Different Project Management Terms Beginners Should Know

Project Management Terms

Project managers, who have just begun working on a project, may find it really stressful and time-consuming to manage multiple tasks, especially if they don’t know the basics. 

Imagine you get a promotion as a project manager and are now solely responsible for various management tasks. If you have just entered this field, there is a lot you don’t know and, instead of covering the basics, you take all the responsibilities head-on. 

Doing so, you get most issues resolved and meet your project deliverables – but, when it came to reporting, you were clueless as to how to go about it. You winged the entire project execution process, and now the theory of it all is taking a toll on you. 

Many project managers take the go-with-the-flow approach whether it is dealing with usual management activities or resolving potential project issues. However, this approach usually spells disaster. 

So, what’s the best way to avoid any such hurdles? Learn the basics! And, that’s exactly what we cover in this chapter of our PM Guide. Let’s dig into our project management glossary.

Common Project Management Terms

Activity

A project activity can be defined as the smallest unit of work that needs to be done in order to complete a project.

Agile 

It refers to a set of methodologies utilized to meet the ever-changing client requirements. Agile projects usually do not have set or fixed scope, making this method extremely adaptive to changes proposed by clients. 

Assumption

An assumption in project management refers to assuming about possible factors or situations that may occur in the project planning process that it may actually happen.

Baseline

This refers to the various schedules and costs defined at the start of a project. This criterion is used as a basis for project monitoring and evaluating processes.

Budget

The amount of money allocated to a specific project is referred to as the project budget. It can also refer to a comprehensive set of expenses or revenues.

Backlog

It refers to all the pending tasks that need to be accomplished for completing a project at hand.

Critical Path

It defines a set of activities that need to be done in order to complete the project in time and as per the pre-defined schedule. 

Deliverable

It is any tangible or intangible object that is produced at the end of project execution. Basically, deliverables are the end result of the project execution process. 

Dependencies

Any work, task, activity, situation, or event that is either dependant on the project right now or sometime in the future. 

Effort

The number of people or labor needed to complete a task is known as effort.

Issue

Any situation or event that can cause problems in project execution. 

Forecast

It refers to any prediction or estimation made on a project’s status, including how it will unfold in the future.

Functional Requirements

These requirements cover all the working characteristics of a product.

KPI

KPI stands for Key Performance Indicators. These indicators basically measure a project’s success by defining various metrics for different departments, such as marketing, sales, etc.

Kickoff Meeting

The very first meeting conducted between stakeholders and the project team. 

Lag

Lag is any delay or necessary break taken between project tasks. 

Matrix Organization

An organization with a matrix structure has a different work environment. In such type of organizations, employees report to more than one manager. 

Negotiation

Any discussion between teams to resolve difference on opinions or any other issues that negatively affect project execution.

Objective

It is a crisp, clear statement that specifies what a specific task or activity is bound to accomplish.

Optimistic Duration

The shortest time estimated to complete a specific project task or activity is known as optimistic duration.

Performance Measurement Baseline

This creates a point of comparison of all the other baselines to evaluate project performance. It is created after accumulating the baselines for scope, cost, and schedule. 

Remote Team

It is a team that works for an organization from different geographical locations. Usually, such teams require a team collaboration tool to make sure they meet their deadlines effortlessly. 

Risk

Risk is any positive or negative event that can affect project execution.

Stakeholder

Any individual, team, or an organization that is interested in the successful completion of a project.

Scope 

It consists of all the requirements that need to be fulfilled to complete a project successfully. 

Scope Creep

It is any change in project scope that takes place without any formal procedure.

Virtual Team

A remote or virtual team consists of people from different locations, organizations, and hierarchies. 

Techniques/Analysis/Tools

GERT

GERT stands for ‘Graphical Evaluation and Review Technique’. This network analysis technique uses the Monte Carlo simulation to formulate project duration estimates and give a probabilistic approach to visualize network logic.

Balanced Scorecard

It is a measuring tool or concept that helps project managers assess whether the project activities align with its objectives and goals.

Delphi Technique

It is an estimation technique based on an expert consensus. Experts make different estimates individually and review them together in a group before arriving at a final set of estimates.

PERT

PERT stands for ‘Program Evaluation and Review Technique’. This is a statistical method that is mainly used to track and analyze project duration and activities. 

PEST Analysis

This analysis is performed to find out the Political, Economic, Social, and Technological factors that may potentially affect a project. 

Qualitative Risk Analysis

A subjective analysis technique used by project managers to evaluate the probability of various risks and their potential impact on the project.

Quantitative Risk Analysis

This objective approach is in contrast to the qualitative one, which evaluates project risks and its impact mathematically.

RAID Log

RAID stands for ‘Risks, Assumptions, Issues, Dependencies’. A RAID log is a PM tool that helps to record various developments in these four phases. 

S-curve Analysis

A PM technique that compares a project’s cumulative costs at any specific point with the cumulative cost baseline defined during the planning phase. 

Task Analysis

It specifies in detail the resources or actions required to complete a project or task.

Variance Analysis

This determines the deviation between actual performance and the estimated performance.

SWOT Analysis

A project planning tool that evaluates strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats of a project.

Documents

Business Case

It is the first document that outlines all the potential outcomes of a specific project. It usually includes cost, benefits, and specific reasons for undertaking the project.

Human Resource Management Plan

This HRM plan mainly specifies the relationship among the personnel working on a specific project. It also includes all the roles and responsibility of each individual team member. 

Schedule

A detailed list of project milestones and activities that are defined in a logical order right from the start date to the end date.

Use-case

It documents the complete process an end-user needs to perform in order to achieve specific goals.

Processes

Acquisition Process

It is the process of acquiring all the resources and personnel necessary for project planning, initiation, and execution.

Change Management

It refers to the process of identifying, documenting, and approving various changes in a project. It also includes guidelines on how those changes can be carried out in a project.

Closing Process

It refers to those processes that are performed to formally terminate all activities or tasks of a project.

Cost Estimation

It is the process of calculating project cost estimates by considering all the resources, phases, or activities.

Contingency Plan

It is a pre-defined process for specifying the alternative course of action that needs to be performed in case of certain project risks or issues.

Earned Value

It is a process for monitoring the project plan, actual work to be done, and the work completed to check if a specific project is on schedule.

Lifecycle

It refers to the entire process of defining project deliverables. There are numerous types of project lifecycles and each type has different sub-phases.

Overall Change Control

It refers to all the change-related process that need to be performed during project execution. It includes the coordination, management, and evaluation of project changes.

Scrum

Scrum is an iterative development procedure mainly used in software development projects, which helps teams to set clear, concise project goals over a specified period of time. 

Approach/Method/Methodologies

Lean Six Sigma

It is a PM method that aims at eliminating defects and wastes to lower project costs.

QCD

QCD stands for Quality, Cost, Delivery. This is a management approach that focuses on analyzing and assessing a production process by keeping in mind three factors: quality, cost, and delivery.

Study

Feasibility Study

This study is conducted to evaluate how practical or “feasible” it is to actually execute a specific project. 

Representations

Gantt Chart

It is a type of bar chart that graphically represents all the tasks that constitute a project. All the tasks are shown vertically, while the time-frame is marked horizontally.

Bar Chart

It is a graphical representation of a project’s start and end dates that are placed in a logical order.

Kanban

A visual communication approach, Kanban represents project tasks using virtual cards or sticky notes to track work progress.

Milestone

They specify work progress in project timelines. It also specifies the progress needed to be met in order to complete the project in time.

Timeline

A graphical representation of project activities in a sequential manner.

X-Bar Control Charts

They are a combination of two charts – one for mean and another for ranges of a specific number of samples. The samples are of the same size and are periodically gathered by the team or project managers.

Phases

Initiation Phase

In a project lifecycle, the initiation phase marks the point where project managers and their teams receive authorization to start the project. They sit together to work on defining project goals and objectives.

Models

Maturity Model

This model assesses the extent to which a company’s processes, methods, and decisions are optimized and standardized against a set of different external benchmarks. As a result, it determines a company's maturity level. 

Waterfall Model

A basic type of project management lifecycle model in which no two development phases overlap. The phases in this model are sequential and non-iterative.

WBS

WBS stands for Work Breakdown Structure. It is a hierarchical and comprehensive model that defines the deliverables that constitute the project scope.

Now that you know the basic terms every newbie in project management should know, it will definitely be easier for you to not only manage your team – but understand what is required to achieve more goals. 

Let’s move on to the next chapter – “Popular Project Management Questions Every Beginner Asks”. 


Summary Questions:

Now that you have a little idea about project management terms, let us cover a few basic questions asked about these terms.

Q1. What is CPM in project management?

CPM stands for Critical Path Method in project management. This method is a step-by-step technique for planning various processes in projects. This technique also defines critical and non-critical tasks.

Q2. What is WBS in project management?

WBS in project management stands for Word Breakdown Structure. WBS is a key project deliverable. It organizes different teams’ work into manageable sections. 

Q3. What is CP in project management?

CP is actually short for Project Cost Management. It defines project cost, time, and resources limits for executing a project.

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About the author

David is a Project Management expert. He has been published in Jeffbullas.com, Hr.com, and eLearningIndustry. As a project planning and execution expert at ProProfs, he has offered a unique outlook on improving workflows and team efficiency.

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