Project Management Glossary
Agenda is the Latin term for "what must be done" or "the work to be done". "Agenda" can be used synonymously for daily schedule, meeting, assembly, scheduler, calendar or structuring a meeting.
Agile Project Management
Agile project management is a collective term for different project management methods mainly originating from software development. Mostly they follow an iterative process, which means that the project is not planned and executed completely, but tasks and requirements are continuously rewritten allowing a more dynamic and flexible project management. Well-known agile project management methods include Kanban and Scrum.
An activity is determined by a certain duration and a certain start and end time. The term activity is mainly used in network planning. An activity can consist of several work packages, or one work package can contain several activities.
In project management, the business case justifies the execution of a project. It examines the objectives and impact of a project and illustrates the potential financial and strategic impact of the project.
In project management, all financial resources that are maximally available and released at the same time are called "budget" or "project budget". The budget is usually released by the steering committee and/or by the client.
Classic Project Management
The classic project management, also called the waterfall method, is characterized by precise planning and a plan-oriented execution. Deviations in time, costs and project scope should be kept to a minimum. Typically, the project is subdivided by milestones and executed in accordance with the following project phases: Initiation, planning, control and completion.
The Critical Path is an important part of a Gantt chart. It marks all those processes whose timely implementation is mandatory, since their later completion would have direct impact on the achievement of the target date.
Control / Controlling
Controlling basically means taking measures to implement the project plan as accurately as possible. In doing so, deadlines, costs and results should be within the previously defined tolerance range.
Design Thinking is a management tool that combines creative and analytical methods. It aims to release maximum creative potential among all stakeholders of an innovation project in order to systematically solve complex problems or tasks in a customer- and above all user-oriented manner.
In project management, effort is usually defined as the amount of work required to achieve a specific (project) goal. The effort is often expressed in person hours, person days or person weeks.
Earned Value Analysis
The Earned Value Analysis is used to evaluate the progress of projects. The current scheduling and cost situation is expressed by the planned value, the actual value and the earned value.
The Eisenhower Matrix, named after US President Dwight D. Eisenhower, originally was a method to prioritize tasks, projects or portfolios and facilitate decision-making.
Financial Project Resources
For a project to be carried out, it must be possible to cover all necessary resources financially/monetary. Therefore, project management must ensure that the costs of e.g. operations, work packages or projects are covered and that sufficient liquid financial resources are available.
In a Gantt chart (named after Henry Gantt) all work steps within a project are displayed as horizontal bars along a time axis. Thus, duration, overlaps and dependencies of all activities are visible at a glance. Gantt scheduling is one of the most common methods in project management.
Originally developed to support the production process, the kanban board often has three columns: "Open", "In progress" and "Completed". Work elements are usually represented as rectangles (physically, e.g. with sticky notes) and are located in the corresponding areas depending on their status. If the status of the work element has changed, it is moved to the corresponding area.
Key figures are quantitative parameters, i.e., numbers filtering out the key information from a flood of data. A distinction is made between absolute and relative key figures. You can use key figures to assess and evaluate the current status and development of a project or an entire company, for example.
Kick-off Workshop / Kick-off Meeting
A "kick-off workshop" or "kick-off meeting" is the first meeting at the start of the project in which all project participants take part, including the client, decision-makers and stakeholders. The kick-off workshop creates a common basis, promotes motivation and is crucial for the further success of the project.
KPI(s) (Key Performance Indicator)
See Key Figures.
The "Magic Triangle" visualizes the project factors time, resources/costs and quality. Each factor stands for one edge of the triangle. If one factor changes, the other factors are also influenced.
A milestone is a verifiable event without duration and activity. The setting of such milestones, or intermediate goals, facilitates project planning and project controlling.
All milestones are listed in a milestone plan. In addition, a milestone plan contains further important information about adherence to deadlines and delays and their effects on other milestones or project closure.
Milestone Trend Analysis MTA
Milestone trend analysis, also known as MTA for short, is a method used to control the achievement of milestones or adherence to deadlines in a project. The MTA visualizes the defined milestones from the start to the planned finish date. The horizontal axis is divided into reporting dates, for example weeks or months. The vertical axis represents the date of each milestone at each checkpoint. Various trends can be identified when using connecting lines.
Method-oriented Project Management
Method-oriented project management is the process of managing a project according to specific project management standards (e.g.: IPMA, PMI or PRINCE2).
If several projects are executed simultaneously within an organization, this is called "multi-project management". In contrast to program management, multi-project management includes all projects of an organization. The term "multi-project management" is primarily used in the German-speaking world.
A non-objective describes a condition that must NOT occur after the project has been implemented.
The performance progress, also called project progress, reflects the progress of a project on a certain key date.
Planning / Project Planning
Project planning is one of the most important components of project management. It is part of the four phases of traditional project management (initiation, planning, control, completion) and also occupies an important but more flexible place in agile project management.
A planning instrument is a tool or method that is helpful in project planning and the later executing of the project. Common planning instruments in traditional project management are, for example, the work breakdown structure, the schedule/Gantt or the milestone plan.
In project management, a portfolio is an amount of projects that are managed together. Projects are bundled in a portfolio if they are comparable, if they can be assigned to a certain unit (e.g. business unit), if they are interdependent, or if synergy effects result from the bundling.
In portfolio analysis, the projects in a portfolio are assessed, evaluated and compared with each other on the basis of certain criteria. A common method for portfolio analysis is, for example, the Eisenhower Matrix.
Portfolio management generally refers to the bundling and management of objects (tangible or intangible). In project management this means the management of projects that are bundled in a portfolio. The differentiation to „multi project management“ is not clear in the German-speaking world.
A program consists of several sub-projects that contribute to an overall program objective. Very large and complex projects are often split up into several sub-projects, which automatically makes the original project the program.
Program management is the planning, management and control of one or more programs, i.e. of several sub-projects that have been combined into one program.
Program Charter / Project Order
The official placing of an order for a project is called a project order or project charter. A signed project charter authorizes the project and serves as a guideline regarding goals, resources and deadlines during its implementation
A project is a goal-oriented, specific activity, with a start and end date. Taking into account a defined budget, a previously defined goal is to be achieved at a previously determined quality.
Project acceptance takes place after project completion and is initiated by the contractor. As soon as the project is considered completed, the contractor presents the results to the client. If the client is satisfied with the services provided, the contractor accepts the project and the project is officially finished.
When a project is completed, all necessary activities and processes are carried out to complete the project. After the project is completed, the project is accepted by the client.
Project controlling describes all activities that are necessary to control a project over its entire duration. Project controlling is therefore responsible for comparing the project goals, the planned budget and the defined quality with the current project, investigating deviations for their causes and proposing countermeasures.
The project progress shows to what extent the project has progressed at a certain point in time.
Project Progress Report
The progress of the project is documented in a progress report. The progress report contains important information on the status of the project, such as results achieved, (newly identified) risks, and forecasts on the further progress of the project in terms of costs, deadlines, and quality. It is repeated at regular intervals.
The project context is the categorization of the project in objective, temporal and social contexts.
Project coordination includes ongoing support and assurance of project progress, work package execution, quality assurance of results and stakeholder management. Project coordination covers the entire project cycle from the beginning (project charter) to the end (project acceptance).
Project costs are resources used that are necessary to provide the agreed service. Project costs are, for example, personnel costs, material costs, travel costs or other costs. They are shown in the project cost plan.
Project culture is the development of and adherence to certain values, norms and rules. These can be anchored in the project mission statement, project name, project slogan and strengthened through project-specific social events.
Project deliverables are those services that are performed in order to complete a project.
Project management is the initiation, planning, control and completion of a specific activity, the so-called „project“.
Project Manager / Project Leader
A project manager or project leader is the person who leads a project. This person leads the project team and, in addition to project responsibility, also handles administrative and coordinating activities. The terms project manager and project leader are used synonymously in the German language.
In project marketing, the project is presented within the participating company or organisation, and possibly to the public. The aim is to convey a positive image of the project to all stakeholders.
Project organization is the team that implements a project. It defines itself from its own structure, its own rules and its own culture. A characteristic of the project organization is that the organization exists for a limited period of time, which does not exceed the duration of the project to be completed.
The project pipeline represents all projects of an organization in their different phases. The phases of the project pipeline vary from organization to organization. Typical phases are "Idea, Planning, Execution, Completion".
Project planning is one of the main tasks of project management. It takes place after the project, its goals and non-targets have been defined.
Project risks are potential deviations in terms of quality, performance, deadlines or costs during a project life cycle.
A project role is the temporary function of a person during the project duration. The project role describes authority and responsibility as well as organizational tasks. Typical project roles are, for example, client, project manager and project member.
Project Start Date
The project start date indicates the date on which the project is officially launched. PMI and IPMA do not specify a specific event. According to PMI and IPMA, the project can therefore be started between the presentation of the project idea and the start of the first project activity. PRINCE2 sees the project start as being accompanied by the initiation phase of the project.
Project Start Event
The project start event is the event at which the project is officially launched. Typical project start events are the signing of the project order or the kick-off meeting.
Project End Date
The project end date is the officially fixed date on which a project is to be completed. Together with the project start date, it limits the temporal characteristics of the project.
Project End Event
The project end event takes place on the project end date and is, for example, the official acceptance of the project by the client or the signing of the project completion report.
Project Start Process
In the project start process, the know-how from the pre-project phases is typically bundled in a workshop and/or by means of individual discussions, project objectives are agreed upon, first drafts of the project plan are created and the project team is set up. Initial project risks are also considered, a specific project culture is developed and a first "big picture" is jointly constructed.
The project status represents the current status of the project. Often the project status is visualized by means of the three traffic light colors green (everything in order, no action required), yellow (action required), red (attention, urgent action required).
The project cockpit visualizes the most important project data such as time, costs, resources and the progress of a project typically in graphical form.
A project team is defined as all those people who are involved in the project. This includes first and foremost the client, the project manager and project team. In the broadest sense, the project team is also part of the project stakeholders.
A project date marks an important event in the course of the project. By using absolute time specifications (date and possibly time), the project date is set to a specific point in time. Typical project dates are project start, project end, kick-off workshop, milestones etc.
The project environment is divided into objective and social environmental factors. The objective environment includes technical, economic, organizational, social and legal factors, the social environment includes all persons and groups of persons who have a legitimate interest in the project or its results (stakeholders). The environmental factors affect the project in different ways and must be taken into account by the project manager and team.
Project Environment Analysis
Project environment analysis means the identification as well as the holistic consideration and systematic listing of all environmental factors (=stakeholders) that have a positive or negative influence on the project. The analysis includes and evaluates, among other things, the attitude towards the project, power and influence, conflict potential as well as expectations and fears of stakeholders.
Project Objective / Project Goal
A project objective describes the desired target state after the implementation of a project. Project objectives should be formulated in a specific, measurable, accepted, realistic and scheduled (SMART criteria) way. They facilitate the planning and performance measurement of projects.
The term process is derived from the Latin term "procedere" and means something like "to go forward". A process describes a development or a course or a system in motion.
Process management is the identification, design, documentation, implementation, control and improvement of processes.
In a plan/actual comparison, the target, i.e. the planned values, and the actual values of a project are compared. Using a plan/actual comparison, you can quickly identify deviations, estimate the future course of the project and derive measures.
The term "quality" describes the characteristics and the condition of an item. This can be, for example, an object, a product, a service or a project. "Quality" is also often used as a synonym for high quality.
In project management, resources describe the personnel and material resources required and used to complete a project.
The resource utilization shows the resource usage in a specific period. For more information, see utilization rate.
The resource histogram displays a graphical visualization of resource utilization in a given period.
In (project) reporting, deviations in time, cost and quality are made visible at regular intervals.
Risk management is the listing and evaluation of all project risks. If necessary, measures are added to the risks, which are evaluated at regular intervals.
Risk measures are measures that are formulated and implemented to minimize or avert project risks.
The risk probability reflects the probability of a risk occurring. The probability of occurrence is specified either quantitatively (usually in percent) or qualitatively (low, medium, high).
The risk report contains the risks, the assessment and the prioritization of the risks of a project.
Scrum is an agile project management method, which is mainly used in software development. Scrum consists of a few rules that describe the so-called Core. The basic idea is that a project is not planned from start to finish, but development is iterative with short feedback loops, the so-called Sprints.
(Project) Stakeholders are those persons who are in any way related to or influenced by the respective project.
Stakeholder analysis is the process of defining and dividing stakeholders into groups and determining their interest (high, medium, low), attitude (positive, neutral, negative) and influence (high, medium, low). If necessary, measures are defined with a responsible person, due date and connection to project tasks. The goal is to satisfy the project stakeholders throughout the entire project process.
The status report is an important component of project controlling and is prepared at regular intervals. The project evaluation is often carried out using a so-called status traffic light (green, yellow, red).
Strategic Mission Statement
A strategic mission statement is a written statement of an organisation and expresses the desired target state (vision or ideal) after the implementation of its strategy.
A sub-portfolio is a portfolio that is part of another portfolio. For more information, see „portfolio management“.
The schedule maps the chronological sequence of work packages including start and end dates, as well as milestones and buffer times. The schedule can be planned with a forward or backward calculation.
A task is defined as a specific requirement or obligation that must be fulfilled in order to achieve a certain goal once or permanently. In project management, the task is the smallest existing unit of work. It is carried out by project contributors and, depending on the size of the project, monitored by the project manager, sub-project manager or work package manager.
In general, the throughput time is the time required to run through a particular system. A shorter throughput time and/or shorter working hours can be achieved by successful project management.
Task Management refers to the planning, organizing and controlling of tasks.
A to-do is a task that is usually part of an entire "to-do list".
A to-do list is a list of tasks, so-called "to-dos". In addition to a column for the task name, to-do lists usually contain a column for a due date as well as for a person responsible.
Traditional Project Management
Utilization / Utilization Rate
The utilization indicates the use of resources or operating resources in a specific period (day, week, month, quarter, year). The utilization rate reflects the ratio of actual to maximum possible usage. If the capacity utilization rate is, for example, 50% the resources or operating facilities are only used half of what is possible in the period.
Utilization planning is the planning and optimization of resources or operating resources in a certain period.
A work package is defined as a task that must be completed at a certain point in time with a previously defined effort and result. Work packages are important elements of the work breakdown structure and serve as the basis for scheduling, resource and cost planning.
Work Package Specification
The work package specification defines work contents, objectives and results. This includes the content and objectives of the work package, a clear differentiation from other work packages, as well as dependencies and interfaces between individual work packages.
Work Breakdown Structure / WBS
The work breakdown structure (WBS) is the structuring and arrangement of a project into individual „work packages“ that can be planned and controlled. It serves as a basis for process, schedule, cost and resource planning and is a central communication, information, decision and documentation instrument in the project.