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IAPM Articles > > Project Management > Project Management Glossary Terms

Project Management Glossary Terms

By IAPM Project Research Team

Project Managment Glossary



To agree with or approve a deliverable.

Acceptance Criteria

Requirements that a project or system must demonstrably meet before customers acceptance delivery.

Accounting Period

Set period of time, usually one month, in which project costs and revenues are posted for information and analysis.


Obtaining supplies or services by and for the use of an organization through a purchase or lease.

Active Listening

Paying close attention to what is said, asking the other party to describe carefully and clearly what is meant, and requesting that ideas be repeated to clarify any ambiguity or uncertainty.


Element of work that is required by the project, uses resources, and takes time to complete. Activities have expected durations, costs, and resources requirements and may be subdivided into tasks. See also task definition.

Activity Definition

Identification of specific activities that must be performed to produce the project deliverables. Also called activity description.

Activity Description (AD)

A short phrase or label used in a project network diagram. The activity description normally describes the scope of work of the activity. See also activity definition.

Activity Duration Estimating

Estimating the number of work periods needed to complete individual activities.

Activity-On-Arrow (AOA)

See arrow-diagramming method.

Activity-On-Node (AON)

See precedence diagramming method.

Actual Cost (AC)

Total costs incurred that must relate to whatever cost was budgeted within the planned value and earned value (which can sometimes be direct labor hours alone, direct costs alone, or all costs including indirect costs) in accomplishing work during a given time period. See also earned value.

Actual Cost Of Work Performance (ACWP)

Total costs (direct and indirect) incurred in accomplishing work during a given time period. See also earned value.


See actual cost of work performance.

Actual Finish date (AF)

The point in time that work actually ended on an activity. (Note: In some application areas, the activity is considered "finished" when work is "substantially complete.")

Actual Start date (AS)

The point in time that work actually started on an activity.


See arrow-diagramming method.

Administrative Closure

Activities associated with generating, gathering, and disseminating information to formalize acceptance of the product or service of the project by the sponsor, client, or customer for a specific project phase or at project completion.

Administrative Expense

Expense that cannot be easily identified with a specific function or project but contributes in some way to the project or general business operations.

Affected Groups

The groups who will either be expected to support the project to some degree or whose work, products, or services will be utilized in support of the project or affected by the project outcomes.


The various options available.

Alternatives Analysis

Process of breaking down a complex situation to generate different solutions and approaches and evaluate the impact of trade-offs to attain objectives.

American National Standards Institute (ANSI)

Voluntary organization that helps set standards and also represents the United States in the International Standards Organization (ISO).

Analogous Estimating

Using actual or historical data of a similar activity or project as the basis for the estimate. Analogous estimating is a form of expert judgement.


(1) Study and examination of something complex by separating it into more simple component. Typically, includes discovering the parts of the thing being studied, how they fit together, and why they are arranged in a particular way.
(2) Study of variances for cause, impact, corrective action, and results.


See American National Standards Institute.


See activity-on-arrow.


See activity-on-node.


Overall method by which project objectives will be realized, including methodologies, life cycles, responsibilities, and other associated strategies, tactics, practices, and procedures.

Arrow Diagramming Method (ADM)

Network diagramming technique in which activities are represented by arrows. The tail of the arrow represents the start of the activity; the head of the arrow represents the finish of the activity. The length of the arrow does not represent the expected duration of the activity. Activities are connected at points called nodes (usually drawn as circles) to illustrate the sequence in which activities are expected to be performed. Also called activity-on-arrow.


Factor that is considered to be true, real, or certain and is often used as a basis for decision-making.


Characteristics or property that is appraised in terms of whether it does or does not exist (for example, heads or tails on a coin) with respect to a given requirement.


(1) Formal examination of project's accounts or financial situation.
(2) Methodical examination of the project, either in whole or in part, usually conducted according to pre-established schedules, to assess overall progress performance.

Audit Trail

Record of documentation describing actions taken, decisions made, and funds expended and earned on a project. Used to reconstruct the project after the fact for lessons learned and other purposes.

Authoritarian Management Style

Management approach in which the project manager tells team members what is expected of them, provides specific guidance on what should be done, makes his or her role within the team understood, schedules work, and directs team members to follow standard rules and regulations.


(1) Power of influence, either granted to or developed by individuals, that leads to others doing what those individuals direct.
(2) Formal conferment of such influence through an instrument such as a project charter.


Give final approval; a person who can authorize something is vested with authority to give final endorsement, which requires no further approval.

Authorized Work

Efforts that have been approved by higher authority and may or may not be expressed in specific terms.

Autocratic Management Style

Management approach in which the project manager makes all decisions and exercises tight control over the project team. This style is characterized by communications from the project manager downward to the team and not vice versa.


Risk response strategy that eliminates the threat of a specific risk event, usually by eliminating its potential cause. The project management team can never eliminate all risk, but certain risk events often can be eliminated. See also acceptance and mitigation.





See budget at completion.

Backward Pass

Calculation of late finish and late start dates for uncompleted portions of all network activities. Determined by working backwards through the network logic from the project's end date. See also network analysis and forward pass.

Balanced Matrix

Form of the project organization in which the project manager's authority over project resources is roughly equal to that of the organization's functional managers.


(1) Original plan (for a project, work package, or activity), plus or minus any approved changes. May be used with modifier (for example, cost baseline, schedule baseline, performance measurement baseline).
(2) Normal plan to which deviations will be compared.

Baseline Finish Date

Original planned finish date for a project, work package, or activity, plus or minus any approved changes.

Baseline Project Plan

See project plan.

Baseline Start Date

Original planned start date for a project, work package, or activity, plus or minus any approved changes.


See budgeted cost of work performed.


See budgeted cost of work scheduled.


Gain to be accrued from the successful completion of a project. Benefits are compared to costs to ensure the selection of the most advantageous project or the most effective approach to complete a project.

Benefit-Cost Analysis

Process of estimating tangible and intangible costs (outlays) and benefits (returns) of various projects alternatives and using financial measures, such as return on investment or payback period, to evaluate the relative desirability of the alternatives.

Bill Of Materials (BOM)

(1) Set of physical elements required to build a project.
(2) Hierarchical view of the physical assemblies, subassemblies, and components needed to fabricate a manufacturing product.
(3) Descriptive and quantitative list of materials, supplies, parts, and components required to produce a designated complete end item of materials, assembly, or subassembly.


Standard and essential contract terminology and clauses that are not subject to frequent change. Use of the term can be dangerous because it may lull contract parties into thinking they need not read the clauses, assuming no changes from previous contracts, or assuming the data are not significant.

Bottom-Up Estimating

Cost or budget estimate derived by first estimating the cost of the project's elemental tasks at the lower levels of the WBS and then aggregating those estimates at successively higher levels of the WBS. The project manager typically includes indirect costs, general and administrative expenses, profit, and any reverses when calculating the total project cost estimate. See also definitive estimate.


Problem -solving technique that can be used for planning purposes, risk identification, improvement efforts, and other project-related endeavors. Participants are invited to share their ideas in a group setting, where no disapproving verbal or nonverbal behaviors are permitted. The technique is designed to generate a large number of ideas by helping people to think creatively and allowing them to participate fully, without feeling inhibited or criticized by others.

Budget At Completion (BAC)

Sum of approved cost estimates (including any overhead allocation) for all activities in a project. See also earned value.

Budget Estimate

Estimate of the funds needed to obtain project approval, which includes a combination of fixed and unit prices for labor, material, equipment, and other direct and indirect costs.

Budget Update

Change to an approved cost baseline, generally revised only in response to scope changes.

Budgeted Cost Of Work Performed (BCWP)

Sum of approved cost estimates (including any overhead allocation) for activities (or portions of activities) completed during a given period. See also earned value.

Budgeted Cost Of Work Scheduled (BCWS)

Sum of approved cost estimates (including any overhead allocation) for activities (or portions of activities) scheduled to be preformed during a given period. See also earned value.

Bureaucratic Authority

Influence derived from an individual's knowing the organization's rules, regulations, and procedures and the ways to use them to obtain desired results in an expedient and expeditious manner.

Burn Rate

Rate at which funds are expended on a project (for example, total dollars per day or total dollars per week). Usually quoted based on labor hours only, but may include materials as well.

Business Analyst

A person who gathers and/or supplies business requirements for systems development projects, solicits business involvement, and acts as liaison between the business and the project team. They assist in reviewing and providing input to the resulting system design and may assist with system testing and user training.

Business Complexity

This represents the business difficulty or risk associated with a particular business issue or opportunity that is driving a need for change.

Business Process Model

Decomposition and graphical depiction a specific business process or functional area within an organization. The model shows how each functional area breaks down into processes; each process breaks down into sub processes; and each sub process breaks down into activities.

Business Process Reengineering

Method to improve organizational performance by evaluating and redesigning business processes.





(1) Person who spearheads an idea or action and promotes it throughout the organization.
(2) Person with significant influence who takes personal responsibility (although usually not for day-to-day management) for the successful completion of a project for the organization.


(1) Increase or decrease in any project characteristics - time, cost or technical requirements.
(2) Deviation from agreed-upon specifications, definition, functionally, or plans; alternate approach to project work accomplishments.
(3) Alteration in a contract as permitted by a contract clause.

Change Control

(1) Process of monitoring and dealing with changes to the schedule, cost or scope of a project, or its overall objectives. May be considered a subset of configuration management.
(2) Defined process and procedure for change management during the project life cycle.

Change Control Board (CCB)

Formally constituted group of stakeholders responsible for approving or rejecting changes to the project baselines. Also called configuration control board.

Change Control Procedure

Process for initiating changes to the project baseline configuration; analyzing the impact of changes to project cost, schedule, and scope; approving or disapproving changes; and updating project or product specifications and baselines.

Change Management Plan

(1) Premeditated, documented approach to implementing configuration control.
(2) Approach used to assimilate a new system or set of procedure in an organization.

Change Request

(1) Request for modification to the terms of the contract or to the description of the product or service to be provided.
(2) Formal written statement asking to make a modification to a deliverable.

Changes Or Enhancements

Improved, advanced, or sophisticated features.

Charismatic Authority

Influence derived from an individual's personality. People what is asked of them because they like the asker.


See project charter.


Customer, principal, owner, promoter, buyer, or end user of the product or service created by the project.

Closing Processes

Activities associated with formal acceptance of the phase or project and bringing it to an orderly end.

Code Review

An iterative process whereby someone other than the developer examines source code and provides feedback regarding development aspects, such as bad constructs, poor structure, ambiguity, commenting, poor algorithms, and adherence to standards and specifications.

Combative Management Style

Management approach in which the project manager displays an eagerness to fight or be disagreeable over any given situation.

Commercial Off The Shelf (COTS)

Item, software application, or service available in the commercial market.

Closing Processes

Activities associated with formal acceptance of the phase or project and bringing it to an orderly end.


Effective transfer of information from one party to another; exchanging information between individuals through a common system of symbols, signs, or behavior. Communication comprises four elements:
(1) communicator or sender of a message,
(2) message
(3) medium of the message
(4) receiver of the message.

Communication Channel

Means of communication used to transmit a message. Three communication channel exist in the project environment:
(1) formal-communication within the organization's formal communication structure used to transmit policies, goals, and directives
(2) informal-communication outside the organization's formal communication structure; and
(3) unofficial-interpersonal communication within the organization's social structure.

Communication Management Plan

Document that describes the methods for gathering, distributing, and storing various types of information; provides a production schedule showing when each type of information will be produced; details methods for accessing information between scheduled communications; and incorporates procedures for updating and refining the communication plan. Generally, a part of the overall project plan.

Communication Planning

Process used to identify the general or specific information needs of the project stakeholders, the frequency with which the information is presented to them, and the form the communication will take. Also includes general communication such as press releases, articles, and public presentations.

Communication Requirements

Total information needs of project stakeholders. Information necessary for determining project communication requirements includes:
(1) project organization and stakeholder responsibility relationships;
(2) disciplines, departments, and specialties involved in the project;
(3) number of individuals involved in the project and their locations; and
(4) external information needs (such as communicating with the media).


Critical skill, or in some cases personality characteristics, required of an individual to complete an activity or project, or otherwise required for a certain position. For example, the ability to think strategically is considered by some to be a critical competency for a person who will be the project manager of a large and complex project.

Completed Activity

Activity with an actual finish date and no remaining duration.


(1) Adhering to any standards, procedures, or processes established as necessary for operational effectiveness.
(2) Meeting all technical, contractual, and price/cost requirements of a request for proposal.

Conceptual Solution

Initial technical approach developed to satisfy project requirements as they are known early in the project.

Conciliatory Management Style

Management approach in which the project manager is friendly and agreeable and attempts to unite all project parties involved to provide compatible working team.

Conditional Diagramming Method

Diagramming techniques, such as GERT or system dynamic models, that allow nonsequential activities such as loops or conditional branches.

Configuration Control

Process of maintaining the baseline identification and monitoring all changes to that baseline. Prevents unnecessary or marginal changes to the project scope while expediting the approval and implementation of changes that are considered needed or that offer significant project benefits.

Configuration Control Board

See change control board.

Configuration Management

(1) Process used to apply technical and administrative direction to document the functional and physical characteristics of an item or system, control any changes to the characteristics, record and report the changes and their implementation status, and audit the item or system to verify conformance to requirements.
(2) Approach used to control changes to these characteristics and provide information on the status of engineering or contract changes actions. Comprises three major areas of effort: configuration identification, configuration status accounting, and configuration control.

Conflict Management

Process by which an individual uses managerial techniques to deal with disagreements, both technical and personal in nature, that develop among the individuals working on the project.

Conflict Resolution

Process if seeking a solution to a problem. Generally, five methods are available:
(1) problem solving or confrontation, where two parties work together towards a solution of the problem,
(2) compromising, where both sides agree such that each wins or loses on certain significant issues,
(3) forcing, where the project manager uses his or her power to direct the solution, resulting in a type of win-lose agreement where one side gets its way and the other does not,
(4) smoothing, where the major points of agreement are given the most attention and differences between the two sides are not highlighted and are thus not resolved, and
(5) withdrawing, where one or both sides withdraw from conflict.


Disadvantages; an argument or opinion against something.

Consensual Management Style

Management approach in which the project manager presents problems to team members for discussion or input and encourages them to make decisions. This approach results in an increase in team member commitment to the group decision but also in the amount of time required to reach that decision.


General accord. Each participant strongly agrees with the decision, or can live with it. Consensus is not reached if a participant strongly disagrees with the decision or can not live with it.


(1) Restriction that affects the scope of the project, usually with regard to availability, assignment, or use of project cost, schedule, or resources.
(2) Any factors that affects when or how an activity can be scheduled.
(3) Any factor that limits the project team's options and can lead to pressure and resulting frustrations among team members.


(1) Provision for any project risk element within the project scope; particularly important when comparison of estimates and actual data suggests that certain risk events are likely to occur. If an allowance for escalation is included in the contingency, such should be a separate item, calculated to fit expected price level escalation conditions for project.
(2) Possible future action that may stem from presently known causes, the cost outcome of which cannot be determined accurately. See also reserve and contingency plan.

Contingency Plan

Plan that identifies alternative strategies to be used if specified risk events occur. Examples include a contingency reverse in the budget, alternative schedule activity sequences, and emergency responses to reduce the impact of risk events.

Contract Administration

Management of the relationship with the contractor from contract award to closeout, focused specifically on ensuring that the contractor delivers a product or service in conformance with the contract's requirements.

Contract Work Breakdown Structure (CWBS)

Tool used to describe the total product and work to be done to satisfy a specific contract. Normally prepared by a contractor to reflect the statement of work in a specific contract or request for proposal. Used to define the level of reporting the contractor will provide the buyer. See also work breakdown structure.

Control Account Plan (CAP)

Previously called a Cost Account Plan. The CAP is a management control point where the integration of scope and budget and schedule takes place, and where the measurement of performance will happen. CAPs are placed at selected management points of the work breakdown structure.

Controlling Processes

Actions taken by the project team to ensure that project objectives are met, by monitoring and measuring progress and taking corrective action when needed.


General accord. Each participant strongly agrees with the decision, or can live with it. Consensus is not reached if a participant strongly disagrees with the decision or can not live with it.


See project management controls.

Corrective Action

Changes made to bring expected future performance of the project in line with the project plan.


(1) Cash value of project activity; value associated with materials and resources expended to accomplish project objectives.
(2) Sum or equivalent that is expended, paid, or charged for something.

Cost Account

(1) Defined work element or category for which actual costs can be accumulated and compared to BCWP.
(2) Cost category that represents the work assigned to one responsible organizational unit on a CWBS.

Cost Baseline

Time-phased budget used to measure and monitor cost performance on the project. Developed by summing estimated cost by period and usually displayed in the form of an S-curve.

Cost Budgeting

Allocating cost estimates to individual project components.

Cost Center

Subdivision of an activity for which identification of cost is desired and through which costs can be controlled through one responsible manager.

Cost Estimating

Process of estimating the cost of the resources needed to complete project activities. Includes an economic evaluation, an assessment of project investment cost, and a forecast of future trends and costs.

Cost Forecasting

Process of predicting future trends and cost throughout the project.

Cost Management

Function required to maintain effective financial control of the project by evaluating, estimating, budgeting, monitoring, analyzing, forecasting, and reporting cost information.

Cost Of Quality

Cost incurred or expended to ensure quality, including those associated with the cost of conformance and nonconformance.

Cost Overrun

Amount by which actual project cost exceed estimated costs.

Cost Performance Index (CPI)

Ratio of budgeted cost to actual costs (BCWP / ACWP). Often used to predict the amount of a possible cost overrun or under run using the following formula: BAC CPI = EAC. See also earned value.

Cost Variance (CV)

(1) Difference between the estimated and actual cost of an activity.
(2) In earned value, the numerical difference between BCWP and ACWP.

Cost-Plus-Award Fee (CPAF) Contract

Cost-reimbursement contract that provides for a fee that consists of
(1) a base fee (which may be zero) fixed at inception of the contract and
(2) an award fee based on periodic judgmental evaluation by the procuring authority. Used to provide motivation for performance in areas such as quality, timeliness, technical ingenuity, and cost-effective management during the contract. In cost type contracts, the performance risk is borne mostly by the buyer, not the seller.

Cost-Plus-Fixed Fee (CPFF) Contract

Type of contract in which the buyer reimburses the contractor for the contractor's allowable costs ( as defined by the contract) plus a fixed amount of profit (fee). The fixed fee does not vary with actual cost but may be adjusted if changes occur in the work to be performed under the contract. In cost type contracts, the performance risk is borne mostly by the buyer, not the seller.

Cost-Plus-Incentive Fee (CPIF) Contract

Type of contract in which the buyer reimburses the contractor for the contractor's allowable costs (as defined by the contract) and the seller earns its earns fee (profit) if it meets defined performance or cost criteria. Specifies a target cost, target fee, minimum fee, maximum fee, and fee adjustment formula.

Cost-Plus-Percentage-Of-Cost (CPPC) Contract

Type of contract that provides reimbursement of allowable cost of services performed plus an agreed-upon percentages of the estimated cost as profits. In cost type contracts, the performance risk is borne mostly by the buyer, not the seller.

Cost-Reimbursement Contract

Contract category that involves payment (reimbursement) to the contractor for its actual costs.


See cost performance index.


See critical path method.


Taking action to decrease the total project duration by adding resources (human and material) to the project schedule without altering the sequence of activities. The objective of crashing is to obtain the maximum duration compression for the least cost. See also duration compression.


(1) A fact or standard by which judgements, decisions or actions are taken.
(2) Objectives, guidelines, procedures, and standards to be used for project development, design, or implementation.

Critical Activity

Activity on a critical path, commonly determined by using the critical path method.

Critical Path

In a project network diagram, the series of activities that determine the earliest completion of the project. Will change as activities are completed ahead of a behind schedule. Although normally calculated for the entire project, may also be determined for a milestone or subproject. Often defined as those activities with float less than or equal to specified value, often zero. See also critical path method.

Critical Path Method (CPM)

Network analysis technique used to predict project duration by analyzing the sequence of activities (path) that has the least amount of scheduling flexibility (the least amount of float). Early dates are calculated by a forward pass using a specified start date. Late dates are calculated by a backward pass starting from a specified completion date (usually the forward pass's calculated early finish date for the project).

Critical Path Network (CPN)

Project plan consisting of activities and their logical relationship to one another. Out of the critical path method.

Critical Risk

Rick that can jeopardize achievement of project's cost, time, or performance objectives.


Computer Resource Management

Cumulative Cost Curve

Graphic display used to show planned and actual expenditures to monitor cost variances. The difference in the height between the curves for planned expenditures and actual expenditures represents the monetary value of spending variance at any given time.

Current Finish Date

Current estimate of the point in time when an activity will finish.

Current Start Date

Current estimate of the point in time when an activity will begin.


See Client

Customer Acceptance

Documented signoff by the customer that all project deliverables satisfy requirements.


See cost variance


See contract work breakdown structure




Data Date (DD)

The date at which, or up to which, the project's reporting system has provided actual status and accomplishments. Also called as-of-date.


Subdivision of the major project deliverables into smaller, more manageable components until the deliverables are defined in sufficient detail to support future project activities (planning, executing, controlling, and closing).


Nonconformance of a characteristics with specified requirements, or a deficiency in something necessary for an item's intended, proper use.

Definitive Estimate

Used to develop the precise estimates needed to tactically manage and complete a project. The definitive estimate is the most accurate estimate for the amount of work and resources needed to complete the project. They are estimates consider to have a "+ or - 20%" accuracy. The definitive estimates are the estimates that the organization will commit to in order for the project to baseline, tactically manage the project or a major phase, and report performance against.


Measurable, tangible, verifiable outcome, result, or item that must be produced to complete a project or part of a project. Often used more narrowly in reference to an external deliverable, which is a deliverable that is subject to approval by the project sponsor or customer.

Delphi Estimating

The Delphi estimating technique uses a group of subject matter experts who develop estimates independently, discuss differences and assumptions, and go through one or more revision cycles, until a single estimate is agreed upon.

Delphi Technique

Form or participative expert judgment; an iterative, anonymous, interactive technique using survey methods to derive consensus on work estimates, approaches, and issues.

Deming Cycle

See plan-do-check-act (PDCA) cycle.

Democratic Management Style

Participative management approach in which the project manager and project team make decisions jointly.


Logical relationship between and among tasks of project's WBS, which can be graphically depicted on a network diagram. See also logical relationship.

Dependent Tasks

Tasks that are related such that the beginning or end of one task is contingent on the beginning or end of another.

Design Review

Formal, documented, comprehensive, and systematic examination of a design to evaluate is capability to meet specified requirements, identify problems, and propose solutions.

Design Specifications

Precise measurements, tolerances, materials, in-process and finished-product tests, quality control measures, inspection requirements, and other specific information that precisely describes how the work is to be done.

Detail Specifications

Written instructions detailing the objectives and design of an object.

Detail Specifications

Written instructions detailing the objectives and design of an object.

Detailed Design

Output of system design; a technical or engineering description of a system that provides individual views of the system components; details on the physical layout of the system; and information on the system's individual applications, subsystems, and hardware components.

Detailed Requirement

A requirement that describes the specific function that a particular product provides at a level of detail sufficient to support construction.

Development Methodology

Set of mutually supportive and integrated processes and procedures organized into a series of phases constituting the development cycle of a product or service.

Direct Project Costs

Costs directly attributable to a project, including all personnel, goods, or services and their associated costs, but not including indirect project costs, such as overhead and general office costs incurred in support of the project.

Direct Overhead

Portion of overhead cost that can be directly attributable to a project, such as rent, lighting and insurance.


Area of technical expertise or specialty.

Discretionary Dependency

Dependency defined by preference, rather than necessity. Also called preferred logic, preferential logic, or soft logic.

Disruptive Management Style

Management approach in which the project manager tends to destroy the unity of the team, be an agitator, and cause disorder on the project.

Document Control

System to control and execute project documentation in a uniform and orderly fashion.


Collection of reports, information, records, references, and other project data for distribution and archival purposes.


Data Resource Management

Dummy Activity

Activity of zero duration that shows a logical relationship in the arrow diagramming method. Used when logical relationships cannot be completely or correctly described with regular activity arrows. Shown graphically as a dashed line headed by an arrow.

Duration (DU)

Number of work periods required to complete an activity or other project element. Usually expressed as hours, workdays, or workweeks. Sometimes incorrectly equated with elapsed time. See also efforts.

Duration Compression

Shortening of the schedule without reducing the project scope. Often requires an increase in the project cost. Also called schedule compression. See also crashing and fast-tracking.





See estimate at completion

Early Finish Date (EF)

Earliest possible point in time when the uncompleted portions of an activity (or the project) can end based on network logic and any schedule constraints. May change as the project progresses or as changes are made to the project plan. Used in the critical path method.

Early Start Date (ES)

Earliest possible point in time when the uncompleted portions of an activity (or the project) can begin, based on network logic and any schedule constraints. May change as the project progresses or as changes are made to the project plan. Used in the critical path method.

Earned Value (EV)

Analysis of a project's schedule and financial progress as compared to the original plan. See also actual cost of work performed, budgeted cost of work scheduled, budgeted cost of work performed, budget at completion, cost variance, cost performance index, schedule variance, and schedule performance index.


See early finish date.

Efficiency Factor

Ratio of standard performance time to actual performance, usually expressed as a percentage.


Number of labor units required to complete an activity or other project element. May be expressed as staff hours, days, or weeks. Should not be confused with duration.

Eighty-Hour Rule

Method of breaking down each project activity or task into work packages that require no more than 80 hours of effort to complete.


Worked out with care and detail; developed thoroughly.

Enabling Product

A product which is not delivered to the customer or end user, but which is necessary to develop, support, maintain, or retire the end product.

End Product

Deliverable resulting from project work.

End user

Person or group for whom the project's product or service is developed.

End User Representative

A selected sample of end users who represent the total populations of end users.


Change or group of changes to the scope of an existing project that provides additional functionality, features, or capabilities.


(1) Company or organization.
(2) Subpart of a company or organization.
(3) Business of a customer.

Enterprise Project Management (EPM)

Comprehensive implementation and practice of project management based on the recognition that the sum total of an organization's work is a portfolio of simultaneous and interconnected projects that need to be managed collectively as well as individually.

Entry Criteria

The conditions that must be satisfied before an activity can be started.


See early start date.

Estimate At Completion (EAC)

Expected total cost of an activity, group of activities, or total project when the work is complete. Forecast of total project costs based on project performance to date. PMBOK provides three methods of calculating EAC; EAC = ACWP + ETC; BAC CPI; and ACWP + BCWS. Also called forecast at completion or latest revised estimate. See also earned value and estimate to complete.

Estimate To Complete (ETC)

Expected additional cost needed to complete an activity, group of activities, or the total project. Most techniques for forecasting ETC include an adjustment to the original based on project performance to date. See also earned value and estimate at completion.


Forecasting the cost, schedule, and resource requirements needed to produce a specific deliverable.


See estimate to complete.


See earned value


Network diagramming technique in which events are represented by boxes (or nodes) connected by arrows to show the sequence in which the events are to occur. Used in the Program Evaluation and Review Technique.

Exit Criteria

The conditions that must be satisfied before the process element is considered complete.


Items identified that are not to be included, which are kept out or omitted.

Executing Processes

Activities associated with coordinating people and other resources to implement the project plan.

Executive Management (OIS)

The group of OIS Managers collectively responsible for all of the OIS organizational units. Accountable for all Information Service (IS) initiatives, responsible to align IS with the business enterprise, exploits IS opportunities, manages IS-related risks appropriately, and ensures IS resources are used responsibly.

Expected Results

The desired outcome of a scenario defined in a test plan.

Expected Value

In risk management, results of multiplying the probability of a variable's occurrence with its estimated monetary impact. Although a theoretical figure, it provides some sense of the value of the loss incurred should the risk occur.

Expert Judgment

Opinions, advise, recommendations, or commentary proffered, usually upon request, by a person or persons recognized, either formally or informally, as having specialized knowledge or training in a specific area.

External Audit

Audit performed by anyone outside the project team.

External Dependency

Dependency that involves a relationship between project and non-project activities.

External Risk

Risk beyond the control or influence of the project team. See also internal risk.





See forecast at completion


Person external to a group whose purpose is to help the group work more effectively.

Facilities Management Style

Management approach in which the project manager makes himself or herself available to answer questions and provide guidance when needed but does not interfere with day-to-day tasks.


Compressing the project schedule by overlapping activities normally performed in sequence, such as design and construction. Sometimes confused with concurrent engineering.


Assessment of the capability for successful implementation; the possibility, probability, and suitability of accomplishment.

Feasibility Study

Examination of technical and cost data to determine the economics potential and practicality of project applications. Involves the use of techniques such as the time value of money so that projects may be evaluated and compared on an equivalent basis. Interest rates, present value factor, capitalization costs, operating costs, and depreciation are all considered.


Information derived from observation of project activities, which is used to analyze the status of the job and take corrective action if necessary.


See finish-to-finish

Finish Date

Point in time associated with an activity's or project's completion. Usually qualified by terms such as actual, planned, estimated scheduled, early, late, baseline, target, or current.

Finish-To-Finish (FF)

Relationship in precedence and diagramming method network in which one activity must end before the successor activity can end. See also logical relationship.

Finish-To-Start (FS)

Relationship in a precedence diagramming method network in which one activity must end before the successor activity can start. The most commonly used relationship in the precedence diagramming method. See also logical relationship.

Firm-Fixed-Price (FFP)Contract

Type of contract in which the buyer pays the contractor a set amount (as defined by the contract) regardless of the contractor's costs. In the fixed-price contracts, the performance risk in borne mostly by the seller, not the buyer.


See Ishikawa diagram.

Fixed Cost

Cost that does not vary with volume of output.

Fixed-Price Incentive (FPI) Contract

Type of contract in which the buyer pays the contractor for the actual allowable cost incurred, not to exceed a ceiling price defined in the contract, and the contractor can earn more or less profit depending on its ability to meet defined performance or cost criteria. In fixed-price contracts, the performance risk is borne mostly by the seller, not the buyer.

Fixed-Price Level-Of Effort Contract

Type of firm-fixed-price contract requiring the contractor to provide a specified level of effort over a stated period of time in work that can be stated only in general terms.


Type of contract with a firm pricing arrangement established by the parties at the time of contracting. A firm-fixed-price contract is not subject to adjustment on the basis of the contractor's cost experience in performing the contract. Other types of fixed-price contracts (fixed-price contract with economic price adjustment, fixed-price incentive contract, fixed-price re determination prospective contract, and fixed-price re determination retroactive contract) are subject to price adjustment on the basis of
(1) Economic conditions or
(2) The contractor's performance of the contract.


Amount of time that an activity may be delayed from its early start without delaying the project end date. Derived by subtracting the early start from the late start or early finish from the late finish, and may change as the project progresses and as changes are made to the project plan. Also called slack, total float, and path float. See also free float.

Floating Task

Task that can be performed earlier or later in the schedule without affecting the project duration or critical path.


Diagram consisting of symbols depicting a physical process, a thought process, or an algorithm. Shows how the various elements of a system or process relate and which can be used for continuous process improvement.


See conflict resolution


Estimate or prediction of future conditions and events based on information and knowledge available at the time of the estimate.

Forecast At Completion (FAC)

See estimate at completion

Forecast Estimating

Using a historical base of previous estimates or actuals and applying variables to determine a predictable estimate. The technique uses a forecasting algorithm, which includes variables and their impact, to the selected base data.


Estimating or predicting future conditions and events. Generally done during the planning process. Often confused with budgeting, which is a definitive allocation of resources rather than a prediction or estimate.

Formal Acceptance

Documentation signifying that the customer or sponsor has accepted the product on the project or phase. May be conditional if the acceptance is for a phase of the project.

Formal Authority

Influence based on an individual's position in the organization and conferred upon that person by the organization. Also called legitimate authority.

Formula Estimating

Method of work effort estimation using a prescribed method or formula to list and quantify major factors that impact project or product development.

Forward Pass

Calculation of the early start and early finish dates for the uncompleted portions of all network activities. See also network analysis and backward pass.


See fixed-price incentive contract.


See subnet

Free Float

Amount of time that an activity may be delayed without delaying the early start of any immediately succeeding activities. Also called secondary float.


See finish-to-start

Functional Department

Specialized department within an organization that performs a particular function, such as engineering, manufacturing, or marketing.

Functional Manager

See line manager

Functional Organization

Organizational structure in which staff are grouped hierarchically by specialty, such as production, marketing, engineering, and accounting at the top level, with each area further divided into sub areas. (For example, engineering can be subdivided into mechanical, electrical, and so on). Coordination is accomplished by functional "line" managers and upper levels of management.

Functional Requirements

Characteristics of the deliverable described in ordinary, non-technical language that is understandable to the customer. Customer plays a major, direct role in their development.

Function-Point Analysis

Approach to estimating software costs that involves examining the project's initial high-level requirements statements, identifying specific functions, and estimating total cost based on the number of functions to be performed.





See general and administrative expense

Gantt Chart

A Gantt Chart is a horizontal bar chart that graphically displays time relationships. In effect, it is a "scale" model of time because the bars are different lengths depending upon the amount of time they represent. It is named after Henry Laurence Gantt, the American engineer and social scientist who first developed it. Gantt charts have been around since the early 1900s and are frequently used in business to plan and manage large projects.

Gap Analysis

(1) Examination of the difference between the current state and the desired or optimum state.
(2) Technique to help visualize the budget options available in project portfolios. Uses exploratory and normative forecasting and compares the curves associated with the total budget requirements of existing projects with that of the total anticipated budget for all projects, even those that are not under way. An anticipated gap can be determined and analyzed.

General And Administrative (G&A) Expense

Management, financial, or other expense incurred by or allocated to an organizational unit for the general management and administration of the organization as a whole.

General Management

Broad subject dealing with every aspect of managing an organization whose work is a continuous stream of activities. General management and project management share similar skills.

Generally Accepted

The knowledge and practices are applicable to most projects, most of the time, and that there is widespread consensus about their value and usefulness.


See Graphical Evaluation and Review Technique

Go/No Go

(1) Major decision point in the project life cycle.
(2) Measure that allows a manager to decide whether to continue, change, or end an activity or project.
(3) Type of gauge that tells an inspector if an object's dimension is within certain limits.


Basic component for measuring progress in attaining project objectives.


Providing more than the customer or specifications require, and thus spending more time and money than necessary to achieve quality.


Category or rank given to items that have the same functional use but do not share the same requirements for quality; low quality is always a problem, but low grade may not be.


Informal and unofficial communications path within an organization. Grapevine information has been shown to be accurate but usually incomplete.

Graphical Evaluation And Review Technique (GERT)

Network analysis technique that allows for conditional and probabilistic treatment of logical relationships (for example, some activities may not be performed). See also conditional diagramming method.


Document that recommends methods and procedures to be used to accomplish an objective.





Group of related activities that is shown as one aggregate activity and reported at a summary level. May or may not have an internal sequence. See also subnet.


Unintended break in a network path. Usually occurs as a result of missing activities or missing logical relationship.

Happy Path

A default scenario with no exceptional conditions.

Hard Logic

See mandatory dependency

Help Desk

Provides a single point of contact for customers to resolve PC/Mainframe hardware and software problems.

Herzberg's Theory Of Motivation

Theory of motivation developed by Fredrick Herzberg in which he asserts that individuals are affected by two opposing forms of motivation: hygiene factors and motivators. Hygiene factors such as pay, attitude of supervisor, and working conditions serve only to demotivate people if they are not provided in the type or amount required by the person. Improving hygiene factors under normal circumstances is not likely to increase motivation. Factors such as greater freedom, more responsibility, and more recognition serve to enhance self-esteem and are considered the motivators that energize and stimulate the person to enhance performance.


Problem-solving technique that results in an acceptable solution; often arrived at by trial and error.

Hierarchical Management

Traditional functional, or line, management in which areas and sub areas of expertise are created and staffed with human resources. Organizations so established are ongoing in nature.

High Level

A general description or definition.

High-Level Requirement

A requirement that broadly expresses a system-level response to a stakeholder need. High-level requirements usually need to be analyzed and refined with more detail.

High-Performance Work Teams

Group of people who work together in an interdependent manner such that their collective performance exceeds that which would be achieved by simply adding together their individual contributions. Characteristics of such a team include strong group identify, collaboration, anticipating and acting on other team members needs, and a laser-like focus on project objectives.


Timeline chart that shows the use of a resource over time.

Historical Cost

Actual cost incurred in performing the work.

Historical Estimating

Method of estimating work efforts and costs using documented data past project or from similar tasks as the major input to the estimating process.

Human Resource Loading Chart

Vertical bar chart used to show personnel resource consumption by time period.

Human Resource Management

See project human resource management.




Idle Time

Time interval during which the project team, equipment, or both, do not perform useful work.


See invitation for bid.


Estimate of the effect that a risk will have on schedule, costs, product quality, safety, and performance.

Impact Analysis

Qualitative or quantitative assessment of the magnitude of loss or gain to be realized should a specific risk or opportunity event - or series of interdependent events-occur.

Incremental Approach

Phased approach to project completion whereby certain project functionalities and capabilities are delivered in phases. Allows stakeholders to realize certain benefits earlier than if they were to wait for the total project to be completed.

Indirect Cost

(1) Cost not directly identified with one final cost objective. May be identified with two or more final or one or more intermediate cost objectives.
(2) Cost allocated to the project by the performing organization as a cost of doing business. Also called overhead cost or burden. See also direct cost.

Information Distribution

Timely provision of needed information to project stakeholders in a variety of formats.

Information Requirement

Information needed to perform day-to-day operations.

Information System

Complex, interactive structure of people, equipment, processes, and procedures designed to produce information collected from both internal and external sources for use in decision-making activities.

Information Systems Steering Committee(ISSC)

The information technology (IT) strategic planning, policy and advocacy body for the DHS enterprise.


Work performed by one's own employees as opposed to an outside contractor.

Initial Project Plan

(1) Top-down, high-level plan used to document the early approach to a project; usually contains resource manager commitments and a preliminary technical solution.
(2) Method for communication during the delegation of a project responsibility and acceptance of a project commitment.

Initiating Processes

Procedures for recognizing that a project or phase should begin and committing to start it.


Process of formally recognizing that a new project exists or that an existing project should continue into its next phase.


(1) Information or other items required to begin a processes or activity.
(2) Documents or documentable items to be acted upon.
(3) Information, thoughts, or ideas used to assist in decision-making.


Examination or measurement of work to verify whether an item or activity conforms to a specific requirement.

Integrated Project Plan

An integrated collection of documents that represents agreement and ensures that all the various elements of the work, costs, scope, and schedule are properly defined, resourced, coordinated, and managed. The plans represent a hierarchical breakdown of defined work, costs, resources, deliverables and agreed quality, communication, change, budget, and risk controls.

Integrated System Testing

When a modified system is processed in combination with other systems to ensure it does not inadvertently cause changes in other systems.


Relationship among organizational functions in which one function, task, or activity is dependent on others.


Boundary areas, often ill defined, between departments or functions.

Intermediate Estimate

The intermediate Estimate is used in support of a preliminary plan, a partial plan, or a plan that does not require precise estimating. Estimates developed to support the project plan in the early phases of the project, until a definitive estimate is needed or can be completed. An intermediate estimate is more precise than the ROM estimate, but not as precise as a definitive estimate. It is consider to be within "= or - 30%" accuracy.

Internal Audit

Self-audit conducted by members of the project team or a unit in the organization.

Internal Control

Process of monitoring and dealing with deviations from the project plan.

Internal Documentation

Written information that is associated with the development process, the quality system, and the product; is retained in the project files; and is not part of the final product.

Internal Risk

Risk under the control or influences of the project team. See also external risk.

International Standards Organization (ISO)

Voluntary organization consisting of national standardization bodies of each member country. Prepares and issues standards identified as "ISO-XXXX".

Intimidating Management Style

Management approach in which the manager frequently reprimands team members, to uphold his or her image as a demanding manger, at the risk of lowering team morale.

Invitation For Bid (IFB)

In U.S. federal government procurement, solicitation document used in sealed bidding procurements; generally, equivalent to a request for proposals.


(1) Written account or itemized statement addressed to the purchaser of merchandise shipped or services performed with the quality, prices, and charges listed.
(2) Contractor's bill or written request for payment for work or services performed under the contract.

IRM Plan(Information Resources Management Plan)

Integrated with the Business Plan, "the IRM Plan defines the goals, project plans, and technology needs for a specified biennium. The Plan also identifies the strategic technological direction for supporting and achieving future goals and objectives."

Ishikawa Diagram

Diagram used to illustrate how various causes and sub causes create a specific effect. Named after its developer Kaoru Ishikawa. Also called cause-and effect diagram or fishbone diagram.


See International Standards Organization.

ISO 9000

Set of documented standards to help organizations ensure that their quality systems meet certain minimal levels of consistent performance.


(1) A point or matter of discussion, debate, or dispute.
(2) Formally identified item related to a project that, if not addressed, may-

Affect its schedule Change its direction Diminish its quality Increase its cost

Distinguished from a risk in that it is an extant problem, whereas a risk is a future event. In many organizations, the terms are used interchangeably.

Issue Management

Structured, documented, and formal processes or set of procedures used by an organization or a project to identify, categorize, and resolve issues. See issue.




JAD (Joint Application Development)

A structured, facilitated process for gathering and negotiating requir

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