Digital Leadership & Soft Skills

Project Management Definitions

Published by Pavel Nakonechnyy on (updated: ) .

Project – is a temporary endeavor undertaken to create a unique product, service, or result. It has a definite beginning and end. Projects are undertaken to fulfil objectives by producing deliverables.

Any project:

  1. Creates a unique product, service or result
  2. Is a temporary endeavor
  3. Drives change
  4. Enables business value creation: tangible or intangible

Projects create value and benefits in organizations. Business leaders manage within limited budgets, timelines, resources and with changing technology. To remain competitive in the global economy, companies embrace PM to deliver business value.

Factors that cause a project to start:

  1. Meet regulatory, legal or social requirements
  2. Satisfy stakeholder or business requests or needs.
  3. Implement or change business or technology strategies.
  4. Create, improve or fix products, processes, or services.

Deliverable – any unique and verifiable product, result or capability to perform a service that is required to be produced to complete a process, phase, or project.

Project Management – application of knowledge, skills, tools, and techniques to project activities in order to meet the project requirements.

A project management office (PMO) is a group or department within a business, government agency, or enterprise that defines and maintains standards for project management within the organization. The PMO strives to standardize and introduce economies of repetition in the execution of projects.

Project Profiling – process of extracting a characterization from the known attributes of a project.

Project environment – all the conditions that can influence the outcome or success of the project. Project size, technological complexity, cultural and language barriers, the political landscape, and resource constraints are some of the components of the project environment that can influence the project success. Understanding these influences and developing a project profile creates a foundation for building an effective project execution plan.

Span of control – a number of direct reports of a manager. Use geography, area of expertise and grade to make a tree.

Project management is the application of strategies, skills, and tools to achieve a specific goal, which is most often (drum roll!), a project.

Every project begins from an idea that needs to be planned, organized, executed, managed, tracked, completed, and measured for ultimate success. Project managers (like you!) oversee all of those aspects, plus the individual tasks, timelines, budget, scope, and resources needed for success.

No problem, you got this. Now for the terms that you should know (in alphabetical order for super quick reference).

  1. Agile – a method of working quickly that is designed to adapt to rapid changes. Teams are often small and work in short sprints without lengthy processes or blockers to slow them down.
  2. Backlog – a complete list of tasks that make up a whole project scope. Tasks—or deliverables—in a backlog are organized and done in priority order.
  3. Baseline – an original plan or estimate for a project’s timeline, budget, scope, and goals. It is an important tracker to compare progress against and make adjustments.
  4. Blocker blocks or slows the way forward—and should be anticipated and removed ahead of time. These project impediments range from technology complications to budget constraints.
  5. Bottleneck narrows and constricts the flow, pace, and capacity of a project. This could be stakeholders that have too many deliverables to approve or processes that can get overloaded.
  6. Brainstorming – a tool for creative ideation and solutions. Brainstorm sessions follow a variety of different techniques, but the key is to gather many ideas and find the best within those.
  7. Budget – the estimated total cost to complete a project. Project costs should be calculated as a total sum of parts and include project phases, tasks, operating costs, labor, and tools or services needed.
  8. Case Study – a resource that dives into use-cases and various approaches to project management. They’re usually research-based studies that help an aspect of the decision-making process.
  9. Change Management – knowledge area about how to manage and control changes within an organization, team, or project. This method aims to maintain control and efficiency when changes are made.
  10. Contingency Plan – a detailed emergency backup plan for how to effectively manage any short and long-term disruptions or disasters that could arise throughout the project.
  11. Critical Path Method (CPM) – a modeling technique for scheduling out a project step-by-step. It is an algorithm based on how much time each task will take and helps to determine the task order and timeline for the whole project.
  12. Dashboard – a tool that supports better project, team, and task management. They are a centralized hub of organized information, team members, and communication online and often have visual tools such as analytics.
  13. Deliverables – the results delivered throughout or at the end of a project. These outputs are products and/or services, such as reports, service updates, marketing materials, or goods.
  14. Earned Value Management (EVM) – a way to measure a project’s performance and progress. It is calculated based on the project scope, timeline, and cost.
  15. Fast Tracking – a way to speed up a project’s progress and shorten the timeline to delivery, which is often done by doing multiple tasks at once or removing unnecessary tasks.
  16. Gantt Chart – a bar graph for scheduling project tasks where activities are measured (on the Y-axis) against time (on the X-axis). This is a great way to see how long each task will take within an entire project and track progress.
  17. Issue Management – a way to see and resolve issues. This can be done in steps including: scan for issues, identify, assess and prioritize, strategize, respond to the issue, and monitor the results.
  18. Kickoff Meeting – the first meeting at the beginning of a project with stakeholders and team members.
  19. Meeting Minutes – notes taken during a meeting that often include key takeaways and next steps.
  20. Milestone – a key point throughout a project’s timeline that can be used as markers to celebrate and assess progress.
  21. Mission Critical – either refer to any factor that is critical to the success of a project or to the actual project itself being critical to the success of an organization.
  22. PERT Chart A PERT chart, which stands for Program Evaluation Review Technique, is a project management tool used to easily organize tasks and timelines.
  23. Procurement means obtaining goods, services, and/or supplies. For projects, this means gathering everything necessary to complete a project.
  24. Project Constraints are any factors that can limit a project’s success such as risk, scope, timeline, budget, and quality issues.
  25. Project Life Cycle is the stages that a project goes through from initiation to planning, execution, and completion.
  26. Project Management Software is used for all aspects of project management from planning and resource allocation to communication between stakeholders and team members.
  27. Project Manager is the person in charge of all aspects involved in the planning, initiation, execution, completion, and results of a particular project.
  28. Project Plan is an approved document created before a project is executed that includes the scope, timeline, and cost of a project and acts as a guideline throughout.
  29. Quality Control is a standardized way to ensure that a product, service, or project meets the quality expectations of an organization and its customers.
  30. RACI Chart stands for Responsible, Accountable, Consulted, and Informed. This chart is a way to assign roles and responsibilities to stakeholders and team members on project activities.
  31. Reporting in project management is a visual way to check in on the status, progress, or results of a project. It is often done throughout a project’s life cycle and helps manage expectations and compare results against a baseline.
  32. Resource Allocation is the act of recognizing and assigning the best available resources (often within a budget) to a particular project.
  33. Resources are anything or anyone necessary to complete a project or task. This can range from talent (people) to finances, time, services, and tools.
  34. Risk Management is the process of looking out for, identifying, assessing, responding to, and managing risks that could impact a project. Risks can range from service disruptions to resource reallocations.
  35. Risk Mitigation is a strategy where the probability of risk or its impact on a project is minimized by taking certain precautions depending on the type of risk.
  36. Risk Owner is a person who is charged with the responsibility of risk management and mitigation.
  37. Scope is an outline of the boundaries of all aspects of a project and includes budget, timeline, deliverables, tasks, expectations, and so on.
  38. Scope Creep happens when the scope of a project expands uncontrollably and begins to take time and resources from other allocations.
  39. Scrum. Like agile project management, Scrum is a method of working in quick, short sprints. Small teams most often focus on the continuous development of project deliverables, while a leader works to remove obstacles.
  40. Task’s Slack (or float) is the maximum amount of time that a task can be delayed until it affects a project timeline. Tasks with zero slack are critical to complete before others with more flexibility.
  41. Sprint. In Scrums and agile project management, teams work in a continuous development cycle of short sprints. A sprint is a predetermined amount of time to complete one cycle, iteration, or task within a project.
  42. Stakeholders. Stakeholders are any individuals, teams, or organizations that may be impacted by a project outcome or aspect of it—and may need to be considered or consulted throughout.
  43. Status Report. A status report summarizes a project’s progress to date and is based on the initial project plan. It helps keep stakeholders informed, mitigate risks, and manage blockers throughout the project’s life cycle.
  44. SWOT Analysis
  45. Task Management The process of managing all aspects of tasks within a project—from overseeing teams working on specific line items to organizing the details and timelines of individual tasks.
  46. Timeline A breakdown of all tasks and activities within a particular project organized in chronological order with a start and end date.
  47. Use Case are all of the ways that an end-user could use a product or service and can be helpful to understand a project’s scope and requirements.
  48. Waterfall. Unlike Agile project planning, the traditional Waterfall method works sequentially through clearly established project phases and is often used in large-scale, fixed projects.
  49. Work Breakdown Structure (WBS) is an easily digestible and organized breakdown of a project into hierarchical sections and the tasks within each.
  50. Work In Progress (WIP) is pre-approved work (or labor, materials, and other project expenses) that has yet to be invoiced but is either completed or somewhat completed. In task management, it means that the task is being currently worked on—and will be delivered soon.