Project Management Guide

Glossary

a

Actual Cost of Work Performed (ACWP)
The actual cost of work done, compared to what was budgeted in the Budgeted Cost of Work Performed (BCWP).
Adaptive Project Framework (APF)
A project management methodology that grew from the idea that most IT projects can’t be managed using traditional PM methods. Work is done in stages and evaluated after each one.
Agile
A project management methodology characterized by building products using short cycles of work that allow for rapid production and constant revision.
Allocation
The act of assigning available resources.

b

Baseline
The original cost and schedule set for a project. The baseline helps determine how far the team has deviated from the original plan. Based on this knowledge, you’ll be able to estimate more accurately the time and resources your team needs to complete the next project.
Benefits Realization
A PM methodology that focuses on whether your deliverable gives the customer the benefit they expect. This methodology ensures you deliver real value to customers and stakeholders.
Budget
A general list of planned expenses.
Budgeted Cost of Work Performed (BCWP)
Measures the budgeted cost of actual work done. Not to be confused with the Budgeted Cost of Work Scheduled (BCWS).
Budgeted Cost of Work Scheduled (BCWS)
The approved budget allocated to complete a project deliverable (or Work Breakdown Structure) within a specific time period.
Burn down chart
An X-Y axis graph that shows the number of tasks that need to be completed (on the vertical axis) versus the time remaining (on the horizontal axis). These charts are often used in Scrum.
Business Process Modeling (BPM)
The analysis of an organization’s business processes in order to improve and optimize procedures.

c

Change management
An area of management that looks at organizational change. The goal is to efficiently manage change so that the negative impact on the infrastructure or budget is negligible.
Constraint
The limitations of your project, including cost, human resources, time limits, quality, and potential ROI.
Cost overrun
An excess cost that is above budget.
Critical Chain Project Management (CCPM)
A PM methodology that focuses on resources by building a project schedule and identifying the most crucial tasks.
Critical Path Method (CPM)
A method used to model projects that uses all tasks, time estimates, dependencies, and final deliverables to calculate the optimal project timeline. CPM was developed by the private sector in the 1950s. The US Navy has its own version, PERT.

d

Deliverable
A product produced as a result of a project. A deliverable can be a physical product, a file, or software.
Dependency
A condition where a task or milestone relies on other tasks to be completed (or started) before it can be performed.

e

Earned Value Management (EVM)
A way to measure project progress using scope, schedule, and cost.
Event chain diagram
A visual representation of how project events interact, typically used in event chain methodology (ECM).
Event Chain Methodology (ECM)
A PM methodology built on the concept that potential risks often lie outside the project’s scope. It’s important to prepare for these risks and plan what to do if they occur.
Extreme Programming (XP)
A PM methodology designed to improve the quality of software and the development team’s ability to adapt to customer needs. Work is done in short cycles (AKA sprints) with frequent iterations and constant collaboration with stakeholders.
Extreme Project Management (XPM)
A PM methodology where the project plan, budget, and final deliverable can be changed to fit evolving needs, no matter how far along the project is.

f

Float
Also known as “slack,” this is the amount of time you can potentially spend on a task before it affects the project timeline. Float is the extra cushioning protecting important deadlines. Note that items on your critical path will have “zero free float” — if you want to maintain your schedule, they cannot be delayed.

g

Gantt chart
This horizontal bar chart devised by Henry Gantt at the turn of the 20th century has been used by project managers worldwide to visualize project schedules. It includes all of a project’s tasks, milestones, and deadlines, and illustrates task dependencies.
Goal
An objective or milestone set by an individual or organization.
Goal setting
The act of creating objectives that are specific, measurable, and time-bound.

h

HERMES
A less popular PM methodology created by the Swiss government to manage software projects.

i

Iteration
A variation or improvement on the original.
Iterative development
A process where instead of pouring resources into one final deliverable (as in the Waterfall method), work is done in a series of smaller stages to keep the project moving.

k

Kanban
A visual approach to project management where teams create physical representations of their tasks, often using sticky notes on whiteboards (or online apps). Tasks are moved through predetermined stages to track progress and identify common roadblocks.
Key Performance Indicator (KPI)
Measurable indicators of where your project stands, determined before project work begins. Did we hit 10,000 page views today? Can we make 50 sales calls this week? Have we doubled revenue? It’s helpful to use KPIs to navigate the project path and, if needed, get back on course.
Kickoff meeting
The initial meeting for a new project during which a project manager lays out all the goals, plans, and expectations for the team and its stakeholders.

l

Lean
Also known as “lean manufacturing” or “lean production,” this PM methodology focuses on streamlining and cutting waste. The goal is to do more with less and deliver value to the customer using less manpower, money, and time.
Lean Six Sigma
Combining the minimalist approach of Lean (“no waste!”) and the quality improvement goals of Six Sigma (“zero defects!”), Lean Six Sigma focuses on eliminating waste and defects so that projects are more efficient, cost-effective, and reflective of customers’ needs.

m

Management
The act of marshaling people and resources to accomplish a set of objectives.

p

PDU (Professional Development Unit)
A continuing education unit. To maintain certification as a Project Management Professional (PMP), you will need ongoing professional development measured in PDUs.
PERT (Program Evaluation and Review Technique)
A statistical tool for visualizing a project’s schedule and the sequence or critical path of tasks that must be completed on time for the project to meet its deadline. Developed by the US Navy in the 1950s, the private sector had its own version called critical path method (CPM).
PRINCE2 (Projects In Controlled Environments)
A PM methodology for managing projects characterized by a product-based planning approach. Especially popular with the UK government, it gives teams greater control of resources and the ability to manage risk effectively.
PRiSM (Projects Integrating Sustainable Methods)
A project management methodology that aims to complete projects while reducing a company’s negative environmental and social impact. It is, quite literally, green project management.
Process-based project management
A PM methodology that aligns project objectives with a company’s stated mission and corporate values.
Project management
The act of managing all aspects of a project, from teams to tasks to tools.
Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK)
Overseen by the Project Management Institute, this book collects the standard terminology and guidelines for project management.
Project Management Professional (PMP)
A certified practitioner of project management. Certification is offered through the Project Management Institute.
Project manager
The professional in charge of planning and executing a project and leading a project team.
Project plan
A formal document outlining the details of a project, including its scope, objectives, budget, and criteria for success. The project plan is approved before any work is started.
Project portfolio
A suite of an organization’s best projects and a repeatable process to execute future projects.
Project Portfolio Management (PPM)
A method used by organizations to ensure that all projects align with the overall business objectives.
Project team
The group of people who work with a project manager to execute a project plan.

r

RASCI chart
A tool used at the initiation phase of a project that details the roles of the project team. RASCI stands for Responsible (those doing the work), Accountable (the person ensuring the work is done), Sign-Off (those who will approve the work), Consulted (those whose input is needed), and Informed (those who must receive status updates). It’s also known as a Responsibility Assignment Matrix (RAM), Linear Responsibility Chart (LRC), ARCI matrix, or RACI matrix.
Resources
Anything and everything needed to complete a task, including people, tools, money, time, and facilities.
Risk management
The process used to plan for and minimize risks that may derail a project.
Risk register
A document used to analyze the different risks facing a project and plan the appropriate response.

s

Scope
Scope is the information that defines a project’s parameters. How will we fund it? What are our milestones, and how will we define success? Documenting your project scope should be a part of your planning process. Controlling it becomes the challenge once you begin.
Scope creep
A project’s scope can change over time, pushing the boundaries of the original parameters. When scope creep occurs, you risk overspending or missing deadlines. Update your budget, schedule, and resources regularly to eliminate scope creep before it can cause problems.
Scrum
A PM methodology in which a small team is led by a Scrum master, whose main job is to clear away all obstacles to completing work. Work is done in short cycles called sprints, but the team meets daily to discuss current tasks and roadblocks.
Six Sigma
A statistics-based methodology that seeks to improve the quality of a process by getting the number of defects or bugs as close to zero as possible.
Stakeholders
Anyone with an interest in the project’s success, including your boss, customers, team, investors, etc.

t

Task
An individual unit of work.
Timeline
A graphical representation of a sequence of events.

w

Waterfall
Waterfall is possibly the oldest project management methodology. In Waterfall, one task must be completed before the next one begins, in a connected sequence of tasks that produce the final project deliverable.
What-If Scenario Analysis (WISA)
WISA anticipates many different possible project outcomes and creates 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 react quickly.
Work Breakdown Structure (WBS)
A hierarchical tree structure that breaks down a project into smaller deliverables.