Project management Glossary of Terms


In this article I review popular terms in Project Management.

Project – a temporary set of actions which aim to create a unique, final deliverable.

This concise project definition reveals the major differences between characteristics of projects and operations:

* Is temporary which means that is positioned between a start date and an end date.
* Its outcome is unique. Although the product or service may be included in a large category (e.g. a building, a software product), the details can give the uniqueness of a project result.

A similar definition can be found into A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK® Guide): “a temporary endeavor undertaken to create a unique product or service”.

Project charter – a written summary of the scope, objectives and stakeholders, that formally authorizes the project.

Project management – the knowledge of planning, organizing, and managing project related resources in the effort to successfully achieve the project objectives.

Project manager – a person responsible for project evolution (planning, execution, closing).

Project stakeholders – individuals and organizations whose interests are affected by or exert influence over the project evolution (e.g. sponsors, customers, project manager, team members).

Assumptions – factors considered to be true in the planning phase.

As they are not certitudes, a certain degree of risk is involved. In fact, in Risk Identification process as part of the Project Risk Management, assumptions analysis takes an important role. Also, in Qualitative Risk Analysis, assumptions are important input data.

Examples of assumptions:

* a person or equipment will be available at a certain date
* the weather will allow an outdoor operation at a certain date
* stakeholders will take a decision in the next meeting

Assumptions should be documented as part of the basis for the risks list.

Baseline – A temporary state of a project used to measure progress against at a later stage in project evolution.

Constraints – restrictions that affect the project limiting the options about scope, resources and schedule.

By the imposed limitations, they are important input data for the Scope Definition and Planning as part of the Project Scope Management.

Examples of constraints:

* contractual obligations
* cost, time, quality
* actual technological level

Deliverable – a tangible, verifiable outcome of a project or a project phase.

Gantt chart – a graphic representation of the project components showing their dates and dependencies (developed in 1915 by Henry Gantt, an American engineer).

Milestone – a key event marking the end of a major stage of a project.

Actual Work – working time actually performed by resources assigned to tasks.

Actual work occurs when a task is partially or completely done. It is calculated from its total work and completion level as follows:

Actual Work = Work * %Work Complete

Consequently if a task has no work associated (this happens for example if there are no resources assigned), the Actual Work value cannot be set to a value other than zero. In any other conditions, specifying a value for Actual Work will set automatically a corresponding value for % Work Complete (and Remaining Work) and vice versa.

Remaining Work – working time left to be performed by resources assigned to tasks.

Remaining Work occurs when a task is partially done. It is calculated from its total work and completion level as follows:

Remaining Work = Work – Actual Work

Work – working time planned to be performed by resources assigned to tasks.

As an example if you have a task with an 8 hours duration and on which are working two resources, the work calculated on that task will be 16 hours.

Work breakdown structure (WBS) – a comprehensive, deliverable-oriented decomposition of the project scope.

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