This article is aimed at those new to ‘the biz’!  Like any industry or discipline, project management has it’s own set of terminology and jargon that can be confusing to those just grappling with their first project or first few projects.  Many people become ‘accidental’ project managers in their workplace, which can be daunting enough, so we look at some common project management terms used in business and provide a simple definition of these terms.  Remember, these are just some of the project management basics to get you going!

Critical Path – The Critical Path outlines the activities in a project that must be completed in sequence and on schedule for that project to be completed on schedule  When an activity is ‘on the critical path’ – it means that any delay in that activity will impact upon the overall project timeline.  

Deliverable – Simply put a deliverable is the product of a project that can be delivered!  Projects are – or at least should be – all about the deliverables.  Deliverables may be a product – such as a building, a car, software and so forth, or a service – such as training.

Gantt Chart –  A Gantt Chart is type of bar chart that is used to provide a graphical representation of a project schedule.  It shows the tasks to be completed against a timeline and is used to plan and monitor project activities. 

Issue – A project issue is something that has occurred either internal or external to the project that has an impact on the project.  Issues need to be assessed and managed by the project manager.

Milestone – A project milestone is a significant event in the project.  Often a milestone will mark the completion of a project deliverable, however, may also mark other important events such as a decision point.

Plan – The project plan outlines the who, what, when of a project.  The plan is what is executed to ensure the project deliverables are achieved.  The project plan is the chief tool for controlling the project.  A plan usually contains a list of tasks/activities, resource, milestones, timeframes and key deliverable items. 

PMBOK – The Project Management Body of Knowledge is a project management guide. PMBOK identifies project processes that fall into five basic groups in all projects – Initiating, Planning, Executing, Controlling and Monitoring, and Closing.  PMBOK also identifies nine knowledge areas – Project Integration Management, Project Scope Management, Project Time Management, Project Cost Management, Project Quality Management, Project Human Resource Management, Project Communications Management, Project Risk Management, and Project Procurement Management.  PMBOK is the most recognizable project management approach in the world.

Prince2 – Prince2 is a project management methodology, highly recognized and increasingly popular within organizations worldwide.  The Prince2 methodology provides a structured method for effective project management.  Prince2 uses a set of comprehensive concepts and project management processes that tailor to suit the specific project and environment.  The most recent iteration of this methodology, known as PRINCE2:2009 identifies 40 activities, organized into seven processes:  Starting up a Project, Initiating a Project, Directing a Project, Controlling a Stage, Managing Stage Boundaries, Closing a Project.  The processes listed here are supported by strategies and methods for Risk Management, Quality Management, Change Control, Planning, Organisation and Project Controls.

Product – A deliverable item of the project.

Risk – A project risk is something that may happen, either internal or external to the project that will have an impact on the project.  Risks, like issues, need to be assessed and managed by the project manager.

Well, there’s succinct introduction to some of the more common project management terms to help you along.  Of course, we’ve only just danced around the very edge of project management by providing these definitions.  Each of these areas will be further detailed for you as we continue our series of articles on project management success!

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