Project Management Glossary

A list of definitions for the most common project management terms.

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Project Management Terms and Definitions

The world of project management can be bewildering to those new to the discipline. As with any specialist area, technical terms and jargon blossom in number over the years. Here is a list of the more common project management terms and their meanings.

Term

Description

ADBTI
Analyze, Design, Build, Test and Implement – a model used for the development of business solutions and software.
ADDIE
Analyze, Design, Develop, Implement, and Evaluate – the Instructional Systems Design (ISD) model for creating training programs.
Agenda
Notice of a meeting that states meeting location, time and date of the meeting and the items to be discussed.
Analyze
The first phase in many developmental and delivery methodologies. The Analyze phase involves examination of the proposal to determine the requirements and "what" is to be addressed by the project.
Assumptions
Statements describing situations that are taken to be true.
Baseline
The point of reference that is used as a comparison point for project performance reporting.
Benefits Realization Review
The process of reviewing the extent of realized benefits once the solution has been delivered and implemented. Measured benefits are compared with those originally proposed in the Business Case.
Benefits Tracking
The process of quantitatively measuring over a period of time the extent of realized benefits once the solution has been delivered and implemented.
BRS
See Business Requirements Specification
Budget
Planned expenditure and funds allocated for a project.
Build
A phase in systems development, but applies in almost all solution design and delivery methodologies. The Build phase involves actually creating the solution proposed by the Project Definition.
Business Case
A document detailing the justification for the business progressing with the project.
Business Owner
The person/s in the organization that will take ownership of the project's outputs and use them for the benefit of the organization.
Business Requirements Specification
A document that states specifically the business needs that the project's outputs must satisfy. It is basically the "what" aspect of the project.
CAPEX
CAPital EXpenditure – typically includes purchase of new equipment.
Change Control
The set of practices around effectively managing changes to the project so that they are raised, assessed, prioritized and implemented efficiently and with known impact on the project.
Conceptual View
A very high-level summary of what the solution will look like once it is implemented. It can be presented as a diagram.
Deliverable
An item produced by a project or part of a project that is tangible and objectively verifiable.
Design
The project phase involving the process of determining what the solution will look like, how it should be created and how it should be implemented.
Duration
The length of calendar time required to complete a project or part of a project. Do not confuse this with Effort.
Earned Value Analysis
A technique for determining the value delivered by a project to date compared with what it was planned to deliver.
Effort
The measure of the amount of work required to complete a project or part of a project. Do not confuse this with Duration.
Estimate
A calculated guess of the size, cost and duration of a future project.
EVA
See Earned Value Analysis
Evaluate
A phase in some project methodologies in which the success of the project in meeting its objectives is measured and reported.
Implement
The phase of a project involved with delivering the solution to the Business Owner.
Instructional Systems Design
A systematic approach to designing and delivering training programs – usually abbreviated to ISD.
ISD
See Instructional Systems Design
Issue
An event that is currently threatening the project and requiring attention.
Issues Management
A set of practices designed to effectively identify, prioritize and monitor issues and manage them through to resolution.
Milestone
A significant event that acts as a progress marker during the life of a project and is reported on.
Minutes
Notes taken during a meeting that summarize discussions and agreed actions.
PDLC
See Product Development Life Cycle
PIR
See Post-Implementation Review
Post-Implementation Review
A review conducted sometime after the completion of a project in order to determine whether the project met its objectives – usually abbreviated to PIR.
Product Development Life Cycle
A methodical approach to designing and delivering new products – usually abbreviated to PDLC.
Program
A group of interrelated projects satisfying a common objective and managed as a set by a Program Manager.
Project
A set of interrelated activities managed in a coordinated way and designed to deliver a unique product or service within a given time frame and resources.
Project Board
A group of people ultimately responsible for a project's success through monitoring its progress, reviewing its continued relevance to the organization's objectives and overcoming institutional barriers. In some organizations, may be referred to as a Steering Committee.
Project Brief
A document describing succinctly the project objectives, scope, summarized costs and resource requirements. In some organizations, may be referred to as the Project Brief or Terms of Reference.
Project Manager
The person selected by the organization to manage the project resources and activities in order to deliver the agreed project outputs.
Project Sponsor
A senior person within an organization that has ultimate responsibility for the success of a project through overcoming organizational barriers and advocating for the project. They may devote resources to the project and in some cases is the Business Owner.
Resource
People, materials, tools and systems needed during a project.
Return on Investment
The financial benefit resulting from a project once the cost of the project is deducted from the financial gain.
Risk
An event that could possibly occur and which would have an impact on the project if it happens.
Risk Management
A set of practices designed to effectively identify, prioritize and monitor risks and plan for their mitigation.
ROI
See Return on Investment
Scope
A clear description of the breadth of a project – what is in and what is out.
SDLC
See Software Development Life Cycle
Sizing
A preliminary guess with a wider degree of tolerance than an Estimate. The tolerance could be as wide as ±50 percent.
Socialization
The technique for obtaining from stakeholders commentary and critique about a document, an idea or a proposed solution.
Software Development Life Cycle
A methodical approach to designing and delivering software – usually abbreviated to SDLC.
Stakeholder
Any person that may have an interest in the process, outputs or outcomes of a project.
Stakeholder Group
Stakeholders that have similar interests in a project.
Steering Committee
A group of people ultimately responsible for a project's success through monitoring its progress, reviewing its continued relevance to the organization's objectives and overcoming institutional barriers. In some organizations, may be referred to as a Project Board.
Team Leader
A person assigned to manage a team in order to produce a discrete set of deliverables within a project.
Terms of Reference
See Project Definition
Test
The process of checking the outputs of a project against a predetermined set of agreed criteria.
TOR
Terms of Reference – see Project Definition
WBS
See Work Breakdown Structure
Work Breakdown Structure
A tabular or graphical hierarchical break down of the project work into related tasks.
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