Project Management Terminology and Glossary

Really great project management terminology and glossary were created by Jess Davidson, the author of Everyday Project Management. This is a book we recommend to everyone. If you are just starting your project management career and you are still passionate about learning new terminology, this resource is for you. When you get familiar with the basics, you can decide to move to some good project management certification program.

Project Management Glossary

activity A unit of work usually having a duration, cost, and resource requirement.

activity feed A display of all or the most relevant, useful activity occurring on a website, including user behavior, such as updating, contributing, browsing, and searching.

Agile Terminology

Agile An approach to management and a way of thinking that focuses on human communication, being flexible in the face of changing situations, and delivering workable, demonstrable results.

Agile Practice Guide Created in partnership with Agile Alliance, this book offers tools, guidelines, and a compilation of Agile approaches to project management, and is geared toward steering “traditional” project managers to a more-Agile approach.

analytical approach Overcoming challenges by reducing them to divisible elements to better comprehend each element and resolve an issue; in contrast to the systems approach.

bottom-up approach A progression from individual elements to the whole.

bottom-up budgeting A financial plan for a defined period of time where participants offer vital input in establishing their own budgets and, collectively, an overall budget.

clocking Summing project team member hours expended on various tasks and subtasks to generate reports that depict actual versus scheduled use of resources.

cloud-based Internet services, applications, or resources available to users on demand from a provider’s servers.

collaborative system An organized method in which multiple users can engage in a shared activity, often from remote locations.

contingency plan An alternative course of action in case the originally proposed one encounters significant barriers or road-blocks.

corporate culture The sum total of prevailing practices, methods of operation, beliefs, morals, and widely held notions that perpetuate themselves within an organization and which help to define, as well as limit, the range of behaviors and activities available to members of the culture.

cost benefit analysis A determination of whether to proceed with a proposed solution based on needed monetary, time, and resources versus the desirability of the outcome.

cost control Allocating costs to various project resources, fueled via software, by determining how much resource time and effort will be consumed.

crash time The least amount of time to accomplish a task if unlimited resources are available, such as all the equipment or money a project manager could seek.

crashing Allocating more resources to a task to complete it in less time than originally allotted, potentially enabling the entire project to be completed in less time.

critical path The longest complete path, in duration, of a project. It reveals which sequence of activities has the least amount of slack time.

critical task A single task along a critical path.

culture The lifestyle and prevailing beliefs of a population within a populated unit, such as a community, organization, state, or nation, or within an association, cyber community, or other method of affiliation.

customer portal A web page devised to enhance a user’s experience and command of functions that the website is designed to address.

dashboard A software-based control panel for one or more applications or network devices, often used interchangeably with the term customer portal.

Development and tasks terms

deliverables Something of value generated by a project management team as scheduled, offered to an authorizing party, reviewing committee, client or constituent, or other stakeholder, in the form of a plan, report, prescript procedure, product, service, or desired outcome.

dependent task A task or subtask that can’t be initiated until a predecessor task or several predecessor tasks are completed.

developer application programming interface (API) A set of communication protocols, subroutine definitions, and tools for creating software.

dummy task A link that shows an association or relationship between two otherwise parallel tasks along a CPM network.

embedded capabilities A controlling and operating system with a programmed, dedicated function that performs within a larger system.

environment One’s surroundings at work, one’s office, surrounding offices, and workplace.

filesharing A system for providing or distributing access to digital media, such as computer programs, documents, or multimedia.

flowchart A quality control tool that records information about process flow.

full path The charted route on a project critical path diagram from the first task to the final outcome.

hand-holding Guidance or support provided during a period of change, learning, or implementation.

holistic The organic or functional relations between the part and the whole.

interfacing The process of connecting with remote staff and project stakeholders, sharing data and information as needed.

jargon Language, expressions, or key terms employed in context by a particular group or industry (which might prove difficult for outsiders to comprehend).

Kanban and Lean glossary

Kanban Method Managing work and the creation of products by balancing demands with available capacity and response to system bottlenecks, emphasizing continual delivery while not overburdening a development team.

lean method A systematic approach to waste minimization without sacrificing productivity.

micro culture A culture within a division, department, branch, or project team, or within an entire corporation itself.

microblogging The practice of offering short, frequent posts representing a mix of blogging and instant messaging to be shared with a targeted audience.

milestone A notable event or juncture in a project that marks the start, or finish, of a significant activity.

Murphy’s Law The age-old axiom that if something can go wrong, it will go wrong.

network configuration A depiction of tasks and subtasks in a PERT or CPM analysis.

noncritical task A task within a CPM network for which slack time is available.

objective A desired outcome; something worth striving for; the overarching goal of a project; or the reason a project was originally initiated.

over-glut The combination of too much information and communication that can thwart a person’s ability to remain focused and be productive.

parallel tasks Two or more tasks that can be undertaken at the same time while not necessarily having the same starting and ending times.

Parkinson’s Law The age-old axiom that “Work expands so as to fill the time allotted for its completion.”

path A chronological sequence of tasks, each dependent on predecessors; tasks arranged in order, with predecessor tasks preceding dependent tasks.

peer-to-peer collaboration A network where individual computers can transmit information directly to one another, without passing through a centralized server.

PMI professional certification A status conferred by the Project Management Institute based on exacting standards and ongoing research that conveys that a recipient possesses real-world project management capabilities.

politics The relationship of two or more people with one another, including the degree of power and influence that the parties have over one another.

precedence If the completion of one event has priority over another, then that event has precedence over the other.

predecessor task A task that must be completed before another task can commence.

priority queue An element or factor in a situation that is deemed to have status and hence is served or addressed before another element or factor deemed to have lower status.

process The transformation of inputs into outputs through a set of interrelated tasks, steps, or actions performed to attain a particular outcome.

process framework Creating the foundation for a complete software operation, including umbrella activities applicable across the entire software process, by identifying a tiny number of framework activities applicable to all software projects.

process management Aligning operations within an organization to discover, analyze, measure, model, optimize, improve, and automate procedures.

project constraint A critical project element such as money, time, or human resources that often could be in short supply.

project director The individual to whom a project manager reports, who maintains a big-picture focus and not a day-to-day focus on project activities. Note: Project directors might have several project managers reporting to them and hence need briefings at specified intervals.

project environment The political, legal, technical, social, economic, and cultural backdrop within which a project team operates.

project lifecycle A multistep process including initiation, planning, execution, and closure, observed by project managers when progressing to project completion. Note: Some models include another step, performance and control, inserted before “closure.”

Project Management Institute The world’s largest project management organization with more than 500,000 global members and some 300 local chapters internationally; an authoritative source on project management, offering professional certifications that signify expertise and confer status on recipients.

project management suite A software package that includes strategically designed programs and support tools such as task management, milestones, file sharing, and time-tracking, to aid in successfully managing and competing projects.

project manager An individual with responsibility for overseeing all aspects of the day-to-day activities in pursuit of a project, including coordinating staff, managing the budget, allocating resources, and coordinating efforts to attain a specific, desired result.

project tracking A system for identifying and documenting progress performance for effective review and dissemination to others.

project visualization A graphic representation of quantifiable measures to enhance project members’ or stakeholders’ understanding of the progress on a project.

real-time The actual time in which something occurs. Note: In computing, a degree of computer responsiveness that users sense or experience as sufficiently immediate.

resource load simulators A tool or process that helps forecast resource needs before a project start date and helps gauge if requisite resources and skill levels are available.

return on investment (ROI) The ratio between the net profit and cost of investment resulting from consumption of resources, primarily used to measure the gain or loss on a venture relative to the amount of funds invested.

risk The degree to which a project or portions of one are in jeopardy of not being completed on time, on budget, and at the desired quality level.

schedule A planned, logical sequence of events with start and finish times, detailing resources required.

scheduling tools Project management software, organizers, electronic calendars, time management software, day planners, and other devices that support one’s use of time and enhance one’s productivity.

scope of work The level of activity and effort necessary—as measured by staff and nonstaff hours, days, resources to be consumed, and funds to be spent—to complete a project and achieve the desired outcome.

scrum An approach to effective team collaboration in which people can address complex or evolving issues, while delivering high-value products or outcomes; a communication tool within an Agile framework and a method for organizing tasks to promote agility.

security protocols A safeguarding operation applying cryptographic protection to ensure the integrity and security of information packets transmitted via a network connection.

servant leadership A leadership philosophy and practice that involves sharing authority, considering the needs of others first, and assisting people to develop their skills and to perform their work optimally.

slack Margin or extra room to accommodate anticipated potential shortfalls in planning.

slack time Time interval when someone has leeway as to when a particular task needs to be completed.

sprints In the Agile framework, doing work in pieces that eventually add up to desired results.

SSL security The standard safeguard technology used to establish an encrypted link between a browser and a web server, ensuring that all transmitted data remains private and intact.

stakeholder Someone who has a vested interest in having a project succeed; stakeholders could include the authorizing party, top management, department and division heads within an organization, other project managers and project management teams, clients, constituents, and parties external to an organization.

subcontract An agreement with an outside vendor for specific services, often to alleviate a project management team of a specific task, tasks, or an entire project.

subtask A slice of a complete task; a divisible unit of a larger task. Usually, a series of completed subtasks leads to the completion of a task.

suitability filters A consistent method for assessing the appropriateness of candidate projects to an Agile development approach and for identifying potential risks.

sync To link operationally.

systems approach A cohesive way to approach problems involving varied and interdependent relationships, standing in contrast to the analytical approach.

task A divisible, definable unit of work related to a project, which might include subtasks.

task dependencies The relationships among tasks which determine the order of activities to be performed.

task histories A software feature that provides information about executed tasks assembled in a relational database for review and analysis.

time line The scheduled start and stop times for a subtask, task, phase, or entire project.

Tinderbox A tool for capturing and visualizing ideas using flexible maps, charts, and flagged terms to more easily visualize intricate qualitative coding projects.

top-down approach A traditional approach to planning, managing, or budgeting that relies on the specifications, and vision, of upper management.

total slack time The cumulative sum of time that various tasks can be delayed without delaying the completion of a project.

trade-offs Options regarding the allocation of scarce resources.

“what-if?” analysis Facilitated by project management software, identifying the immediate impact of altering the order of subtasks, shuffling resources, or changing task dependencies.

work breakdown structure (WBS) Project plans that delineate all the tasks that must be accomplished to successfully complete a project from which scheduling, delegating, and budgeting are derived; a complete depiction of all the tasks necessary to achieve successful project completion.

work statement A detailed description of how a particular task or subtask will be completed, including the specific actions necessary, resources required, and outcome to be achieved.

work-life balance The ability to experience a sense of control and to stay productive and competitive at work while maintaining a happy, healthy home life with sufficient leisure; attaining focus and awareness, despite seemingly endless tasks and activities competing for one’s time and attention.

Project Management Recourses and materials

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