Project management

Eleven project management terms everyone should know

Psoda blog author avatar
9 May 2017

Being involved in projects, even if you’re on the periphery, can expose you to a whole new language – like someone talking Klingon. To help you fake it till you make it, here are 11 project management terms everyone should know:

1. Project manager

The head honcho, conductor of the orchestra, or other management clichés. She or he is responsible for making sure everything that is supposed to happen does happen – on time and within budget. They often look like a swan – calm on the outside, but paddling frantically below the surface. Will normally be nice for coffee.

2. Project

The piece of work everyone is frantically working to finish. It’s got a distinct start and end date and is going to deliver something useful. Kind of like baking a cake.

3. Programme

A group of projects that have an overarching theme. To continue with the cake analogy, a programme is like a baker’s shop, and each cake a project.

4. Portfolio

This is a bit more complicated to define, as it can be made up of programmes, projects or a combination of the two. Following on with the cake theme, a portfolio is like a recipe book.

5. Triple constraint

The bane of a project manager’s life. It is represented in a number of ways, but usually as a triangle with cost, time and scope on the vertices and quality in the middle. Basically, you can’t change one of the vertices without affecting the other two. You’ll very often hear “pick two out of the three, as you can’t have them all”.

6. Methodology

The framework you use to manage the project. This could be PRINCE2 (Projects In Controlled Environments), PMBoK (Project Management Body of Knowledge), Agile or a combination of them all.

7. Risk

Something that might, or might not happen, but if it does happen, will have a good or bad effect on the project. The risks may or may not be within your control.

8. Issue

Something that is happening right now that is impacting on the project. It may or may not have been identified as a risk.

9. Gantt chart/schedule

A specific way to visualise the work needed to do deliver the project.

10. Milestone

An anchor point on the project management timeline. It’s usually found on the Gantt chart and it has no impact on the project schedule.

11. Stakeholder

Someone, or a group of someones, who will be, or who think they will be, directly or indirectly affected by what the project is supposed to be delivering.
Hopefully this list proves useful. What project management terms do you think everyone should know?

Rhona Aylward avatar
Written by Rhona Aylward
Rhona is Deputy Everything Officer at Psoda, where she does everything except code. After starting life as a microbiologist she moved into PMO leadership roles around the world before settling in New Zealand with her family.

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