Essential project management terms and their importance

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 8 July 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Using the correct project management terms enables you to work well with a project team when managing projects. There are specific definitions you ought to know as a project manager. If you're new to project management or are looking for a reminder on these terms, there's a detailed list here that could be of help. In this article, we look at what project management definitions are, why they are essential and provide the meaning of some practical terms.

Related: The 6 agile methodology steps for project management

Importance of project management terms

Learning project management terms is essential and useful to help you showcase the knowledge and expertise you have when working on a project. It likely shows your team members and the project manager that you have previous experience and can be a valuable contribution to the team. Also, it can help you effectively communicate with your teammates. Using a single word or phrase that captures an entire concept allows the project management team to share ideas rapidly, improving the project's speed and workflow.

Related: How does project planning work? (With steps and FAQs)

Terms used in project management

Below is the list of some project management terms that can help you:

  • Agility: Project managers frequently use the word agile. It's a management strategy that describes the capacity to promote a productive working environment by using sprints.

  • Baseline: It's used as a reference during the project to see if the project is in line with the approved parameters or if any adjustments ought to be made. The supervisor usually approves the parameters at the onset of the project, including the budget, scope and timeline.

  • Bottleneck: A bottleneck is a stage during the execution of a project where the level of workload exceeds the system's capacity, hindering the flow of work.

  • Business case: It's a document outlining the advantages your organisation can get from pursuing a project. For instance, you may develop a business case for expanding a particular department in an organisation or for selecting a new work management software.

  • Change management: Change management has to do with an organisation's planned approach to move from one state to another. How a project manager and their team manage change in a project determines its success.

  • Change control: All requests to change a project's approved baseline are recorded, assessed and may be accepted, rejected or delayed through change control.

  • Change control board: The members of a change control board are usually the project's stakeholders. The company entrusts them with accepting or rejecting change requests to the project's baseline.

  • Change freeze: Change freeze is that point in a project where the manager dismisses any change requests that come in onwards.

  • Change log: This is the list of all project changes, including proposed, approved, rejected or delayed.

  • Change request: This is a formal request to obtain approval for the already approved baseline changes.

  • Collaboration: Collaboration involves actively incorporating the team members into project activities. Team members also use an interconnected network that serves as a platform to share information and track project progress.

  • Conflict resolution: This is the process of recognising and resolving conflicts that may affect the achievement of project goals if left unaddressed.

  • Conformance audit: The exercise examines the project's operation and other practices to see if the team members are following the stated processes judiciously.

  • Contingency: This is the provision of extra resources to manage risks if they occur.

  • Contingency budget: This is the amount of money reserved for executing a contingency plan.

  • Contingency plan resource: This is the money reserved to manage a risk that the group has identified.

  • Contract: This is an agreement between people that imposes legally binding obligations. The contract outlines the responsibilities and the consequences if one fails to do them.

  • Critical path method: This strategy can assist project managers in determining the schedule's flexibility and identifying compulsory tasks for project completion. A critical path method usually has a long series of duties that the project management team may complete on time for the project to be completed.

  • Deliverable: A deliverable, which is tangible, or a service a project team can use to show the progress of a project. For example, a project team may purchase new computer systems as a deliverable for a project to improve a company's technology.

  • Fast-tracking: This is the process of making changes to task prioritisation. Fast-tracking enables a project manager to prioritise critical tasks to increase project efficiency and quality.

  • Gantt charts: Gantts charts are a type of graph that shows a project timeline. The diagram depicts what the team may do at specific points in the project lifecycle.

  • Key performance indicators: These are pointers that assess the success of a project. During the initiation and planning phase of a project lifecycle, the project management group clearly states key performance indicators.

  • Meeting agenda: This is the outline of the things to be discussed during a meeting. A meeting agenda may include a thorough description of the listed items, discussion order and the projected outcome.

  • Meeting minutes: These are records of what happens during a meeting. After the meeting, project managers may distribute minutes among attendees to acquire valuable insights and execute necessary follow-up activities.

  • Milestones: A milestone serves as a standard against which the team may measure a project's progress. In project management, they usually depict milestones as diamonds, useful for project planning and monitoring.

  • Network diagram: A network diagram is a graphical representation of a project's tasks and the order in which employees could execute them to achieve the project's goals.

  • Resource allocation: Resource allocation is assigning time, budget, team members, finances, vendors, supplies and services to project tasks.

  • Product breakdown structure: This is a complete list of the factors that contribute to the creation and development of products.

  • Project budget: This is the money you plan to spend on a particular project. Project supervisors can specify a project budgeted in hours or dollars.

  • Project charter: This important document outlines the scope, benefits and what the project intends to achieve. Stakeholders review and approve this document before initiating the project.

  • Project deliverables: A work breakdown structure divided into manageable chunks. This hierarchical organisation of the team's work aids everyone in better understanding the nature of the project and achieving project goals.

  • Project plan: A project plan is a crucial document the project manager may complete before beginning any project. The document contains the approved budget, project timeline and scope. A project plan serves as a guide from the start to the end of the project.

  • Project management software: These are the software project managers use to manage projects. Some standard project management software used to organise projects includes Trello and Asana.

  • Project stakeholder: A project stakeholder is someone that has any involvement in the project. They usually influence or are affected by project decisions made throughout the project.

  • Resource management: This is the process of planning and allotting resources you may require for a project. Resource management involves deliberating on deciding where and when to use the allotted resources, which is different from project allocation.

  • Scope creep: Scope creep is when a project's tasks and scope widen and go beyond the initially approved scope. If scope creep is poorly monitored and managed, it can significantly increase the project's time.

  • Scrum: Project managers use scrum as a method for successfully adopting agile. Scrum refers to small work sprints that contribute to achieving a larger goal.

  • Statement of work: This document highlights the details of a project. It contains a detailed explanation of the project deliverables and timeline. Before a vendor provides their services to a client, the project team may provide a statement of work to ensure that everyone understands the required work.

  • Stand-up meeting: This is a short meeting that holds daily and a project team conducts this meeting to know the progress of each team member's work. They often have a stand up meeting at the same time and venue every day.

  • Waterfall model: This is a linear approach in project management, where each stage depends on the one before it. The waterfall model often requires extensive planning before execution begins to confirm that the team considered all dependencies.

  • Work in progress: It refers to the number of tasks a team member is working on at a particular time. Work in progress also shows the capacity of the team's workflow.

    Please note that none of the companies mentioned in this article are affiliated with Indeed.


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