Glossaries exist because industry jargon is real, and because people should be able to relate to a term without having to break their brains in the process.

With the help of simple, project management glossary summaries like these, you should be better off; we hope!

Acceptance Criteria

Acceptance criteria looks at the conditions of a project or product, or certain aspects of them such as sprint user stories or test cases, that must be met before a deliverable is accepted. Agreeing on the right acceptance criteria upfront with a user reduces the risk of development not meeting expectations.

Change Management

The term Change Management is most often used to describe the approach taken to prepare teams or organizations for change.

Change Management can also be used to describe the control processes within a project, but that’s more often defined as Change Control. The latter differs from Change Management in that it’s a set of processes (and controls of course) that mitigate the risk of impact to a project due to change.

Contingency Plan

Contingency plans are ‘what if’ scenarios based on specific events, that establish the ‘play book’ to follow should that event (and assumed impacts) occur.

Cost Benefit Analysis

Cost Benefit Analysis or CBA is a process or tool used to support decision making in projects. CBA evaluates the cost versus the benefit of a project, in order to determine project feasibility (in terms of how much the benefit outweighs the cost) and provide a decision-making metric when weighing multiple options.

Critical Path Method

A project’s critical path showcases the longest series of tasks (with their dependencies) that must be completed for a project to finish.

Definition of Done

The Definition of Done (DoD) is based on the agreed criteria that must be met for a project team to consider an aspect of a project shippable or complete. The DoD establishes a shared understanding across the team of what needs to be done for a user story, feature or product to be considered finished.

Earned Value

Earned Value or Budgeted Cost of Work Performed (BCWP) is used to calculate project status.

The EV method uses time and cost to determine whether a project is on schedule, or within budget.

Eisenhower Matrix

The Eisenhower Matrix is a productivity tool and framework that helps prioritize tasks based on urgency or importance. It’s a useful framework that helps project managers determine which tasks to prioritize and which to defer or delegate.

KPI

KPI stands for Key Performance Indicator - a measurable value that indicates progress towards a project outcome or result.

Gantt Chart

The Gantt chart is a visualization of work data over time; the units of work being tasks, or phases and program increments at a higher level.

It is used to support the processes of schedule and dependency management.

MVP

MVP is an acronym for Minimum Viable Product which is a concept from Lean Startup which focuses on validating a product idea with customers early in the development lifecycle. An MVP has just enough features to be usable and relies on early adopter feedback to inform ongoing improvements.

Net Present Value

Net Present Value (NPV) or Net Present Worth (NPW) is a capital budgeting method that is used as part of a Cost-Benefit Analysis (CBA) to determine the profitability of an investment. Net Present Value allows project stakeholders to determine if future benefits are more or less than the initial investment.

Objectives and Key Results

OKRs stands for Objectives and Key Results.

An OKR framework is a structured way to measure progress towards an objective while establishing continuous processes to set higher performance benchmarks for results and motivate the team to achieve them.

Opportunity Cost

Opportunity Cost is a concept in economics which quantifies the impact of selecting one option instead of another ‘next best’ alternative. In Project Management, it is applied to quantify the missed opportunity when deciding to use a resource (e.g. investment dollars) for one purpose versus another.

Planned Value

Planned value is an approved value of the work, setting up a baseline that lets stakeholders know what the value is, at any point in time, if the project runs on time.

Program Manager

A program manager is the one responsible for leading a number of interdependent projects in order to achieve strategic objectives. The Program Manager focuses on realizing overall benefits and achieving organizational goals, as opposed to managing short deadlines and individual deliverables.

Project Life Cycle

In order to simplify the management of activities and processes within a project, the latter is broken down into a series of stages or phases, which together form a lifecycle.

Initiation, planning, execution and closure are examples of project phases.

Project Governance

Project governance is a function aligned to an organization’s corporate governance framework that oversees critical project management processes across the end lifecycle.

Project Management

Project Management can be described as the application of knowledge while using specific processes and tools to manage resources in order to achieve an outcome.

Project Portfolio Management

Project Portfolio Management is the organization of multiple projects based on a hierarchical set made of common data attributes.

PPM describes the processes that are managed at every level of the hierarchy.

Project Scope

Traditionally, Project Scope can be broadly described as the work, deliverables or the required (working) product features that need to be done in order to complete a project.

Scope Management on the other hand, ensures that only the agreed scope is delivered and controls the addition of new scope.

RACI Chart

RACI stands for Responsible, Accountable, Consulted and Informed, each letter representing a level of task responsibility. The Raci chart or responsibility assignment matrix describes the various roles (stakeholders) involved in completing tasks or deliverables for a project.

Risk Management

Risk Management in projects is the identification, analysis and treatment of potential impacts to the project based on an assessment of likelihood and consequence.

Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe)

The Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe) is a set of integrated principles, workflows, knowledge (or competency areas) and practices that enable organizations to adopt Agile at scale.

Scope Creep

Scope Creep is the rather insidious introduction of new requirements or work, incrementally, without governance or risk management.

Scrum

Scrum is an agile methodology originally designed as a framework to achieve faster and more efficient product development. The term Scrum was borrowed from Rugby and was specifically used to highlight the emphasis on teamwork in achieving common goals.

Statement of Work

A Statement of Work (SoW) is a formal document detailing the agreement between a supplier, or vendor, and the customer.

It includes details about the deliverable, its cost, and the delivery timeline.

Sunk Costs

Sunk costs are the expenses incurred to date in a project, which means they’re already spent and cannot be recovered. Sunk costs - such as rent, subscription fees or hardware - are fixed and do not change, irrespective of the levels of productivity of a project or operation.

SWOT Analysis

SWOT is an acronym for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats.

SWOT analysis on the other hand, is a way to evaluate a company or project by assessing these four factors and developing strategies to manage them.

Work Breakdown Structure

WBS is a hierarchy comprising four levels; it starts with a project goal that is broken down into objectives, then outputs, and finally, project activities and deliverables.

Accuracy, consistency and understanding is what we wish to bring with this project management glossary page. If you feel we’re missing a PPM glossary definition, please let us know and we’ll add it!