Project Management Glossary

Agile

Agile Project Management is an iterative and incremental method of managing the design and build activities for engineering, information technology, and new product or service development projects in a highly flexible and interactive manner

Business Case

A Business Case documents the justification for the undertaking of a project based on the estimated cost of development and the anticipated benefits to be gained. It secures senior management and stakeholder commitment from the outset.

Constraint

Something which is mandated, unavoidable, or which may prevent / restrict the project Manager from delivering the project in the most appropriate or effective way.

Change Request

A request needed to obtain formal approval for changes to the scope, design, methods, costs or planned aspects of a project. Change requests may arise through changes in the business or Issues in the project. Change requests should be logged, assessed, and agreed on before a change to the project can be made

Critical path

The set of products (also known as Deliverables) which, when carried out sequentially, together determine the overall timescale of a project (that is – if any one of them takes longer than planned then the whole project will take that much longer). To determine the critical path requires full knowledge of task durations, dependencies, and resources.

Critical Success Factor

Something that must be in place for a project to deliver its benefits or outcomes. A Critical Success Factor (CSF) is often what makes the difference between just delivering something and really making a difference. In a project context they are generally more about culture than about what must be done or delivered.

Deliverable (s)

Another term for product. Something you produce or deliver during a project in order to achieve one or more objectives. Deliverables do NOT necessarily have to be physical things like documents. Some examples could be: an IT system, a set of guidance notes. Deliverables are often confused with objectives – essentially, a deliverable, or set of deliverables, is what you produce to achieve the objective.

Dependency

Within a project, a relationship which indicates that the starts or ends of two separate tasks on a Project Plan are linked together by:

  • Finish-Start. This is the most common form (for example you cannot start to agree contract terms until you have finished selecting your supplier).
  • Finish-Finish. (You cannot finish reviewing a document until you have finished drafting it, but you can start reviewing before it is finished).
  • Start-Start (You cannot start training until you have started recruitment, but you do not need to wait until everyone has been recruited before you start training).

Escalation

The process of raising the profile of a risk or issue to a higher level in a project or programme hierarchy, usually because it is not possible to deal with it at the level at which it was originally recorded. Some examples of this include:

  • Where it is discovered that a risk or issue affects more than one project in a programme (or sub-programme)
  • The resources required to carry out the management actions to deal with the risk or issue cannot be found within the Project Team
  • A project Issue has remained unresolved to the point where its impact becomes so severe that it could affect the delivery of a programme goal or objective

Gantt chart

A pictorial representation of a Project Plan, showing Deliverables, Milestones; and Dependencies.

Impact

Within Risk and Issue Management. The degree to which a risk or issue will affect a project’s ability to deliver its objectives.

Impact is usually rated subjectively on a scale of High-Medium-Low. Organisations often have their own method for rating risks. It is important to realise that the impact may need to be reassessed if the risk or issue is escalated to a higher level.

Issue

A generic term for a matter that has been brought to the attention of the project team and requires an answer. Anyone may submit an issue; typical sources are team members, users or specialists.

Issues and risks can often be confused. The simplest way of distinguishing Issues from risks is to ask whether the probability of the situation occurring is 100% (i.e. certain): if so (or if it has already happened!), then it is an Issue; if not, it is a risk. A risk may therefore later become an Issue once the uncertainty over whether or not it will happen has been removed. The issues facing a project are recorded on the Issue Log.

Issue Log

A document used to record the issues facing a project or programme, usually set out as a table in either MS Word or MS Excel. It should, as a minimum, record a description of each Issue, an assessment of the impact, the action to be taken to address it, and by whom

Microsoft Project

A software tool that can be used to support the production and maintenance of Project Plans.

Milestone

A point at which you can measure progress on the way to achieving an objective. Sometimes used interchangeably to show on a plan the production or completion of a product, or the meeting of an objective.

Mitigation

A planned action put in place to avoid a risk happening.

MSP

The Government methodology developed by the Office of Government Commerce (OGC) to manage programmes.

Objective

Something you need to achieve in order to meet your aim. To be effective, objectives should always be written so that they are SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Time-bound).

Outcome

A resulting effect (whether positive or negative) of carrying out a Project. A positive outcome is usually referred to as a Benefit.

PMBOK

Now in its fifth edition, the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK) is a collection of processes and knowledge areas accepted as best practice for the project management profession. 

Portfolio

A group of projects managed together, they are often interlinked, and would not normally be considered a change programme – refer programme

PRINCE2

The Government methodology developed the Office of Government Commerce (OGC), originally for managing large-scale IT Projects. It contains the essential tools and techniques required for Project Management.

Probability

Within risk management, how likely it is that a risk will actually happen. This can be rated on a High (very probable) – Medium (likely) – Low (unlikely but possible) scale, but can be much more sophisticated. Probability does not change when risks are escalated.

Product(s)

See Deliverable(s)

Programme

A collection of projects which are managed together coherently (often as a major undertaking) and which all contribute to a common outcome (or set of outcomes), which is almost always concerned with effecting change of some description.

Project Board

The set of individuals who collectively monitor and control a project’s overall progress, acting as a quality assurance mechanism for its deliverables and an escalation (and resolution) route for risks and Issues.

Project Initiation Document (PID)

A PRINCE2 term to describe a specific document, produced to enable a project board to decide whether or not to start a project.

Project Manager

The person who has overall day-to-day control of a project and is responsible for ensuring it is delivered.

Project Plan

The ‘route map’ showing how a project will achieve its objectives by producing its products, and meeting its milestones. Often the terms Project Plan and Gantt Chart are used interchangeably but a true Project Plan is more than just a Gantt chart. It should also encompass information about the resources allocated to specific tasks, the links between activities and the objectives, the dependencies between the tasks and the deliverables

Project Sponsor

A person in a senior position within the organisation who supports (and is seen to support) the aim of a project or the outcome of a programme.

Quality

The collection of features and characteristics of a product or service that define its ability to satisfy the stated or implied needs of the customer who commissioned it.

Quality Assurance

The processes that are put in place to demonstrate that products are of sufficient quality.

Quality Control (QC)

The processes put in place to ensure that products are of sufficient quality.

Quality Plan

Part of a Project Initiation Document that describes how quality will be achieved. It can describe both Quality Control and Quality Assurance processes.

Resource

Something that enables a task on a Project Plan to be carried out. Usually this refers to people, but could also be money or materials.

Risk

A situation which may occur in the future and which, if it were to occur, could impact on the ability of a project or programme to deliver one or more of its goals or objectives. There is commonly a great deal of confusion between risks and issues.

Risk Log

A document used to record the risks facing a project usually produced as a table in either MS Word or MS Excel. It should, as a minimum, record a description of each risk, an assessment of its severity and the action to be taken to minimise the risk.

Scope

The ‘boundary’ within which a project is planned and managed.

Scope Creep

The process by which the set of deliverables which a project is producing changes over time, usually in an uncontrolled fashion and almost always increasing rather than decreasing, without a consequent change in resources or review of the deliverability of the project. Uncontrolled scope creep is one of the most common causes of project failure.

Scrum

Is an iterative and incremental agile software development framework for managing product development.

Severity

In Risk Management - an overall indicator of the significance of a risk (where one is required), usually calculated on the basis of a combination of the impact and probability of the risk. Severity is usually rated on a scale of High-Medium-Low for simplicity, but can also be ascribed an actual numeric value to enable risks to be ranked in priority order.

Sign-off

The formal agreement that confirms a product is fit for purpose. Sign-off can be achieved either by correspondence (or email) or at designated sign-off meetings (which may form part of a Project Board meeting). It is important for sign-off to be formally recorded in some way.

Stakeholder

Any person or organisation having an interest in the progress or outcomes of a project or programme – usually because they are either part of it or affected by what it delivers.

Stakeholder Group

A group comprising selected stakeholders and project (or programme) staff, and which is constituted to advise a Project or Programme Board from a stakeholder perspective.

Steering Group

A group normally comprised of the organisation’s senior managers, whose remit is to set the strategic direction of a project or programme. A steering group does not usually involve itself in monitoring progress, except where required to fulfil its function.

 

The quality of the team at Infinite You was exemplary and they dealt with the varying personalities in a highly professional manner. The content of the programme was comprehensive and reflected the objectives we defined and was augmented by excellent analysis, subsequent feedback and support.
Kevin Griffiths ACEO Age Concern Slough and Berkshire East