Project Management Terms: A Quickstart Glossary for Newbies (Part 2)

In our Quickstart Project Management Glossary for Newbies, Part 1, we revealed the secrets behind Gantt charts, the Critical Path Method, and more. And now your boss has walked in with more confusing jargon to muddle your brain: "Can you double-check our resources to make sure this project isn't in danger of scope creep?" Uh, what resources? And scope creep?

Relax, it gets easier with time. Here are a few more key project management terms to learn that will educate you and boost your confidence before you talk to the boss again.

Project Portfolio Management (PPM Your project portfolio is much like any other portfolio. It contains all of your best work as an easy reference tool so that you can properly manage your resources. It keeps all of the processes, methods, and technologies right at your hand. With the help of PPM you can mix-and-match your resources for optimal planning before a new project begins.

Resources  They're all you've got. Literally. Your project resources are anything and everything you need to complete your task. They may include people, tools, money, facilities, or other tangible necessities.

Scope — For project managers, scope is the information and work required to complete a project. Gather your "how-to"s before jumping in blind - How will we fund it? What are our milestones? How will we define success? Documenting your project scope should be a part of your planning process. Controlling it becomes the challenge once you have begun.

Scope Creep  Everything seems to be going fine, but then those little issues sneak up on you and suddenly everything is wrong. Maybe it's the uncontrolled growth of a project. Or the new feature you add to your project plan without updating the constraints. This is scope creep and it usually appears near the end of your project timeline. If it occurs, you risk overspending or missing deadlines. Update your budget, schedule, and resources with every project addition to eliminate scope creep before it can surprise you.

Stakeholders  The people who have an interest in the completion of the project. Your team, your investors, your boss. Simple as that.

What-if Scenario Analysis (WISA)  The key to the WISA is to anticipate many different possible project outcomes and create solutions before they occur. Examples include a delayed deliverable, going over budget, or a change in available resources. By preparing for those "what-if" situations, you will be able to act quickly in any situation.

Work Breakdown Structure (WBS) — This is how you break down your work into smaller deliverables. It is a hierarchical tree structure that builds up to a final product. In Wrike you can build this hierarchy by creating sub-folders for your projects. Have you heard of small wins? Reducing projects into bite-sized pieces can help boost your team's productivity. Start with your overall project folder, and break it down further and further until you can effortlessly manage its every component.

With these words in your knowledge handbook, you are one step closer to successfully taking charge of your new project management role. Now, what did the boss ask for again? Gantt Charts? Critical path? No problem. Report back and confidently say: "Our critical path is on track. I checked the Gantt charts and we have a few days of free float for some tasks. Let me show you what I've found..."

Did we leave out any terms that still leave you puzzled? Let us know! There are more "Project Management Basics" coming soon, so check back later for more information you can't go a day without!

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