Top 50+ project management terms you need to know

Project management is a delicate process that guides the development of a product or service. Many first-time team members can often find it difficult to keep up with the terminology used by the team. This type of project involves a lot of detailed and complex process and procedures, so it’s important to create a special jargon that is evergreen and can be understood by all members of the team.

Discover some of the most common project management terms that are used in project management teams and how they relate to the desired output of the project. Some of these terms are very common even outside the scope of project management; yet other terms are very unique to this field and were developed for good reason.

It’s important to have a strong grasp over the many project management terms to ensure team members can communicate with each other effectively and seamlessly.

Acceptance Criteria – criteria that is outlined in a contract as to what the final output or product should look like. This criterion determines what the client is paying for and the criteria for the final product.
Accountability – the process of ensuring all members of the team, including the project manager, are staying on task and producing at the level determined by the acceptance criteria.
Assumption – ideas that are not proven to be true; assumptions are generally used during the planning of the project to determine the outcome and process of the project.
Acquisition Process – the process of acquiring products and services.
Action Item Status – the total list of problems that arise during the project. This document also includes a list of actionable items taken during the course of the project as well as any other documentation regarding the said items.
Action Plan – a plan that pushes the project forward through an actionable list of process, procedures and tasks. It may also include the delegation of tasks.
Backward Pass – a list of total late start and finish dates. This document is called the backward pass because it is drafted by starting at the end date of the project and working backwards to the beginning of the project.
Baseline – one of the project management terms that refers to the outline or plan of the beginning project that includes any approved changes to the project.
Budget – the total amount of money that is set aside for any given project. The budget can also outline the total projected costs for any given milestone or segment of the project.
Budget at Completion – the total cost the project will take to complete.
Business Case – a document that dictates why a project should begin.
Business Plan – the simple but detailed plan that outlines how the team members and project manager plan to execute the project.
Calendar Unit – the unit that is used in the breakdown or chunking of a project. The unit defined by different milestones of the project.
Capital Expenditure – the amount of money spent by a client that adds value to a product or service outside the fiscal year.
Change Control – the documentation of any changes to the process. The change control can include documentation such as approvals, rejections and schedule changes. The control process is put in place to minimize damage and wasted time.
Clients – one of the project management terms that refers to the group of people or the organization that the project management team reports to; the group or manager representing a company that is buying the product or service from the product management team.
Constraints – the restrictions that are applied to any project. The issues that affect the project management process or the end result of a project.
Cost Variance – the differentiation between the actual cost of the project or product and the estimated cost of the output.
Critical Path – an outline of the tasks; the critical path shows how the team members will get to the end result. This includes the milestones, testing and final product.
Decision Tree – a diagram that charts the flow of a specific decision or plan of action. The tree shows the offshoots of different possibilities and choices made by team members and project managers.
Decision Tree Analysis – the analysis of the decision tree.
Deliverable – the outcome of a project, project milestone or a part of the project that proves the validity of the project; a result of the project that is sent out to the client or customer.
Dependencies – any event, person or product that depends on the success of any given project.
Design Documents – the blueprint or map of the end result of the product; a clear and concise measurement of the final product.
Earned Value – the way project managers and team members can measure how well the product performs. To determine the end value, team members must compare the units of labor to create the product to the end result.
Effort – the amount of labor that the project manager expects will be needed to produce the final product or end result of the product.
Estimate – a prediction of the end result. Estimates are generally broad figures, yet they are attained by looking at quantitative and accurate factors. Modifiers are usually used to account for variations of the estimated end result.
Ethics – the rules and regulations that guide the team members and project manager to ensure that all processes and procedures are not compromised. These rules and regulations can be set forth by the company or by the government.
Float Functional Manager – project manager who specializes in one given department; this person reports to the head project manager.
Function Point – the unit that measures a computer application’s complexity.
GANTT Chart – a chart that diagrams the workflow of the process. This chart can include information such as dates, work activities and the breakdown of the workload.
Hanger– a deviation from the desired path; hangers are the result of an oversight of logical relationships.
Historical Information – one of the project management terms that refers to the information that is collected during the scope of the project and used to ensure the project stays on task. This type of information could include emails, phone calls, records and contracts.
Initiation – the beginning of a task, set of tasks or a project that can help to propel the project forward to the end result.
Issue – a setback that could cause the entire project to fail or to fall behind the time constraints.
Lag – the amount of time it takes to finish one task; the amount of time between tasks; the amount of time the successor will need to wait to start his or her part of the project.
Lifecycle – the predetermined method that the team will use to develop the project. This can be any type of methodology from engineer to Rapid Application.
Milestone – a date or event that acts as a goal within the project. Milestones are put into place to ensure the project runs smoothly and stays on track.
Mission Statement – an actionable and accountable statement that summarizes the project as well as the desired output. This is generally a very short statement that is succinct to remind the team members of the optimum desired results.
Near Critical Activity – activity (or lack thereof) that slows down the project to critical levels.
Net Present Value – the value set forth by the project team and the client that helps to understand the importance of the project and the financial gain as the result of the project.
Objective – a statement or sentence that outlines the exact ideal output of the project; the ideal end goal of the project.
Path – the set of steps that the project team decides to follow to reach the end result of output of any given project.
PERT Chart – a type of project diagram. This type of chart diagrams the networks that will evaluate the processes and procedures used by the project management team.
Program – the project structure or umbrella that supersedes all other projects within the main project.
Project – the non-permanent process of the creation of a product or service that will serve as the output.
Project Baseline – the document that is used by the project manager to predict the budget of the project and the timeline of the project.
Project Definition – the document that allows the project manager to move forward on a project.
Project Manager – the person in charge of the project, team and output of the product development phase; this is the person that takes responsibility for all aspects of the project.
Project Management Office – abbreviated to PMO, is a group or department within a business, agency or enterprise that defines and maintains standards for project management within the organization.
Project Phase – a chunking and grouping of tasks that leads to a project milestone or final product or service.
Project Plan – an actionable plan with specific dates and milestones that ensures the project moves smoothly; the exact methodology of the testing of the output.
Project Schedule – the predetermined amount of time that the project will take to complete. This includes major milestones and dates for deliverables.
Project Team – the people who work on the development of the project. This can include project managers, who are at the helm of the project, as well as supervisors and other project leads.
Quality Management – the total amount of policies, procedures and plans that are put for to ensure the success of the project and ensure all material is viable; the process to assist with risk management (see below).
Red Flag – a sign that of a setback within the project or something that signifies the project might not succeed.
Request for Proposal – the formal document that is put forth by the client that initiates the original planning and budget analysis of the project.
Request for Quotation – the client’s formal request for the projected financial scope of a project.
Requirements – the predetermined list of the product’s end-result capabilities.
Risk Assessment– the process of determining whether or not the end result will succeed before the initiation phase of the project; predicting whether the product will succeed.
Risk Event – an even that changes the project for better or worse; an event that causes the team and management to reevaluate the project and redefine the scope.
Schedule Variance – the difference (more or less) between the scheduled time of the project and the actual time of the project.
Scope – the entire picture; the total services or products that will be the end result of any given project.
Scope Change Management – the process of changing the end result; through the use of testing, the scope could change throughout the project. The management of this change is necessary to keep the project in line.
Scrum – project management software that was created by Jeff Sutherland, Jeff McKenna and John Scumniotales.
Six Sigma – the term that refers to the ethics of the collection of data, analysis of data and high standards of output.
Sponsor – the person or persons who are bankrolling the project. This can be in the form of cash or credit; the financial benefactor.
Stakeholder – one or a group of many persons who are bankrolling the project.
Steering Committee – the clients or stakeholders who have an invested monetary interest in the project; this committee can change the course of the project.
Template – a form or document that outlines the structure for the data collected within the project. These documents are generally compiled throughout previous projects.
Testing – the process of testing each product to ensure it meets the criteria set at the beginning of the project. A planned process to ensure the product produces the desired results.
Transparency – the list of team members who are assigned to a task or area of the project; this term can also hold team members accountable for tasks.
Total Cost of Ownership – the value of the acquisition or added value to an asset as the result of the end result of the project.
Variance – a differentiation between the baseline and the actual output. The difference between the output and the estimated output (the baseline).
Waterfall Methodology – the phases of the project; this could include the initial planning phases, design phases, development and testing phases that lead to the end result of the product.
Work Around – impromptu plan that follows a risk event. The work around is not a previously planned strategy but an improvised plan that follows the risk event.
Workplan – the complete guide to the flow of the project.

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