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 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.


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.


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.


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.


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 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 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.


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.


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 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.


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


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


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.


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


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.


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 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).

Read next: Best Project Management Certifications to Have

Recommended Project Management Software

If you’re interested in learning more about top rated project management software, the editors at actively recommend the following:

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.