The understanding of project management terms is important to manage the project. The project ranges from small and simple to big and complex. As the scope and complexity of the project increases, the need to manage the project also increases. The project management is done through the framework as defined in the selected project management methodology.
To effectively manage the project, the project manager needs to be well versed with the terms used in the domain.
The top twenty project management terms in alphabetical order are as listed below-
1. Activity and Activity Network
An activity is the smallest unit of project work. A project is broken down into work packages. The work packages are further divided into smaller activities. The main characteristics of activity are that it is easily measurable and deliverable. The activity is such decided that the duration and resource can be easily assigned.
The activities arranged in a logical sequence create an activity network. It is helpful in visualising the workflow and developing the project schedule.
2. Agile Project Management
Agile project management is an iterative approach to project management. The methodology consists of incremental and iterative phases. These phases are called sprints having a duration of up to two weeks.
This methodology is very useful in projects where execution and testing are done simultaneously. The shortfalls identified in the subsequent testings are corrected. The process is repeated until the desired results are achieved. This approach is very flexible as rework is permitted.
3. Baseline Project Schedule
The project schedule agreed and signed off between the employer and the contractor is called the baseline schedule. A project baseline schedule is an important tool of project management.
The baseline schedule serves as the benchmark for measuring the time, resource, and cost. The variances are calculated against the baseline schedule. The cost associated with the baseline schedule is called the baseline cost of the project or the budgeted cost of the project. The project schedule should be deeply checked by qualitative and quantitative methods before setting the baseline.
A project should have at least one baseline. The upper limit for baselines is not defined. However, too many baselines signify inefficient planning and poor execution.
4. Critical Path Method
The Critical Path Method is the process of finding the longest path in the activity network. The longest path has the least amount of time required to complete the project. The longest path is called the critical path. The activities lying on the critical path are called critical activities and have zero floats (slack).
The main advantage of the Critical Path Method is that it helps in prioritising the activities. Thus, the resources for the critical activities are made available first. Any delay in the critical activity leads to the project delay.
The Critical Path Test as defined by DCMA in 14-point assessment is the method to determine the correctness of the critical path. It is conducted by increasing the duration of any critical activity, if the project duration increases by the same amount, the test is said to be passed. If the schedule fails, the fault needs to be detected and rectified.
5. Earned Value Management
The EVM is a technique to assess the schedule effectiveness and the project status. The Earned Value Management uses the following terms very commonly-
- Earned Value- The cost of work performed.
- Planned Value- The planned value of the work performed.
- Budget at Completion- The planned cost to complete the project.
- Actual Cost- The cost incurred till the point of consideration.
- Estimate at Completion- The estimated cost to be incurred at the project completion.
6. Gantt Chart
The Gantt Chart is a popular tool for creating the project schedule. The baseline schedules are generally set on Gantt Chart. The popularity is due to its’ simplicity. In addition, it is easier to create and understand.
The Gantt Chart shows the horizontal bar of each activity spread over the timeline. Also, the dependency of each activity can be shown by arrows.
The project management software like Microsoft Project and Primavera P6 uses Gantt Chart for the project schedule.
Kanban is a visual project management technique. It is a relatively simpler and lean technique. The Kanban board is used for managing it. It manages the process flow and the actual workflow.
A milestone in project management is a deliverable of significant value. Every project should have at least two milestones- start and end. However, the project may have as many milestones as per the scope and complexity of the project.
The milestones are such decided that they can summarise the entire project deliverables. Expert judgement should be used to set the milestones.
The milestones have zero duration in project schedule.
9. Project Budget
The allotted cost to the project is called the project budget. It covers all the material cost, capital expenditure to purchase/acquire/hire/lease equipment, salaries & wages, office establishment, transportation of material, power & water charges. In addition, the taxes, customs, statutory clearance fees, CSR, environmental preservation cost, contingency etc. are also included in the project.
The project budget estimates are made tentatively at the initiation stage for business case development. Generally, the details of the budget are added at a later stage when the scope is made clearer. The budgeting should be done after thorough market research and the market price forecast for the project execution stage.
10. Project Charter
The project charter is a document prepared at the initiation stage of the project. It presents a brief introduction to the project, project objectives, scope, cost, business case, risks and timeline etc.
The project charter formalises the transition from the project conceptualisation to the project execution. It sets the outline for developing a project management plan.
11. Project Management Lifecycle
Every project passes through various phases during its’ lifetime. The project lifecycle is defined through the following five steps or process groups-
- Initiation- The initial phase of a project sets the outline for the project objectives. The approvals are obtained and the financial system is set up.
- Planning- The outlines set in the initiation phase are put in details. The project plan is set up with the schedule, quality plan, risk plan, resource plan, communication plan, procurement plan etc.
- Execution- The project is put into action mode. The planning done earlier is implemented.
- Monitoring & Controlling- The project monitoring mechanism is used to monitor the progress and evaluated against the planned progress. The control methods are used to control the deviation from planned progress.
- Closing- The project is completed and closed formally. The documentation is completed and a certificate of completion is handed over.
12. Project Plan-
The project plan is a document consisting of all the requirement of the project and actions required to complete the project. It is the outcome of the planning phase of the project management lifecycle. A project plan consists of various sub-plans for schedule, resource, cost, quality, risk, communication, and procurement etc.
13. Project Schedule
A project schedule is the project activities arranged over a timeline in the order of their sequence. The project schedule covers the entire scope of the project. In other words, it is a document containing the answer to ‘when’ for the project activities.
A project schedule is prepared by following three simple steps-
- Activity Breakdown from WBS.
- Sequencing of Activities with suitable lead and lag.
- Duration Estimation of each activity.
The schedule can be loaded with the resource and cost. Such schedules help in planning for the resource, resource levelling, cashflow projections, cost control.
14. Quality Management
Quality is the level of excellence. Similarly, the higher the quality, the higher is the level of satisfaction. However, the quality comes with a cost. The cost increases with the increase in quality. So, it becomes important to set the quality standards for the project that enable the project manager to control the quality within the budget.
Ensuring the quality of the delivered project is an important objective of project management. The quality management plan consists of evaluation methods, implementation of quality planning and assurance of completed and in-progress activities.
15. Resource Management
An activity requires resources to be completed. The resource may be material, machinery or men. The scope of the project sets the outlines for the resource identification for the project. Every resource has a cost associated with it. Thus, the usage of resource incurs the cost. The productivity of resource also defines the time taken by the project.
As the resources are closely linked with the scope, cost and time of the project, a resource management plan needs to be devised. The resource management plan helps in the proper planning of resource and ensures maximum productivity. It also helps in scheduling the resource mobilisation that further helps in saving the cost.
16. Risk Management
The uncertainties in any project are called risks. The correct identification of risks helps in their analysis, evaluation, ranking and treatment. The risks can either be positive or negative. Improper risk management may lead to the missed opportunities or detrimental effects on the project or both.
The risks are of two types- individual risk and overall risk. The individual risk affects one or more than project objectives. The overall risk affects the whole project and may even close the project.
The project risks can be broadly classified into financial risks, legal risks, laws & clearances related risks, project risks, and safety risks.
The steps of preparing an efficient risk management plan are listed below.
- Setting the objectives of the Risk Management Plan (RMP)
- Identification of Risk
- Analysis of Risk
- Evaluation of Risk
- Treatment of Risk
The stakeholders are people who get affected by the project outcome. The project manager, team members, promoters, users, government authorities, communities, etc. are stakeholders. Every project is designed to cater to a specific need; thus, every project has a different set of stakeholders.
Stakeholder identification and management are important in project management. The stakeholders directly or indirectly influence the project objectives and decisions. Hence, the proper stakeholder management plan helps in the smooth running of the project.
18. Triple Constraint
The cost, time and scope of the project are called a triple constraint. These three metrics set the constraint for the project manager to manage the project. Every project operates within these three boundaries. Also, the uniqueness of every project is due to the change in at least any one of these metrics.
The variation in either cost, time and scope lead to the change in another metric. The project success is also measured in the cost, time and scope management terms. These metrics are often represented as the vertices of an equilateral triangle with quality at the centre. Thus, called the project management triangle.
19. Waterfall Project Management
Waterfall project management is the non-iterative approach to project management. As the name suggests, the workflow is like a waterfall i.e., if the process completes it can’t be attended again for rework. Waterfall project management is seen as the opposite of Agile Project Management.
Each work activity has at least one successor and one predecessor. The workflow is unidirectional. The progress measurement and control are easier but the whole process is heavily documented. But, the documentation also helps in ensuring the smooth onboarding of the new team member, recalling assumptions and setting the new guidelines for the project.
20. Work Breakdown Structure
The work breakdown structure is the hierarchical decomposition of the project scope. The WBS breaks the project into small deliverables that are managed easily. The planned work is contained within the lowest level of WBS components, which are called work packages. A work package can be used to group the activities where work is scheduled and estimated, monitored, and controlled. In the context of the WBS, work refers to work products or deliverables that are the result of the activity and not to the activity itself.
The activities of WBS are defined strictly within the scope of the project. The scope of the project is defined in the contract agreement signed between the parties. The activities are such defined that their duration and cost can be estimated easily.
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