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Project management glossary

Moira Alexander | March 16, 2016
As in many specialized fields, there is a host of terms that hold a specific meaning, and the world of project management (PM) is no exception.

As in many specialized fields, there is a host of terms that hold a specific meaning, and the world of project management (PM) is no exception.  Although project management professionals have an understanding of these specific complex PM terms, the vernacular may not be as intuitive for professionals in other fields. 

These PM terms define not only what is being done, but also provide some very specific guidelines for how, where and/or when these terms are applicable. The field of PM is highly complex with skillsets that are employed widely within almost all industries; exposing the field to a global audience.

The project management field spans 10 interconnected knowledge areas and incorporates the use of 47 processes organized into five process groups (initiating, planning, executing, monitoring and controlling and close-out) -- making it a complex field to understand and navigate. As project management is applied within small businesses to large multi-national organizations and to virtually any industry in some form, anyone from the CEO of a large international organization to employees within a small business can benefit from understanding these PM terms.

Since project management involves careful planning, execution and management of people, processes, timelines, deliverables, technologies and other resources in a way that aligns with overall strategic objectives, successfully executing a project, can be almost impossible absent the understanding of these PM terms.

The terms outlined in this glossary hold a specific meaning, but may be applied somewhat differently and at different times depending on the industry and project nature.  This glossary serves to provide professionals at all levels with a foundational knowledge of the project management terms and how they are generally applied within the field.

5 project phases

The five project management phases are: initiating, planning, executing, monitoring/controlling and close-out. The term “phase” and “process group” are used interchangeably and cover all processes and activities within a project from start to finish.

10 project management knowledge areas

In project management, knowledge areas illustrate a set of concepts, terms and actions that encompass professional and project management field specializations. In total there are 10 knowledge areas that overlay within the five project management phases. The 10 knowledge areas are: 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, project procurement management and project stakeholder management.

Accepted deliverables

These could be finished products, documents, services, or any results that are approved by the project initiator/owner, or authorized individual. This could also refer to partial products, documents or services within a phase or project that has been canceled. The key here is that it has been approved.


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