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Project management terms: an A to Z guide of project management terminology

NitanshLast Updated: November 7, 2022

Are you new to project management? Confused about various project management terms and what they mean?

Fret not, as we have created this one-stop guide to cover all the terms in project management to help you understand them. We’ll be continuously updating this page with key project management terms, so bookmark it and come back whenever you want to brush up on your knowledge about the project management glossary.

C – Project management terms

Contingency Plan

A contingency plan is a course of action to help an individual or entity respond to different types of incidents in the future. What differentiates a contingency plan from a usual plan is these are devised for future situations that may or may not happen. This allows one to mitigate the risk of any unexpected events, even if they may seem unlikely at the moment.

In most cases, businesses and government bodies should be ready for any situations that might come their way. A contingency plan comes in handy for such situations.

Certified Associate in Project Management (CAPM)

A Certified Associate in Project Management (CAPM) is a certified individual with the necessary entry-level project management skills. Every business or any similar entity needs experts who can manage and oversee a project. Individuals can take up necessary tests administered by the Project Management Institute (PMI), a globally recognized project management organization. This course will have all the knowledge and skills you need for managing a project effectively and get the job done. Introduced in 2003, Certified Associate in Project Management (CAPM) has successfully transformed many lives over the years.

Read: Top project management certifications to level up your career

Critical path method (CPM)

The critical path method, commonly called CPM, is an integral component of project management. It is an algorithm that is used to schedule a set of different projects and associated activities. There is a specific tactic used to leverage the benefit of the Critical path method (CPM).

One starts with a list of all tasks needed to complete the project, defining the dependencies between different tasks, and finally estimating the time required for each of the tasks or activities. This information will help you determine the critical path by identifying the longest stretch of dependent activities and measuring them right from start to finish.

E – Project management terms

Eisenhower Matrix

The Eisenhower Matrix is a prioritization, productivity, and time management framework used to ensure important tasks get completed first over others. One needs to first categorize the tasks or items on the agenda based on their significance or urgency. Following this, people will automatically get a better idea of the tasks or items that take precedence over others. The Eisenhower Matrix is known by many other names, including Eisenhower Box, the Urgent Important Matrix, and the Eisenhower Decision Matrix. The basic idea behind the framework is to draw a four-box square where the x-axis is labeled as Urgent and Non-Urgent while the y-axis is labeled as important and non-important. One can put the items in different boxes based on the urgency and significance of the task or item.

Read: How to prioritize tasks effectively at work

G – Project management terms

Gantt Chart

A Gantt Chart is a visual representation generally used to depict any project’s schedule. These graphical charts are very similar to bar charts showing the start to end dates of different elements associated with a project. These elements can include a lot of things, such as planning, resources, and even dependencies.

Gantt Chart was Henry Gantt’s brainchild, a prominent American mechanical engineer. Currently, it is one of the most common types of visualization charts used in project management across the globe. In most cases, heavy industries use these charts for big projects like dam construction. Besides that, the software development industry also benefits from the application of the Gantt Chart.

GTD

GTD stands for Getting Things Done, which is a relatively simple system that helps one enhance their overall productivity. The entire concept was the brainchild of David Allen, who also published a book discussing the idea of GTD. According to David Allen, there is an inverse relationship between things on your mind and the things getting done.

In simple words, it’s fair to say that GTD is a time management system resting on the idea of moving all things of interest in your mind and recording them externally to convert them into actionable work items.

K – Project management terms

Kanban

Kanban helps you visualize your work and facilitates better categorization to suit your requirements. It’s a methodology in software development to enact Agile and DevOps software development. Real-time communication of the capacity is a significant factor here.

Kanban also demands lucidity in work done. The work items remain visually available on the Kanban board. This ensures that every project member can see each other’s work clearly at any time, helping everyone stay on the same page.

Read: The best Kanban project management tools

KPI

KPI stands for key performance indicator that discusses evaluating a particular organization’s favorable outputs. KPIs assign targets to a team, working on what will lead to the success of the business strategy of that organization. KPIs emphasize certain areas like internal process quality, financial strategy, profit margin, growth revenue, employee satisfaction, and customer satisfaction.

KPI works as a quantifiable measurement to determine the potentiality and advancements toward getting closer to the goal in the long run. KPI measurement gives clear feedback about the business strategies that help the management to make different decisions.

M – Project management terms

Mission critical

Mission critical is indeed a crucial factor in the business operation system because the company totally depends on it. Any disruption or failure to this system may lead to the cessation of the operating system as a whole or maybe the organization. It is the indispensable core database of an organization that contains strategic information, accounts, revenues, and other regulatory accordances.

Simply put, mission-critical is an essential factor for a company without which its existence will be in crisis. Mission critical can be anything – software or hardware, or even a project whose success is crucial for the existence of that organization.

O – Project management terms

OKR   

OKR means Objective and Key Results, which is a framework for setting a specific goal. Various organizations and teams use this tool to establish clear goals and evaluate the development process. The main benefit of this goal management tool is that it organizes everything in a certain way so that the goals can be established in a concise time span, even sooner than expected.

OKR is also essential to check the company’s progress toward the goal. Statistics show that it makes the strategies transparent and helps put better emphasis on the desired results, ensuring the goal is realized.

P – Project management terms

PMO   

PMO stands for project management office. This is a company or agency department that takes care of the business standards. PMO deals with the standards of the projects and plans as well as maintains an organized strategy of project management for the benefit of that company. Along with all that, PMO is responsible for maintaining the documentation of the project and is liable for meeting the deadlines every time. PMO also decides on project selection, distributes work among the teams accordingly, and schedules tasks in an organized system. Thus, PMO is crucial in any business development for creating a systematic work environment.

Program evaluation review technique (PERT)

Program evaluation review technique or PERT is basically a project planning tool. It provides us with the statistics of the design and analysis of the tasks in a particular timeline in a project. This is a visual tool to make the project planners aware of the progress of the work with time as well as the deadlines of the project.

It helps identify the expected time required for completion and helps make an adequately organized schedule for the project to finish before the expected time. PERT also improves teamwork because it emphasizes working as per the schedule.

Project lifecycle

Project lifecycle is the repetitive sequential processes through which the project work passes. This cycle progresses through certain phases. These phases are initiation, planning, execution, and closure, and then back to the initiation of something new. It breaks down the total work into compartments so that the progress can be monitored better. This also causes improvization of planning by stressing a particular stage.

It helps in checking on the progress of the ongoing project and one can take further steps if needed. In a nutshell, the project life cycle is sequential steps that should be followed to complete any project framework.

Read: Things you did not know about the project management lifecycle

Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK)

The project management body of knowledge is published documentation of standard project guidelines. This comes up with solid strategies and the best layouts to achieve the project’s success. This has standard terminologies, better schedule management plans, and business ideas for the betterment of any project. It has ten knowledge areas specified.

The organizations should fulfill PMBOK guidelines to attain excellence at its peak and reach the goal as soon as possible while maintaining the project’s quality. The principal objective of PMBOK is to make the project management strategies even more systematic and skillful.

Project management methodologies

Project management methodology is a framework that deals with the techniques, procedures, strategy, and principles of a particular work to attain maximum efficiency. This management tool provides better visuals of what is going on and what should be the strategy for betterment. Here approaches need to be appropriate to make it work. Every project tends to have the best management system to get more scopes.

To improve the management system, a few approaches are accepted by many people. These are Waterfall, Agile, Scrum, Kanban, PRINCE2, Six Sigma, critical path method, critical chain project management, lean, PMBOK, extreme programming, etc.

Read: Agile, Scrum, Waterfall, and More – top project management methodologies and how they’re different

Project management professional (PMP)

Authorized institutes issue a project management professional or PMP certification to the project managers. This industry-recognized certification is beneficial for a person seeking a manager position in any project because it helps job seekers showcase their skills which can attract employers. This certification comes up with multiple advantages. Among them, the most noticeable benefit is the increased salary of a project manager.

Getting a PMP certificate will be a good and intelligent investment in one’s career, which can pave way for more opportunities. The experience and expertise will be valued worldwide and will lead to a brighter future.

Project manager

A manager holds a critical position in any project. The principal role of the project managers is to take proper control over the ongoing project under them. They plan, organize, make work schedules, and care for quality. They are also responsible for checking if the works are correctly completed before the deadline. To be very specific, the main job of a project manager is making plans, executing them, monitoring the project, taking control of it, and meeting deadlines. The project manager is also liable for evaluating the scope, prospects, and budget planning of the assigned project.

Project Plan

A project plan can be defined as a series of documentation discussing the project’s strategy, execution, and control. This documentation is presented in a format properly describing every step with adequate detailing. This plan also contains scopes, prospects, risk management strategy, resources, funds, etc. In accordance with that, seven parts of the project plan are mainly highlighted. They are pre-planned goals, resources available, task management, prediction of risk factors, communication skills, proper schedule, and quality control.

It provides transparency to the responsibilities of the teams, reduces probable confusion, and makes the goal even more apparent to the employees of that organization.

Read: The ultimate guide to project planning

Project Portfolio Management (PPM)

Project portfolio management pr PPM is a project management system that works centrally. Here all the resources and anything related to the project are discussed and processed under the same roof. For that reason, it’s a sound system for selecting and prioritizing a project’s objectives. This also manages the business strategy and the possibility of getting the project’s expected outcome.

It works in a cyclic process that includes planning, authorizing, monitoring, controlling, and returning to the planning. The main motto of this management is to predict problems, review them, take care of the stakeholders properly and manage the finances.

Project stakeholder

Project stakeholders have interest and active engagement in the project, including the project manager, teammate, customer, and other individuals attached to the project work. Any positive or negative outcome of the project directly impacts the stakeholders. In short, project stakeholders are those people or entities that have any direct connection with the project. The main stakeholders of a project are customers, government, investors, suppliers and vendors, communities, and employees. They get directly affected by the business. But the business owners are the main stakeholders as they control all project activities. Apart from them, the customers and employees are also important stakeholders.

Projects in controlled environments (Prince2)

Projects in controlled environments or PRINCE2 is a project management process segregating tasks into manageable and controllable parts. Previously this was an IT-based process, but now, it is applied in any sector like finance and engineering as well. PRINCE2 is accepted in countries like Australia, the UK, and other Eastern European countries. It emphasizes the control required after initiating a project, thus resulting in the effective growth of the organization. This ensures that the project is well-planned even before the onset. The emphasis on control over the project makes it a PRINCE2 project.

R – Project management terms

RACI chart    

Regarding project management, the RACI chart is an assignment matrix that records the types of responsibility assigned to people. RACI stands for responsible, accountable, consulted, and informed. These four are the contents of the chart or spreadsheet, and the names of the assignees are put accordingly. Usage of this spreadsheet can lessen the confusion among the people in a team about the job roles. This is important because it keeps a consecutive record of the roles in any assigned tasks or deliverable projects. By going through the RACI charts, one can clearly understand the respective roles assigned.

Resource allocation

In the economics language, resource allocation takes care of assigning the appropriate job role and resources available according to the strategy to reach the goal soon. In simpler words, resource allocation is the assignment of the resources that are accessible. This includes managing certain hardware to better handle assets like the capital amount. It makes capacity planning even better.

Both people and resources can be reassigned according to the need to enhance productivity. Resource allocation is both time and cost-effectively managing workloads and helps improvise the strategy for a brighter future for the organization.

Risk management

Risk management refers to controlling any financial threat to the company. This risk can impact companies’ capital and further earnings and can originate from various issues like technology issues, legal liabilities, mismanagements, and many unintentional errors. Risk management deals with the identification of the threat followed by the process of minimizing its effects and therefore repairing the damage. The main steps of risk management include avoidance, retention, sharing, transfer of risks, and loss prevention and reduction. These few steps are the backbone of the risk management strategy and can save the organization from monetary threats.

Read: All you need to know about project risk management

Risk mitigation

Risk mitigation is the shield before any business faces threats. This deals with the strategy to minimize the effect of any long-term risks. This is necessary because it provides a company with plans to avoid and eventually eliminate the risk factors that can be fatal to the organization as the risk management strategy risk mitigation comes up with specific consecutive steps like avoidance, acceptance transference, and then reduction or control. It gives a crystal-clear view to the organization of how they can hold up with risks and how rapidly they can act against them so that there will be no further obstruction to fulfilling the objectives.

S – Project management terms

Scrum

In software development, scrum is a methodology to make the team work better. This helps deliver value in a suitable method in any incremental process throughout the ongoing project work. This framework is fast, effective, and flexible, so it has been adapted in many other fields apart from software development, like sales, marketing, research, and more. The three main pillars of scrum are transparency, inspection, and adaptation. These three are mandatory to execute any teamwork successfully.

Scrum is very much accepted because of its simplicity, positive performance rate, and, most importantly, effectiveness in creating a collaborative work environment.

Six Sigma

Six Sigma makes us aware of the statistical evaluation of the mistakes occurring in work. After that, it focuses on the improvement ideas that can be implemented. It’s basically a find-and-fixes tool that contains six steps done consecutively in a cyclic manner. These six steps are serially defined, measured, analyzed, improved, and controlled. This cyclic process mainly helps reduce manufacturing defects and standardizes a company’s approach toward improvement. Six sigma is very important because it reduces blemishes and thereafter increases the product’s performance, quality, and profit.

SMART Goals

SMART goals are a smart way to deal with developing a business strategy. Here SMART stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound. This says the business objective should have certain criteria to be unique so that it can lead the way toward success. SMART goals can design your road map towards reaching the goal within less time and with maximum effectiveness. It can give you a better idea about which way to move with the plans and what is better, as well as an organized way to execute a certain plan so that the expectation is adequately met, and the quality of the work is up to the mark.

Sprint

Sprint is an essential part of the agile system. From the literal meaning of the word itself, it is evident that the time span of accomplishing the task is short. It ensures that all the work is done before the deadline. This process improves quality checks because if all work is done within a short time, then there will be some time left for the evaluation of the work done without failing the deadline. There will be chances for the team to get into another position soon after completing that specific work in the sprint.

Statement of work

A statement of work is an overview of the business that includes further requirements, prospects, project deliverables, finance, timeline as well as the scope of the business. It talks about the liabilities and responsibilities of a company to its clients. Every project management should have a statement of work that describes the project’s requirements and other necessary details, such as the terms and conditions applied, which are easily understandable by both parties. Moreover, SOW provides a company with better documentation and management of their data, which will lead to making a better and wise approach to development in the future. 

SWOT analysis

SWOT analysis refers to the analysis of Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats as a part of the business development strategy. This helps to evaluate a company’s current position as well as prospects in the competitive market. This acts as a guide to the growth map of the company by analyzing the strong and weak areas and changing the directions of the upcoming steps accordingly. It basically points out the performance reports of the areas of the business. Identification of weakness opens the door to betterment, and identifying strength allows you to make that even stronger to stay ahead in the race.

T – Project management terms

Traceability matrix

In software development, the traceable matrix is a set of detailed documents that provide the gist of the relationship between any two baseline details that needs a many-to-many relationship. This inquires if the requirements of the ongoing project are fulfilled too. A traceable matrix basically works as proof of the fact that the test has been done.

It keeps the records of the test cases, test runs, and even the test results so that the quality assurance team understands what needs to be tested again. Hence traceable matrix eventually helps in further analysis and decision-making about the development.

W – Project management terms

Waterfall

In business analysis terminologies, waterfall refers to the consecutive software development process. It walks us through the entire software development process, from the preliminary steps to the delivery. The six main stages of waterfall methodologies are requirements, analysis, design, coding, testing, and deployment. The principles of the waterfall model make the developer’s job more systematic.

This methodology enables a developer to detect the solution of a problem, i.e., the required part, and then design a solution accordingly. Then apply that, check for the desired results quite a few times and then complete the rest of the process, i.e., bringing it into action.

Work Breakdown Structure (WBS)

Work breakdown structure involves organizing significant work by breaking it into smaller components. It is a project management tool that relies on step-by-step methods when it comes to the perfection of a work. It gives a visual representation of the total scope and allows us to estimate project costs and assign responsibilities accordingly.

WBS provides a clear view of whether deliverables are falling behind and even ensures no deliverables are being unnoticed. Most importantly, stressing smaller parts of a project individually gives a better approach to the planning and makes the team more engaged with the assigned work.

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