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Glossary of terms used in Project Management

Are you baffled by some of the terminology that you hear used by Project Managers? Let our glossary of terms offer a simple explanation.

A

Agile

A highly flexible method of managing the design and build of IT projects in incremental steps that involves the customer at every step.

B

Benefit

A measure of the improvements that are going to take place as a result of doing the project. A benefit may occur during the project or at some point afterwards. The Senior User owns the benefits for the project.

Benefits Realisation

Ensuring that the benefits from the project happen either during the project or at some point after the project completes.

Business Analysis

The process of researching and identifying business needs through understanding how people work now and how they are likely to work in the future once the project is complete. This is undertaken by a Business Analyst and the results feed into the project start up documentation.

C

Change control

Any requested changes to the project documentation require proposing, evaluating, approving or rejecting, scheduling and then tracking.

Change request

The details of the project documentation don't always remain as agreed. There can be a "change request" to expand or reduce the project scope, modify the costs or revise schedules.

Critical path

This is the sequence of tasks that determine the minimum timescale for a project to be completed. If one of the tasks is delayed, the timescale of the whole project will increase.

D

Deliverable

A tangible product from the project. This could be a piece of software, training documentation or a new process.

E

Exception Report

A report on why the project development has fallen outside of its agreed thresholds. This could be because it has cost significantly more or less than was originally forecast, for example.

G

Gantt Chart

A graphic display demonstrating how the timescales of tasks relate to one another. It shows whether timescales for different tasks run concurrently or if one task needs to be completed before another one can start.

H

Highlight Report

A monthly report which provides the project board with information about the status of the project.

K

Key dependencies

Some tasks rely on other tasks to be performed before they can be implemented and this relationship is termed a key dependency.

M

Milestone

A significant event in the project – usually the completion of a major deliverable.

P

PID

Project Initiation Document(ation) – a document or documentation drawn up during the initiation of the project that defines all major aspects of a project and forms the basis for its management and assessment of overall success.

PRINCE 2

An acronym for Projects in Controlled Environments – a process based method of managing projects that is widely used in the public and private sector.

Pathways

A set of sequentially connected activities.

Plan

A proposal for doing or acheiving something that specifies the what, when, how and by whom. Some Projects are run entirely from the Project Plan and do not have a PID.

Programme

A group of related projects managed in a co-ordinated way. Programmes usually have a life span of several years and deliver outcomes of strategic relevance.

Project Assurance

An activity that is carried out for the project board to verify that the project is being run in the best possible way and is adhering to project management standards agreed at the start of the project.

Project Board

The group that provide direction for the Project and supports the Project Manager. The Project Board consists of one Executive and one or more Senior Users and Senior Suppliers.

Project Executive

The Executive is the key decision maker on the Project Board and owns the business case. They have ultimate responsiblity for the project success.

Project Manager

The person appointed by the Executive to manage the project day to day. The Project Manager reports to the Project Board.

Project Requestor

The person who requests the project – this could be the same person as the sponsor or the executive.

Project Sponsor

An optional role on the project. The Project Sponsor can be the link from the Project Executive to the funding source for the project in the University and is responsible for securing project funding.

Q

Quality Assurance

The process of regularly evaluating the overall project performance to ensure that the project will satisfy quality standards.

R

RAG Status

A “health check” of a project – Red, Amber or Green. Red is where the Project is under threat without high level intervention and Green is where the project is proceeding within tolerance.

S

Schedule

A list of tasks and dates in the project. Note that a Schedule is often confused with a Plan.

Scope

The total sum of all the products and services to be provided in a project - ie, those that are "in scope".

Scope Creep

Sometimes new products or services are added to the original scope, and this is known as scope creep.

Scrum

A framework for managing the introduction of new software in an agile manner.

Senior Supplier

The person who represents those groups who will design, develop, facilitate, procure and implement the project.

Senior User

The person who represents the team who will use or gain benefit from the end result of the project.

Snagging List

A list of faults that have been discovered post Go-Live and need to be addressed.

Sprint

A time period or timebox to produce a certain amount of functionality in an Agile Project. A sprint is usually 2-4 weeks.

Stage Gate

A review point for the project where the Project Board can assess whether to continue or not.

Stakeholders

Key individuals and organisations who are involved in or affected by project activities and can have a significant effect on the success of the project.

Statement of Work

A description of products or services required to be supplied under contract.

T

Traceability Matrix

A document that tracks the features of a solution back to the requirements document, to show that the requirements have been met.

Transition Document

A document that outlines how whatever is produced by the Project will move into business as usual. This document helps ensure there is as little disruption as possible and all relevant teams are involved.

W

Waterfall

An approach to developing a technology solution that goes through a series of steps to get to the end product. Once a step is completed, the team move onto the next step. Typical steps are design, build and test. Waterfall works for well-defined requirements that are unlikely to change.

Work Package

A unit of work assigned to one Team Manager to complete. Work Packages are a useful way of delegating work from the Project Manager to the Project Team.

Workstream

A logical grouping of tasks within a project that is often completed by one team. A workstream could focus on a particular functional area of a solution.