement is the project's guiding star and plays a crucial role in project planning.

Project Sponsor: The individual(s) or organization that sponsors the project and is, thus, responsible for bringing it to life. The project sponsor plays a crucial role in the success of the project, from acquiring resources to managing stakeholders.

Project Stakeholders: In project management terms, a stakeholder is anyone who has an interest in the outcome of the project. Stakeholders can be internal (such as the organization managing the project), external (such as a client), and third-party (such as a journalist or vendor).

Project Support Experts: Any individual or group of individuals who can offer targeted expertise in specific project support activities such as cost management, budget planning, etc.

Project Team: The core team responsible for the project. The makeup of this team is highly flexible and depends entirely on the project and its scope. Large teams usually have sector specific leaders (such as 'design leader' or 'development leader'), as well as an overall 'project leader' who reports to the project manager.

Project Tiers: Tiering' is the process of segmenting projects into different categories to determine their requirements and efforts involved. Project Tiers depend entirely on the organization and its past experience running similar projects. For example, a design agency that gets a brand new project for a high-value client might label it as a 'Tier 0'. Another project that requires formulaic work for an existing small client might get a 'Tier 3' rating.

Project Variance: Any deviation from the baseline cost and/or schedule (both positive and negative) is called project variance.

Projectized Organization: A 'projectized organization' is an organization that has prioritized projects in its organizational structure. In other words, the organization's business is broken down into projects, programs, and portfolios. 

Proof of Concept: A minimally functional product developed to test the viability of the project. A proof of concept is usually created to evaluate the feasibility of an idea. It can also be used to assuage an apprehensive end-user or sponsor that the project can be successful.

Proport: In project management terms, 'proport' defines the entire breadth of skills of the team involved in the project. Essentially, the 'proport' is the skills the project manager has available to meet the project's goals. If the manager requires any skills outside the proport, he/she has to acquire them from outside vendors.

Punch List: In project management terms, the punch list is all the outstanding tasks that need to be completed before the deliverables can be accepted by the end-users.


Qualitative Risk Analysis: The process of analyzing risks on a qualitative basis. That is, instead of quantifying risk events, qualitative risk analysis focuses on the probability of risk events occuring and their estimated impact on the project. The outcome of qualitative risk analysis is a risk assessment matrix where risks are categorized based on their impact and probability. Qualitative risk analysis focuses on "big picture" threats instead of the specific impact on scope, budget, schedule, etc. covered by quantitative risk analysis.

Quality: Quality, in project management terms, is a measure of how well a deliverable matches the requirements (objective or subjective) set by stakeholders. A "high-quality" product is one that closely matches the requirements.

Quality Assurance: Quality Assurance is a set of best practices for monitoring and measuring the 'quality' of a deliverable.

Quality Assurance Plan: See Quality Management Plan.

Quality Audit: The process of examining a deliverable to test whether it meets established quality criteria and standards.

Quality Control: Quality Control refers to a set of best practices for managing the quality of project deliverables. Quality Control not only focuses on monitoring and measuring deliverable quality but also on taking corrective actions when necessary or suggesting steps to optimize the quality.

Quality Criteria: Specific requirements that a deliverable must meet to pass the 'quality' test.

Quality Guide: The collective knowledge used by people involved in quality control, audit, assessment, and management to ensure that deliverables meet required quality criteria.

Quality Management Plan: A part of the project plan that outlines the quality expectations established by the stakeholders and the approach for monitoring, measuring, and managing them.

Quality Planning: Identifying quality standards expected from a deliverable and developing plans to meet them comes under the domain of 'quality planning'.

Quality Review: An assessment of the product's current 'quality' against established requirements or benchmarks.

Quality, Cost, Delivery: A deliverable-focused management approach that focuses on maximizing quality, minimizing cost, and optimizing delivery timelines. The goal of QCD is to align decision-making along these three core metrics.

Quantitative Risk Analysis: An objective risk assessment process that focuses on using historical data and benchmarks to assign hard numbers to risk events. Thus, while qualitative risk analysis results in broad estimations of risk events and their impact on the project, quantitative risk analysis offers fixed numbers (such as "40% chance of risk occurring and leading to 10-day delay").



RACI Chart: RACI stands for 'Responsible, Accountable, Consulted, and Informed'. A RACI chart is essentially a matrix that categorizes stakeholders based on their involvement with the project (i.e., whether they have to be responsible, accountable, consulted, or informed about an activity). RACI charts are created early in the project planning phase and play an important role in managing project communication.

RAID Log: RAID stands for 'Risks, Assumptions, Issues, and Dependencies'. In project management, a RAID log documents all issues pertaining to the above four RAID categories encountered during the project. RAID logs are maintained to develop an organization's risk register (see below) and gather data for optimizing future projects.

Rapid Application Development: A project management approach that focuses on flexible adaptive processes instead of detailed upfront planning. This approach is primarily used in software development. As an umbrella term, Rapid Application Development can refer to any number of adaptive approaches to managing projects, or it can refer to a specific variant of RAD pioneered by James Martin at IBM.

Reactive Risk Response: The action(s) to be taken in the event of a risk occurrence.

Recurring Costs: Any repetitive expenditure is dubbed a 'recurring cost'. Taking your car for annual maintenance checkups would be an example of a recurring cost.

Reduce: To reduce risk is to take measures to either avoid its occurrence (i.e., Risk Avoidance) or to mitigate its impact (i.e., Risk Mitigation).

Relationship: In project management terms, the logical connection between two activities is called a 'relationship'.

Release: Release, in the context of software development, is a stable version of a piece of software that's available to end users.

Remaining Duration: The project management term for the time remaining in an activity.

Remote Team: Any team that does not share the same physical space and works primarily through online means is said to be a "remote team". Remote teams can be located in different office buildings in the same city, in different cities, or even in different countries.

Repeatable: Repeatable is a term used in process management to describe any process that can be 'repeated' reliably with predictable outcomes. Creating repeatable processes is crucial for scalability.

Replenishable Resource: A resource that can be replenished when needed. Replenishable resources are typically easily obtainable.

Request for Change (RFC): A formal change request. Changes requested through a RFC are typically broad in scope and sometimes can even change the character of the project outright.

Request for Proposal (RFP): A formal request for expression of interest from prospective sellers of goods or services. A RFP is usually the first step in establishing an agency-client relationship.

Request for Quotation (RFQ): A follow-up to an RFP, a Request for Quotation is a bid document requesting cost estimations from vendors shortlisted after the RFP.

Requirements: In project management terms, requirements are conditions that a deliverable must meet before it can be accepted by stakeholders. Meeting requirements is essentially the goal of any project.

Requirements Management Plan: The Requirements Management Plan documents the project's requirements and their management, monitoring, and delivery.

Requirements Traceability Matrix (RTM): A document that helps project managers track whether the requirements are being fulfilled successfully. An RTM usually includes a detailed list of requirements, along with test cases and verification for each requirement.

Reserve: Time or money kept aside to respond to an unplanned event during the course of the project. 'Reserve' is the same as 'Contingency' (see above).

Residual Risk: Risk events that cannot be directly controlled or mitigated by the project team are classified under 'residual risk'. Residual risk is usually associated with risk events outside the scope of the project, such as global political or environmental risks.

Residual Value: The value of a resource after usage at any point of time in the project. This is an important metric to determine the financial feasibility of the project.

Resource: In project management terms, a resource is any element that's used to complete the project. In colloquial terms, however, 'resources' has typically come to stand for human resources, especially among people-driven project organizations such as agencies.

Resource Allocation: The process of allocating resources for different project activities. Resource Allocation is one of the core responsibilities of a project manager. Assigning the right resource to the right activity at the right time is instrumental in running successful projects.

Resource Availability: Whether a particular resource is available at a particular time for a particular activity.

Resource Breakdown Structure (RBS): A breakdown of all the resources required for a project.

Resource Calendar: A calendar that tracks resource activity over a period of time.

Resource Leveling: A resource optimization technique in which activity (or overall project) start and end dates are adjusted based on the availability of resources. The goal of resource leveling is to restrict resource use to a certain 'level'. This technique is used to ensure that resources aren't spread out too thin or get burnt out through overuse.

Resource Loading Profiles: A breakdown of the resource 'loads' required at different points in the project.

Resource Optimization Techniques: The collective name for all the techniques used to optimize resource use across the project life cycle. Some resource optimization techniques commonly used are Resource Smoothing and Resource Leveling.

Resource Smoothing: An Alternative to Resource Leveling. While Resource Leveling uses available float (which can affect the critical path), Resource Smoothing only uses the free float, thus not affecting the critical path. Resource Smoothing is usually used when delivery is prioritized over resource overuse.

Resource-Limited Scheduled: A project schedule where the chief constraint is resource availability. In a resource-limited schedule, project start and end dates are modified to factor in the availability of resources (or lack thereof).

Responsibility Assignment Matrix: A chart outlining responsibilities for different activities or deliverables. Also called the 'RACI matrix'. A responsibility assignment matrix identifies the people who are responsible, accountable, consulted, or informed about a specific activity.

Retainage/Retention: Retainage or Retention is the money withheld from a contract in order to ensure smooth delivery and/or adherence to established quality criteria of the end product.

Return on Investment (ROI): ROI is the profitability of the project, expressed in percent. A $100 project that results in $50 profit, thus, would have a ROI of 50%.

Risk: Risk, in project management, is any event that can affect the outcome of a project. This outcome can be positive or negative. Colloquially, risks that can result in a positive outcome are called 'opportunities'. Identifying, managing, and mitigating risks is one of the key responsibilities of a project manager.

Risk Acceptance: When you accept a risk and do not take any evasive measures against it, it is called 'risk acceptance'. A project manager would adopt this approach when the risk impact is minimal, or when the risk event is unavoidable.

Risk Appetite: The ability of an organization to withstand risk events is called its 'risk appetite'. An organization with high risk appetite can invest less in risk management and accept a higher number (and degree) of risks.

Risk Assessment: The process of examining different risks to a project, the likelihood of their occurring, their impact on the project, and corrective/preventive measures that can be taken against them.

Risk Avoidance: Risk Avoidance is the practice of minimizing the chances of a risk event occurring. This is different from risk management in that risk avoidance focuses largely on identifying and removing any actions or paths that can lead to a risk event.

Risk Breakdown Structure: A hierarchical breakdown of all the risks in a project.

Risk Budget: Money set side to deal with any planned or unplanned risk events. Risk Budget is part of the bigger Management or Contingency budget.

Risk Category: The segregation of risks into different categories. The exact categories will change from project to project. Common risk categories include 'Schedule', 'Cost', 'Requirements', 'Quality', 'Scope', etc.

Risk Context: The context in which a risk occurs, i.e. the relationship between the risk and the environmental, institutional, behavioral, etc. factors that affect it.

Risk Efficiency: Risk Efficiency is the concept of maximizing returns while minimizing exposure for a specific risk. Essentially, it involves taking a path that increases your returns while still exposing you to some risk. Unlike risk mitigation or avoidance, risk efficiency does not seek to prevent risk events from occurring altogether. Rather, it focuses on accepting a certain quantity of risk in order to maximize return.

Risk Enhancement: Risk Enhancement is the act of increasing the likelihood of a risk occurring. In nearly every case, you would only use this for a positive risk (i.e., an opportunity).

Risk Exploitation: Risk Exploitation is a step further from Risk Enhancement in that it focuses on ensuring that a positive risk event occurs.

Risk Identification: Risk Identification is the process of identifying and categorizing risks.

Risk Management: The part of management science that deals with risk events. Risk Management is a broad field and covers everything from risk identification to risk mitigation and avoidance. In smaller projects, risk management responsibilities are handled by the project manager. In larger projects, however, risk events would be handled by a dedicated manager.

Risk Mitigation: The process of decreasing the likelihood of a risk event occurring is called "risk mitigation".

Risk Monitoring and Control: The process of monitoring risks and using corrective/preventive measures (i.e., controlling risks) as per protocols established in the risk management plan is called Risk Monitoring and Control.

Risk Owner: Any individual in a project team who is responsible for responding to a risk event.

Risk Register: A document detailing risk events encountered during a project, the preventive/corrective measures taken, and the impact, if any. A risk register is an important document for tracking risks and planning better projects in the future.

Risk Response Planning: Once a risk is identified, possible paths to dealing with it are analyzed and formally incorporated into the risk management plan. This process is called 'risk response planning'.

Risk Sharing: The process of sharing or offloading risk to a third party, usually someone who is better equipped to deal with a specific type of risk event(s).

Risk Threshold: Risk Threshold is the point beyond which a risk event becomes debilitating and thus, warrants a response.

Risk Tolerance: An organization's Risk Tolerance defines how much of a compromise in performance or delivery timelines the organization would tolerate. This is different from Risk Appetite in that it focuses on tolerance for overall deviations from established performance standards, not openness to dealing with risk events.

Risk Transference: The process of transferring risk to a third party that is better equipped to deal with the risk event. Unlike risk sharing, where the risk is shared by both the project team and the third party, in risk transference, the risk is entirely handed over to a third party.

Risk Trigger: Any event that triggers a risk event.

Rolling Wave Planning: An iterative approach to planning. Instead of planning out the entire project in detail in advance, this approach focuses on only planning near-term activities in detail. Mid and long-term activities are only broadly sketched out. In projects with changing requirements, this 'rolling' approach can be effective since it avoids overplanning of activities that might eventually change.

Root Cause: In project management terms, 'root cause' identifies the core reason for an event.


S-Curve Analysis: A technique to visualize the progress of a project over time. The curve usually plots cumulative work completed or costs over time. Since work completed is slow at the beginning and end of a project (i.e., when the project is being planned and closed, respectively), this curve tends to follow a shallow 'S' shape, hence the name.

Safety Plan: A plan that describes the organization's approach to minimizing damage to project resources (people or goods) from safety threats.

Sanction: Formal approval for a project or project phase to proceed with the sanctioned resources.

Scenario Planning: The process of analyzing future scenarios and developing a plan to deal with unexpected situations is called 'scenario planning'. This is essentially the process of imagining "what if?" situations and developing tactics to deal with them with available resources.

Schedule: A schedule, in project management terms, is a list of all project activities along with their start/end times.

Schedule Baseline: The schedule created during project planning. This schedule serves as a baseline for evaluating the performance of the project. If the project is progressing faster than the baseline, it would have a 'Positive Variance'. Else, it would have a 'Negative Variance'.

Schedule Compression Technique: two techniques used to speed up projects (primarily, Crashing and Fast Tracking) are collectively called Schedule Compression Techniques.

Schedule Network Analysis: The name for any number of techniques used to analyze network diagrams and estimate early/late start/finish dates for activities in the project.

Schedule Performance Index (SPI): SPI is the ratio of the project's Earned Value (EV) and Planned Value (PV). If the ratio is more than one, it essentially means that the project has earned more value than the baseline, and hence, it is running ahead of schedule. A value of less than one means that the project is behind schedule. SPI is a powerful metric for quickly gauging the project's schedule performance.

Schedule Variance: The difference between the Earned Value (EV) and Planned Value (PV) at any given point in the project is called 'Schedule Variance'.

Scope: Scope defines everything the project is expected to accomplish - the complete list of requirements, objectives, and outputs produced by the project.

Scope Baseline: Scope Baseline is the scope established at project initiation. This serves as the baseline to evaluate scope change and spot scope creep as the project progresses.

Scope Change Management: Changing the scope also affects practically every aspect of the project, from dependent activities to overall costs and schedules. The process of managing all these changes, as well as communicating and coordinating scope issues, comes under ‘Scope change management’.

Scope Creep: The expansion of the project scope through informal, unrecorded change requests leads to scope creep. Unlike scope change requests that are handled through formal channels, scope creep happens when the project team accepts minor changes to a deliverable. While the single change might be small, several such requests can greatly inflate the overall scope, leading to scope creep.

Scope Statement: A document that describes the project's scope, i.e., its key requirements, objectives, and output. Detailed scope statements are necessary to understand what the project is supposed to do, and, more importantly, what it's not supposed to do.

Scope Verification: The process of verifying that the project has met its scope and that all its requirements have been fulfilled.

Secondary Risk: When your response to a risk event creates a risk event of its own, it’s called a secondary risk. 

Sensitivity Analysis: A method to evaluate how changing a specific model variable can change the model's output. Sensitivity Analysis is essentially a form of quantitative risk assessment that helps project managers understand which task variables (such as cost, duration, etc.) have the biggest impact on key project metrics.

Sequence: The order of occurrence of any list of activities is called a 'sequence'.

Setting: The 'setting' of a project is the relationship of the project with the organization that manages it.

Six Sigma: A collection of techniques used to minimize defects and maximize quality in process management. Six Sigma is as much a set of tools as it is a management philosophy. It is one of the most widely used approaches in industrial process management.

Slack Time: Slack Time defines how long you can delay an activity's early start without delaying the project as a whole.

Slip Chart: A type of chart used to visualize project schedule performance. The chart maps schedule 'slips', i.e., the gaps between planned and actual schedule performance.

Slippage: Slippage, in project management terms, is the delay between a project's planned vs actual schedule performance.

Social Capital: Social Capital describes the relationship between individuals, groups, and organizations. Social capital is an increasingly important quantity in project management since complex projects need the support and approval of multiple people across hierarchies in the organization. 

Soft Project: A project that does not have any hard, physical end product. Most software and digital projects fall in this category.

Spiral Life Cycle: An incremental development model used primarily in software development. Projects are divided into four phases - Planning, Risk Analysis (also called 'Design'), Engineering (also called 'Construct'), and Evaluation. This model places a great deal of emphasis on risk management and is particularly viable for large projects that are vulnerable to a multitude of risk events.

Sponsor: A project's sponsor is the individual (or group of individuals) responsible for the project. The sponsor kickstarts the project, secures funding for it, and champions it through the organization. From the high-level requirements to specific scope issues, the sponsor is usually the ultimate authority in guiding the project.

Sprint: A fixed period of time during which the project goes through a complete development cycle. Sprints are used in iterative development methods such as Scrum and Agile.

Stakeholder: Any individual or organization that has an interest in the project. Stakeholders can be internal (i.e., within the project organization - such as a senior executive), external (i.e., outside the organization, such as a client), and third-party (such as a journalist or vendor). Managing stakeholders is crucial for running successful projects since stakeholders are necessary for signing off on deliverables, securing funding, and championing the project's cause.

Stakeholder Analysis: The process of analyzing the project's stakeholders, their core interests and motivations, preferred communication approach, key metrics, and impact on the project.

Start-to-Finish: A type of logical relationship between two activities. In a Start-to-Finish relationship, the successor activity cannot finish until the predecessor activity has started.

Start-to-Start: A type of logical relationship between two activities. In a Start-to-Start relationship, the successor activity cannot start until the predecessor activity has started as well.

Statement of Work (SoW): The Statement of Work captures all the deliverables that must be created for the project to be successful, as well as their expected delivery timelines.

Status Report: A report describing the current state of the project sent to the project team and any interested stakeholders. Status reports can be one off, but are usually sent on a regular basis.

Steering Committee: A group of individuals within a project organization that offers high-level guidance on any project. That is, the committee "steers" the project in the right direction.

Subcontractor: A third-party vendor that provides goods and services to the project organization.

Success Criteria: The measures and standards a deliverable or project must meet in order to be classified as a 'success'.

Successor Activity: The activity that comes immediately after the current activity and has a logical relationship (such as Start-to-Finish or Start-to-Start) with it.

Summary Activity: When you combine related activities into a single set in a network diagram, it is called a 'summary activity'.

Sunk Cost: Resources invested in a project or activity that can't be recovered.

Super-Critical Activity: An activity with a negative float, i.e., an activity that is behind schedule, is called a 'super-critical activity'.

Supply Chain Management: The process of organizing and optimizing the supply chain of resources (typically physical but also virtual) necessary for a project.

SWOT Analysis: SWOT stands for 'Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats'. SWOT analysis is used to identify potential issues (weaknesses, threats) and benefits (strengths, opportunities) that can affect a project.

Systems Development Life Cycle (SDLC): A conceptual model used in project management for describing complex information systems. The SDLC breaks down the entire project life cycle into sequential stages - Planning, Analysis, Design, Implementation, Testing, and Maintenance. This life cycle concept is primarily used in software development and places a great deal of emphasis on testing and maintenance.


Talent Management: The part of management science that deals with attracting, enhancing, and retaining talented people who can meet the organization's objectives.

Target Completion Date: The target date for completing an activity.

Target Start Date: The target date for starting an activity.

Task: A unit of work necessary to produce a desirable result (such as a deliverable) in a project. Tasks have fixed deadlines and can be broken down further into smaller subtasks. Defining, monitoring, and managing tasks is one of the project manager's primary responsibilities.

Task Analysis: The process of analyzing a task to identify the resources and time required to complete it.

Team Building: The process of identifying a group of people who can work well together to meet a project's objectives, and enhancing their ties to boost the overall team performance.

Testing: A phase in project management where the project's deliverables are reviewed and tested to meet established quality standards.

Theory of Constraints: The theory of constraints states that any undertaking is defined not by its strengths, but its weaknesses. As per this theory, the weakest links on the project are the core factors that constrain its progress. When put into practice, a theory of constraints approach to project management focuses on identifying these weakest links and improving their performance such that they leave minimal impact on the project.

Threat: A risk event that can negatively affect the project's outcome is classified as a 'threat'.

Three-Point Estimating: An estimating technique that averages out best case (optimistic), worst case (pessimistic), and most likely estimates to arrive at a more honest estimate for project/activity costs and timelines.

Time and Material Contract: A type of contract where the client pays the contractor for any time spent on the project and reimburses any resources spent on acquiring materials for the project.

Time Limit: The total amount of remaining time within which a task must be completed.

Time Sheet: A time sheet is used for recording effort expended in pursuit of a project's goals. That is, a way to track the number of minutes/hours/days spent on project-focused tasks by individual resources.

Time-Scaled Network Diagram: A network diagram in which the length of each activity is scaled as per the time required to complete it. 

Timebox: A timebox, in project management terms, is a fixed length of time. Activities are assigned to this timebox and can only be completed within this period of time. Once the time period is over, the team has to move on to the next set of activities, even if the previous set of activities could not be fully completed. This approach to project management - called timeboxing - is typically used to ensure that projects are delivered on time, even at the risk of not meeting their requirements in full.

Timeline: A visual, time-based representation of project activities is called a 'timeline'.

To-Complete Performance Index (TCPI): TCPI is the ratio of work remaining to the budget remaining. It is an earned value management metric used to analyze whether there is enough budget left to achieve the project's objectives in full. A TCPI ratio of under 1 means that the project has more remaining funds than work (a good sign). A TCPI higher than 1 means that the work to be done is more than the budget.

Tolerance: Tolerance measures the degree of variation from accepted project performance standards. Different projects and stakeholders have different tolerance levels. In some projects, you might be required to report to stakeholders and sponsors if the tolerance crosses a certain threshold (i.e. project has too much positive/negative variance).

Top-Down Estimating: An estimation technique that uses historical data to calculate project costs and timelines.

Total Cost of Ownership: The sum total of all the costs (direct and indirect) incurred in purchasing, operating, and maintaining an asset.

Total Float: The total float for an activity is how much the activity can be delayed from its early start time without delaying the project end time.

Trigger Condition: A condition that can trigger a risk event. Identifying and tracking trigger conditions is useful for spotting risk events early.

Triple Constraint: The Triple Constraint concept states that project scope (and your ability to fulfill it) depends on three constraints - time, cost, and quality. A change in any of these three factors affects the project's scope and schedule.


Uncertain Event: An unquantifiable risk event (positive or negative) that can affect the project's outcome.

Uncertainty: Uncertainty, in project management, is any unknown quantity that can affect the project's scope or final outcome. Minimizing uncertainty is one of the core priorities for the project manager.

Unified Process: Also called Unified Software Development Process, Unified Process is a group of frameworks for iterative software development. Some common frameworks under this category are Rational Unified Process (RUP), Open Unified Process (OpenUP), and Agile Unified Process.

Use Case: In project management terms, "use case" describes all the ways an end-user is likely to use a product or deliverable.

User: A user is anyone who will interact with and derive benefits from a project's deliverables.

User Acceptance Test: A formal test to ensure that the product meets a user's core requirements, and thus, will be accepted by the user.

User Story: A term commonly used in software development. A 'user story' identifies a specific user for the product, how they'll interact with it, and their core requirements. A single product usually has multiple users each with their separate user stories. 


V Life Cycle: A software development life cycle that focuses on 'Verification' and 'Validation' (hence the name). Unlike a linear life cycle, the V-life cycle focuses on identifying the core requirements of the project and developing optimum solutions (the 'Verification' phase). Next, the created solutions are tested and requirements verified for completion (the 'Validation' phase) such that the life cycle follows a down-up, V-shaped curve.

Validate: The process of testing deliverables to ensure they meet requirements is termed 'Validate'.

Validation: The process of gathering proof (through user testing and surveys) that a deliverable meets a user's requirements.

Value for Money Ratio: The ratio of the value derived from a product to the cost of developing it. In project management, value for money ratio is used to express the project's value proposition.

Variable Cost: An expense that varies based on the quantity of the resource consumed, for example, electricity.

Variance Analysis: The process of analyzing variance (positive or negative) between a project's planned and actual performance.

Variance at Completion (VAC): The total variance (positive or negative) between the project's planned and actual performance at project completion. Usually, VAC is used for budget, but can also be used for schedule performance.

Variation Order: A document that formally approves a change in the project's scope or requirements is called a 'Variation Order'.

Vendor: Any third-party that provides goods or services to meet the needs of the project.

Vertical Slice: A metric commonly used in software development to demonstrate progress across all the components that make up the project. The metric "slices" through the various components (such as UI/UX, Code, Testing) to show their status at any given point in time.

Virtual Team: A team that's made up of people from different organizations, departments, and teams. A virtual team is different from a remote team in that the virtual team is not necessarily 100% remote. Further, while remote teams are usually conventional teams only separated by geography, virtual teams are flexible and often include people across organizations on full-time/part-time basis.

Vision Statement: A project's "vision statement" is a brief description of the changes expected from successful completion of the project, for both the sponsoring organization and the end users.

VUCA Conditions: VUCA stands for 'Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity, and Ambiguity'. It's a managerial acronym used to describe operational conditions marked by unpredictability. 


Waterfall Model: A top-down approach to project management characterized by upfront planning and sequential project progression. The waterfall model is typically used for small software projects where requirements are well-known and scope changes are limited. The waterfall is rarely used in software development today, giving way to iterative models such as Agile.

Weighted Average Cost of Capital (WACC): The minimum return an asset must earn to justify its cost. 

Weighted Milestone Method: The Weighted Milestone Method is an earned value method where work packages are divided into small segments. Each segment ends with a clear milestone which has a specific weighted value based on the budget.

What-if Assessment: The process of identifying alternative conditions to a chosen approach and analyzing their impact on the overall project.

Work: Work, in project management terms, is the amount of effort necessary to complete a task.

Work Breakdown Structure (WBS): A hierarchical breakdown of all the deliverables required to complete the project. The sum total of all these deliverables is the entire 'work' necessary to complete the project successfully.

Work Breakdown Structure Dictionary: The WBS Dictionary lists the schedule information for every element of a work breakdown structure.

Work Package: In a hierarchical work breakdown structure, a work package is a lowest-level deliverable that cannot be decomposed any further. In other words, a work package is the smallest unit of "work" that can be accomplished in a project.

Workaround: In project management, terms, 'workaround' describes a solution to an unexpected or insurmountable issue. A workaround isn't necessarily the ideal solution, but the most cost and time-efficient one.

Project management can be complicated, but it doesn’t have to be difficult. With better project management tools, you can bring a great deal of clarity to your project.

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