Project Management Terms & Concepts to Know

Knowing project management terms and concepts is a necessity for anyone in the field. Learn the top project management terminology and buzzwords in this easy-to-understand guide.

Read more: What Is Project Management?

30 Project Management Terms You Need to Know

Agile

Agile is a project management methodology that takes an iterative approach. Here, the final product may be different than what’s originally planned due to discoveries and feedback that might come up during production. Development is nonlinear to make room for innovation.

Read more about the Agile Manifesto and Agile methodology – project-management.com

Budget

A budget is a financial allocation for a project based on a client’s or company’s capacity and the project team’s work estimates.

Bottleneck

A bottleneck is a point of congestion in a workflow. It can be caused by faulty equipment or tools, lack of expertise, or lack of resources.

Project Closure

Project Closure is the final part of the project lifecycle. It can be caused by the project’s completion, cancellation, termination, or transfer to a new organization. This phase may involve the submission of a final deliverable, fulfilling contractual obligations, terminating relevant agreements, releasing project resources, or turning over project documents.

Contingency Plan

A contingency plan is a set of actions designed to address events that are different from what was planned or ideal.

Project Control & Monitoring Phase

Project Control & Monitoring is the fourth stage of the project management lifecycle. It involves keeping track of your progress, expenses, time consumption, tasks, and other relevant information usually reported to relevant stakeholders.

Critical path

The critical path is the longest string of sequential activities that need to be completed to finish a project. It comprises a list of tasks, their dependencies, and the total duration the team needs to finish them.

Deliverable

Project deliverables are incremental outputs that can help you achieve your project objectives. They can be external or internal, and either a process or product.

Dependency

A dependency exists when a task must be completed before another related task begins. Dependencies can be due to shared resources, prerequisites, or timing.

Project Execution

The project execution stage is the third stage of the project lifecycle. It comes after the planning phase. The execution stage is when plans are followed through. It involves coordinating with people, helping ensure quality work, keeping track of resources, and updating stakeholders.

Gantt Chart

A Gantt chart is a horizontal bar graph representing the tasks needed to complete a project and the schedule of when they’re expected to start and end. It illustrates dependencies, critical paths, and other details, depending on its level of complexity.

Hybrid

Hybrid project management is the practice of combining project management concepts from two different methodologies. A common approach is using Waterfall to plan while using the Agile method and sprints to execute, gather information, and work towards project goals.

Project Initiation

Project initiation is the first stage of the project lifecycle. At this stage, the team needs to help stakeholders understand how the project can help them meet business goals. The team’s performance can result in a new project being authorized, delayed, or discontinued.

Kanban

Kanban is a method of presenting tasks and work items on a Kanban board. A Kanban board can be physical or digital. It’s composed of cards (representing tasks) and columns (representing progress or status).

Kickoff Meeting

The kickoff meeting is the first meeting a team holds to formally start a project. Along with the project team, relevant stakeholders may attend to better align the project’s goals, vision, plan, expectations, and responsibilities with business goals. The meeting may also allow team members to address early issues and anticipate ones that might come up in the future.

KPI

KPIs stands for key performance indicators. They’re quantifiable results that the team strives for. They also help gauge the progress, effectiveness, and overall success of a project.

Milestone

Milestones are checkpoints during the project’s execution that mark significant progress in completing the final deliverable.

Minimum Viable Product (MVP)

A minimum viable product is a deliverable that contains all minimum but necessary features to meet a consumer’s or user’s demands.

Planning Phase

The planning phase is the second phase of the project lifecycle. It comes after a project is successfully initiated. Here, project team members dive into the project requirements, finalize the scope, and layout the resources, approach, deliverables, schedule, and other important details that they’ll need to fulfill the project objectives.

PMBOK

PMBOK stands for Project Management Body of Knowledge, and is published by the Project Management Institute (PMI). It’s a compilation of best practices, terms, and guidelines that are accepted as standards in the project management industry.

Portfolio

A portfolio is a compilation of an organization’s programs and projects. They may or may not be related to each other.

Program

A program is a group of projects within an organization that are related to one another.

Project

Projects are time-bound endeavors that aim to produce value by meeting predefined objectives and success indicators. Project results can be processes, products, or services that contribute to the goals of companies, communities, or individual parties.

Retrospective

A retrospective is an agile scrum ceremony. It’s a short meeting where project teams review finished sprints. The meeting’s objective is to evaluate what was done and identify things done well, things that weren’t done well, and improvements that can be implemented in future projects.

Scope Creep

Scope creep is changing or adding requirements to a project beyond what was originally planned and agreed on.

Scrum

Scrum is an agile project management methodology where a big project is broken down into smaller, but shippable, deliverables. They’re submitted in short time intervals called sprints.

Slack

Slack is the time in a project’s schedule that is kept clear to accommodate unforeseen circumstances, unexpected delays, and sudden issues.

Sprint

Sprints are short intervals of work that usually span two weeks. They’re used in the Scrum project management method, and they typically result in shippable deliverables whose features are enhanced over time.

Stakeholder

Stakeholders are individuals and organizations actively involved in a project or whose interests may be positively or negatively affected due to project execution or project completion.

Waterfall

Waterfall is a project management strategy that’s linear in nature. Each step builds on the next one, and revisiting previous stages to iterate would not be allowed. This is good for small projects with clear goals, or big projects where iterations are costly (e.g. construction).

Scope 

A document that lists the features and functions of a project. Defining scope allows project managers to concretely identify and establish the boundaries of their project plan and identify what the deliverable will look like upon completion. This includes all necessary tasks, budgets, resources, timelines, and deliverables

Task

A task can be thought of as the smallest possible unit of a project. A task is an activity that must be accomplished within a defined period of time or by a particular project-dictated deadline in order to push the project forward toward work-related goals.
Project Manager 

A project manager is the team member responsible for the planning, procurement, and execution responsibilities of a project. A project manager’s primary responsibilities are planning and oversight of the execution of a set of tasks in pursuit of project completion within a set budget and timeframe.

Project Plan 

A project plan is a defined set of tasks, typically in chronological order and aided by a dashboard or other organizational tools, that is established to complete a project within a particular timeframe.

Work Breakdown Structure 

A work breakdown structure is a deliverable-oriented organization of a project into multiple tasks. A work breakdown structure is crucial for organizing a team of colleagues and the multiple component parts required for the completion of a deliverable.

Stakeholder

Stakeholders are those with a critical, usually hands-on, interest in a project’s outcome.

Risk Management

Risk management is the process of keeping a project within its budgetary and temporal bounds by controlling the probability of a negative effect on a project. A project manager will do so by identifying blockages and prioritizing problem-solving methodology in a timely manner.

Product Manager

A product manager is responsible for the development of products for an organization. Product managers own product strategy, specify a product’s functional requirements, and manage feature releases.

Project Charter

A project charter is a simple document that acts as a mission statement and an official authorization of a project or a phase of a project. A project charter typically includes project objectives, scope, and responsibilities. A project charter differentiates itself from a project plan by remaining broad rather than dictating a specific timeline or responsibilities, and its position as an official authorization of a project makes it indispensable for releasing resources and project documentation.

Budgeted Cost

A budgeted cost is a cost that has been forecasted within the project plan. Budgeted costs are expected expenses that have been considered ahead of the time they are incurred.

Critical Path Method 

The critical path method identifies a set of tasks that are absolutely crucial to the completion of a project during the planning phase of development. Project managers use the critical path method to identify a tentative schedule for the completion of these tasks while leaving additional time for possible work slowdowns or derailments.

Project Activity

A project activity is a task or set of tasks that can be broken down into several sub-tasks that must be completed in order to make progress in a particular project. 

Quality Management

Quality management is the process of regular investigation and measurement of the quality of the work done and quality achieved during the process of completing tasks in order to complete a deliverable.

Project Goal

A project goal is a goal set to lay out the intended outcome of a deliverable. Project goals are most useful at the outset of a project. While a project goal implies a singular objective, there are often multiple project goals set at the outset of a project. These goals are high-level goals such as delivering the product within a specific timeframe or executing a task a certain percentage under budget.

Project Planning

Project planning defines the order in which stages of development and tasks may be executed with a pool of resources with the end goal of completing a project or presenting a deliverable within a specified timeframe. Typically project planning is done in tandem with planning tools such as digital dashboards and KPI trackers.

Project Phase

A project phase is a collection of tasks and activities that are taking place within the scope of a project. A project phase is usually defined by a set of tasks that collectively lead to the completion of a particular goal. Project phases are often also referred to as milestones, sprints, chunks, or pillars.

Project Risk

Project risks are uncertainties that pose a threat to the timely delivery of a project. Project risk can be a budgetary, temporal, labor-related, or an act of nature beyond the control of the team. Project managers specialize in risk management solely to mitigate the constant threat of project risk.

Project sponsor

A project sponsor is a person that is responsible for the delivery of a project, without necessarily taking a hands-on approach. Project sponsors handle high-level facilitation of a project such as budget or timeline approval. A project sponsor will usually act as a senior executive of a corporation that has a stake in a project and some degree of responsibility when it comes to the success or failure of said project.

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Hannah Donato

Hannah Donato is a SaaS freelance writer for project management and productivity. Her works help SaaS brands become more relatable with actionable tips and relevant stories. Currently, she’s also an events manager and brand coordinator for a game development company in the Philippines, with four years of experience as a producer for games on multiple platforms.