Glossary of Project Management Terms
Agency A formally organized unit of government having administrative,
programmatic, legal, fiduciary, and regulatory functions ascribed to it through
Legislation, Federal mandate, or other means and for which it receives or
Assumptions Assumptions are factors that, for planning purposes, are considered to be true,
real, or certain. Assumptions affect all aspects of project planning, as are part
of the progressive elaboration of the project. Project teams frequently
identify, document, and validate assumptions as part of their planning process.
Assumptions generally involve a degree of risk.
Backup Package A backup package consists of all the related supporting documentation for
expenditures required to successfully pass an audit.
Business Alignment Strategic business alignment represents an agency’s capability to coordinate
all the activities of its components for the purpose of achieving its objectives.
A key to the success of any project is its alignment with the strategic direction
of the sponsoring organization.
Business Case The information necessary to enable approval, authorization and policy
making bodies to assess a project proposal and reach a reasoned decision.
Change Control Board
A formally constituted group of stakeholders responsible for approving or
rejecting changes to the project baselines.
Communication The transmission and validated receipt of information so that the recipient
understands what the sender intends, and the sender is assured that the intent is
A plan describing the organization and control of information transmitted by
whatever means to satisfy the needs of the project. It includes the processes of
transmitting, filtering, receiving and interpreting or understanding information
using appropriate skills according to the application in the project
environment. It is at once the master and the servant of a project in that it
provides the means for interaction between the many disciplines, functions
and activities, both internal and external to the project, and which together
result in the successful completion of that project.
Technical and administrative activities concerned with the creation,
maintenance and controlled change, throughout the life of the product, of an
item's descriptive and governing characteristics, which can be expressed:
1. In functional terms, i.e. what performance the item is expected to achieve,
2. In physical terms, i.e. what the item should look like and consist of when it
Consequences The results following some activity or activities.
Constraints Applicable restrictions that will affect the performance of the project. Any
factor that affects when an activity can be scheduled.
Constantly striving to make things better, which is a particular aim of a
Quality Assurance Program
Contract Administration Managing the relationship with the seller
Contract Review Monitoring and control of performance and progress, making payments,
recommending modifications and approving contractor's actions to ensure
compliance with contractual terms during contract execution.
Contract Closeout Completion and settlement of the contract, including resolution of any open
Cost Analysis The analysis of the cost elements of a proposal or on-going work. It includes
verification of cost data, evaluation of all elements of costs, and projection of
these data to determine the effect on price.
Cost Control System Any system of keeping costs within the bounds of budgets or standards based
upon work actually performed.
Cost Variance (CV) 1) Any difference between the budgeted cost of an activity and the actual cost
of that activity. 1) In earned value, EV (Earned Value) less ACWP (Actual
Cost of Work Performed) or
Crashing Taking action to decrease the total project duration after analyzing a number
of alternatives to determine how to get the maximum duration compression for
the least cost.
Critical Path Analysis Procedure for calculating the critical path and floats in a network.
Critical Path Method
A network analysis technique used to predict project duration by analyzing
which sequence of activities (which path) has the least amount of schedule
flexibility (the least amount of float). Early dates are calculated by means of a
forward pass, using a specified start date. Late dates are calculated by means
of a backward pass, starting from a specified completion date (usually the
forward pass’ calculated early finish date.
Deliverable Any measurable, tangible, verifiable outcome, result, or item that must be
produced to complete a project or part of a project. Often used more narrowly
in reference to an external deliverable, which is a deliverable that is subject to
approval by the project sponsor or customer
The measurement of physical properties stated in the specifications for a
product/deliverable and compare them with the values for each requirement
documented in the product specifications.
Delphi Technique A process where a consensus view is reached by consultation with experts.
Often used as an estimating technique.
Design Reviews A formal, documented, comprehensive and systematic examination of a design
to evaluate the design requirements and the capability of the design to meet
these requirements and to identify problems and propose solutions.
Documentation The collection of reports, user information and references for distribution and
retrieval, displays, back-up information and records pertaining to the project.
Earned Value The physical work accomplished plus the authorized budget for this work.
The sum of the approved cost estimates (may include overhead allocation) for
activities (or portions of activities) completed during a given period (usually
project-to-date). Previously called budgeted cost of work performed (BCWP)
for an activity or a group of activities.
Engineering or Design
Change Notice (ECN)
The formal release of an engineering or design change.
Engineering or Design
Change Proposal (ECP)
A proposal submitted by the seller in response to a buyer’s request for an ECP
to change the existing contract effort. Only the buyer can initiate the request
for an Engineering Change Proposal. This activity is usually preceded by a
Request For Change. The user, buyer, or the seller can initiate a Request For
Change to the contract. It is an exploratory activity.
Executive Sponsor The sponsor is an executive responsible for the strategic direction of a project.
An Executive Sponsor should have the authority to define project goals,
secure resources, and resolve organizational and priority conflicts. Multiple
studies indicate a direct correlation between the lack of project sponsorship
and project failure. Well-meaning but costly mistakes include substituting a
steering committee for a sponsor, and assuming that a big-budget and highly
visible project does not need a formal sponsor. The Executive Sponsor’s
primary role is to:
· Champion IT projects from initiation to completion
· Participate in the development and selling of the project business
· Present overall vision and priorities for the project
· Assist in determining final funding and project direction
· Serve as executive liaison to key State stakeholders, e.g., legislators,
Agency directors and managers
· Chair the project steering committee
Roles assigned to the project manager that are not directly associated with the
work of the project.
Formal Acceptance Accepting the delivery of a deliverable or product according to established
processes normally based on verifying that it is in accordance with the Product
Description or specifications of the Project Deliverable.
Gantt Chart or Schedule A graphic display of schedule-related information. In the typical Gantt or bar
chart, activities or other project elements are listed down the left side of the
chart, dates are shown across the top, and activity durations are shown as dateplaced
Information Distribution Making needed information available to project stakeholders in a timely
Roles assigned to the PM or PM team directly related to the work of the
The acquisition, management and distribution of relevant information to the
parties who need to know.
Lessons Learned The learning gained from the process of performing the project. Lessons
learned may be identified at any point. Also considered a project record.
Life -Cycle A collection of generally sequential project phases whose name and number
are determined by the control needs of the organization or organizations
involved in the project.
Milestones Significant events in the project, usually including the completion of a major
Modeling The creation of a physical representation or mathematical description of an
object, system or problem that reflect the functions or characteristics of the
item involved. Model building may be viewed as both a science and an art.
MOU Any written agreement-in-principle describing how a commitment will be
Multi-Attribute Utility Mathematical tools for defining and comparing alternatives to assist in
decision-making about complex alternatives, especially when groups are
involved. They are designed to answer the question, “What is the best
choice?” The models are based on the assumption that the apparent
desirability of a particular alternative depends on how its attributes are
A schematic display of the sequential and logical relationship of the activities
which comprise the project. Two popular drawing conventions or notations for
scheduling are arrow and precedence diagramming.
A depiction of the project organization arranged so as to relate work packages
to organizational units.
The task of organizational change management is to bring order to an
organization that is responding to a change event. It is not pretending that
change is or can always be well organized and disciplined.
Performance Indexes Project planning and status indicators that periodically measure variances
(usually cost and schedule) and require documented corrective actions to
eliminate the variances that exceed predetermined thresholds.
PERT Program Evaluation and Review Techniques (PERT). An event-oriented
network analysis technique used to estimate program duration when there is
uncertainty in the individual activity duration estimates. PERT applies the
critical path method, using durations that are computed by a weighted average
of optimistic, pessimistic, and most likely duration estimates. PERT computes
the standard deviation of the completion date from those of the path’s activity
durations. Also know as the Method of Moments Analysis.
PMBOK® Project Management Body of Knowledge® An inclusive term that describes
the sum of knowledge within the profession of project management. As with
other professions—such as law, medicine, and accounting—the body of
knowledge rests with the practitioners and academics that apply and advance
it. The PMBOK® includes proven, traditional practices that are widely
applied, as well as innovative and advanced ones that have seen more limited
Probability The likelihood of occurrence. The ratio of the number of chances by which an
event may happen (or not happen) to the sum of the chances of both
happening and not happening.
Procurement Liaison In some governmental entities, this person is designated to be responsible for
the procurement functions for the agency and acts a liaison with the Materials
Management Office and/or the Information Technology Management Office.
Procurement Planning Determining what to procure and when.
Product-oriented WBS A project's product components or elements that make up the overall
deliverable assembled into some hierarchical arrangement that facilitates
project management tracking and control.
Project Baseline Control Established baselines for scope, cost and schedule under some form of version
control. Once the project has been contained in these three dimensions, it can
be measured, monitored and controlled. If a project does not have such
baseline management, it cannot be managed and measured as a closed system,
and must be therefore considered to be out of control.
Project Budget The amount and distribution of money allocated to a project.
The person who espouses the project and secures for it necessary support and
resources. See also Project Sponsor.
Management of approved changes to project work content caused by a scope
of work change or a special circumstance on the project (weather, strikes,
Project Charter A document issued by senior management that formally authorizes the
existence of a project. It provides the project manager with the authority to
apply organizational resources to project activities.
Project Control Plan A plan describing a sequence of activities which are used to steer the project
towards conformance with project requirements
Project Deliverable(s) Any measurable, tangible, verifiable outcome, result, or item that must be
produced to complete a project or part of a project. Often used more narrowly
in reference to an external deliverable, which is a deliverable that is subject to
approval by the project sponsor or customer.
Project Leadership Leadership in the context of a project, e.g. leading with a focus on the project's
goals and objectives and the effectiveness and efficiency of the process.
Tools, processes, skills and behaviors that are used to guide project
Project Manager (PM) The individual responsible for managing a project.
Project Objectives Project scope expressed in terms of outputs, required resources and timing.
Project Organization The orderly structuring of project participants.
A graphical display of the project’s organization structure.
Project Plan A formal, approved document used to guide both project execution and project
control. The primary uses of the project plan are to document planning
assumptions and decisions, facilitate communication among stakeholders, and
document approved scope, cost, and schedule baselines. A project plan may
be summary or detailed.
Project Procurement The processes required to acquire goods and services to attain project scope
from outside the performing organization. It consists of procurement
planning, solicitation planning, solicitation, source selection, contract
administration, and contract closeout.
Project Repository A place (either physical or virtual) established for the consistent and effective
storage and retrieval of all project information for the efficient use by the
project manager and his/her project Team.
Project Reviews, , An evaluation of current project results or procedures.
Project Schedule The planned dates for performing activities and the planned dates for meeting
Project Scope The work that must be done to deliver a product with the specified features
The person who has ultimate authority over the project. The executive sponsor
provides project funding, resolves issues and scope changes, approves major
deliverables and provides high-level direction. They also champion the project
within their organization.
Depending on the project, and the organizational level of the executive
sponsor, they may delegate day-to-day tactical management to a project
sponsor. If assigned, the project sponsor represents the executive sponsor on a
day-to-day basis, and makes most of the decisions requiring sponsor approval.
If the decision is large enough, the project sponsor will take it to the executive
Project Team Building The forming of a group of people into a team that is to work together for the
benefit of the project. It can be achieved in a formal manner by use of startup
meetings, seminars, workshops, etc. and in an informal manner by getting the
team to work well together. Motivating and resolving conflicts between
individual members of the team are important elements of teamwork. Cultural
characteristics of the team members should be given full consideration.
Different cultures create different working needs.
The full-time and part-time resources assigned to work on the deliverables of
the project, and achieve the project objectives. They are responsible for:
· Understanding the work to be completed
· Planning out the assigned activities in more detail if needed.
· Completing assigned work within the budget, timeline and quality
· Informing the Project Manager of issues, scope changes, risk and
· Proactively communicating status and managing expectations
The project team can be made up from within one functional department or
organization, or from many. A cross-functional team has members from
multiple departments or organizations, and typically involves matrix
Projectized Organization Any organizational structure in which the project manager has full authority to
assign priorities and to direct the work of individuals assigned to the project.
Quality Assurance (QA) 1) The process of evaluating overall project performance on a regular basis to
provide confidence that the project will satisfy the relevant quality standards.
2) The organizational unit that is assigned responsibility for quality control.
Quality Control (QC) 1) The process of monitoring specific project results to determine if they
comply with relevant quality standards and identifying ways to eliminate
causes of unsatisfactory performance. 2) The organizational unit that is
assigned responsibility for quality control.
Quality Management That aspect of the overall management function that determines and
implements the quality policy.
A document setting out the specific quality practices, resources and sequence
of activities relevant to a particular product, service, contract or project.
Quality Measurement See Quality Metrics
Quality Metrics The tools and techniques of quality measurement that include: benefit/cost
analysis, benchmarking, flowcharting, both cause and effect diagrams and
system or process charts, design of experiments, and cost of quality.
Quality Plan A plan identifying which quality standards are relevant to the project, and
determining how to satisfy them.
An information vehicle that provides a precise description of a specific
physical item, procedure, or result for the purpose of purchase and/or
implementation of the item or service.
A structure that relates the project organization structure to the work
breakdown structure to help ensure that each element of the project’s scope is
assigned to a responsible individual.
Risk Assessment The process of identifying potential risks, quantifying their likelihood of
occurrence and assessing their likely impact on the project.
Risk Avoidance Risk avoidance is changing the project plan to eliminate the risk or to protect
the project objectives from its impact. It is a tool of the risk response planning
A template designed to assist the project manager in an assessment of the risks
associated with the project.
Risk Identification Determining which risks might affect the project and documenting their
characteristics. Tools used include brainstorming and checklists.
Risk Management An organized assessment and control of project risks.
Risk Management Plan Documents how the risk processes will be carried out during the project. This
is the output of risk management planning.
Risk Metrics The tools and techniques for risk monitoring and control. They include:
project risk response audits, periodic project risk reviews, earned value
analysis, technical performance measurement, and additional risk response
Risk Mitigation Risk mitigation seeks to reduce the probability and/or impact of a risk to
below an acceptable threshold.
A system for controlling changes to the project schedule.
Determining the start and finish dates for project activities, using tools and
techniques that include mathematical analysis (CPM, GERT, and PERT),
duration compression, simulation, resource leveling, project management
software and coding structure.
A system for the management or rearrangement of the activities in a project
schedule to improve the outcome based on the latest available information.
Schedule Tracking A process of periodically documenting the factors affecting time constraint
status during the course of a project.
Schedule Variance 1)_ Any difference between the scheduled completion of an activity and the
actual completion of that activity. 2) In earned value, EV less BCWS = SV.
Scope Definition Subdividing the major deliverables into smalle r, more manageable
components to provide better control.
Scope Management Plan A plan describing the management of the project's scope, from given goals
and objectives, through explicit definition, to production, to satisfactory
delivery of the required product.
The scope statement provides a documented basis for making future project
decisions and for confirming or developing common understanding of project
scope among the stakeholders. As the project progresses, the scope statement
may need to be revised or refined to reflect approved changes to the scope of
Sensitivity Analysis A method of testing the degree of sensitivity of a system, whether physical or
notional, to incremental changes to its variables. This analysis enables the
determination of those variables that are the most significant, and possibly the
selection of the best or optimal settings or solution to a problem.
Simulations A simulation uses a project model that translates the uncertainties specified at
a detailed level into their potential impact on objectives that are expressed at
the level of the total project. Project simulations use computer models and
estimates of risk at a detailed level, and are typically performed using the
Monte Carlo technique.
Staffing Plan A plan that identifies competent people suited to the various types of work
involved in the project that becomes the basis for determining the project
Stakeholder Individuals and organizations that are actively involved in the project, or
whose interests may be positively or negatively affected as a result of project
execution or project completion. They may also exert influence over the
project and its results.
A plan for the management of expectations of the people who have a vested
interest in the outcome of the project.
Statement of Work
A description of all the work required to complete a project, which is provided
by the customer.
Status Report A written report given to both the project team and to a responsible person on
a regular basis stating the position of an activity, work package, or whole
project. Status Reports should be used to control the project and to keep
management informed of project status.
Any organization having more characteristics of a projectized organization
than a functional organization. That is, more full-time project mangers with
considerable authority and full-time project administration staff.
A common approach to implementing a quality improvement program within
Variance Any actual or potential deviation from an intended or budgeted figure or plan.
A variance can be a difference between intended and actual time. Any
difference between the projected duration for an activity and the actual
duration of the activity. Also, the difference between projected start and finish
dates and actual or revised start and finish dates.
· The examination of the quality of an operational procedure or test by
simulating the actual execution but bypassing high risk or expensive
operations. It ensures that personnel and equipment are ready to carry
out the real thing, or
· A peer group mentally stepping through software design and logic
flow with test cases to identify errors.
A deliverable -oriented grouping of project elements that organizes and defines
the total work scope of the project. Each descending level represents an
increasingly detailed definition of the project work.
Work Package A deliverable at the lowest level of the work breakdown structure, when that
deliverable may be assigned to another project manger to plan and execute.
This may be accomplished through the use of a subproject where the work
package may be further decomposed into activities.