Acceptance criteria: Performance requirements and essential conditions that have to be achieved before project deliverables are accepted.
Acceptance test: Formal, pre-defined test conducted to determine the compliance of the deliverable item/s with the acceptance criteria.
Acquisition strategy: Determining the most appropriate means of procuring the component parts or services of a project.
Activity definition: Identifies the specific activities that must be performed in order to produce project deliverables.
Activity ID: A unique code identifying each activity in a project.
Actual cost: Incurred costs that are charged to the project budget and for which payment has been made, or accrued.
Actual cost of work performed (ACWP): Cumulative cost of work accrued on the project in a specific period or up t a specific stage. Note: for some purposes cost may be measured in labour hours rather than money.
AND Relationship: Logical relationship between two or more activities that converge on or diverge from an event. Note: The AND relationship indicates that every one of the activities has to be undertaken.
As-Late-As-Possible (ALAP): An activity for which the early start date is set as late as possible without delaying the early dates of any successor.
As-Soon-As-Possible (ASAP): An activity for which the early start date is set to be as soon s possible. This is the default activity type in most project management systems.
Assumptions: Statements taken for granted or truth.
Audit: Systematic retrospective examination of the whole, or part, of a project or function to measure conformance with predetermined standards. Note: Audit is usually qualified, for example financial audit, quality audit, design audit, project audit, health and safety audit.
Backward pass: Procedure whereby the latest event times or the latest finish and start times for the activities of a network are calculated.
Balanced matrix: An organisational matrix where functions and projects have the same priority.
Bar Chart: Chart on which activities and their durations are represented by lines drawn to a common time scale. Note 1: A Gantt chart is a specific type of bar chart and should not be used as a synonym for bar chart. Note 2: See also ‘cascade chart’.
Baseline: Reference levels against which the project is monitored and controlled.
Baseline schedule: The baseline schedule is a fixed project schedule. It is the standard by which project performance is measured. The current schedule is copied into the baseline schedule which remains frozen until it is reset. Resetting the baseline is done when the scope of the project has been changed significantly, for example after a negotiated change. At the point, the original or current baseline becomes invalid and should not be compared with the current schedule.
Benefits management plan: Specifies who is responsible for achieving the benefits set out in the benefits profiles and how achievement of the benefits is to be measured, managed and monitored.
Bottom up cost estimating: This is the method of making estimates for every activity in the work breakdown structure and summarising them to provide a total project cost estimate.
Brainstorming: The unstructured generation of ideas by a group of people
Budget: Quantification of resources needed to achieve a task by a set time, within which the task owners are required to work. Note: a budget consists of a financial and/or quantitative statement, prepared and approved prior to a defined period, for the purpose of attaining a given objective for that period. (The planned cost for an activity or project.)
Budgetary control: System of creating budgets, monitoring progress and taking appropriate action to achieve budgeted performance.
Note: a budget should provide the information necessary to enable approval, authorisation and policy-making bodies to assess a project proposal and reach a rational decision.
Budget at completion (BAC): The sum total of the time-phased budgets.
Budgeted cost of work performed (BCWP): The planned cost of work completed to date. BCWP is also the ‘earned value’ of work completed to date.
Budgeted cost of work scheduled (BCWS): The planned cost of work that should have been achieved according to the project baseline dates
Business case: Information necessary to enable approval, authorisation and policy making bodies to assess a project proposal and reach a reasoned decision
Change log: A record of all project changes, proposed, authorised, or rejected.
Contingency plan: Mitigation plan. Alternative course(s) of action devised to cope with project risks.
Co-ordinated matrix: An organisational structure where the project leader reports to the functional manager and doesn’t have authority over team members from other departments.
Cost benefit analysis: An analysis of the relationship between the costs of undertaking a task or project, initial and recurrent, and the benefits likely to arise from the changed situation, initially and recurrently. Note: the hard, tangible, readily measurable benefits may sometimes be accompanied by soft benefits which may be real but difficult to isolate, measure and value. (Allows comparison of the returns from alternative forms of investment.)
Cost breakdown structure: Hierarchical breakdown of a project into cost elements.
Cost management: The effective financial control of the project through evaluating, estimating, budgeting, monitoring, analysing, forecasting and reporting the cost information.
Cost performance index (CPI): A measure, expressed as a percentage or other ratio of actual cost to budget plan. (Ratio of work accomplished versus work cost incurred for a specified time period. The CPI is an efficiency rating for work accomplished for resources expended.)
Cost plus fixed fee contract: A type of contract where the buyer reimburses the seller for the seller’s allowable costs plus a fixed fee.
Cost plus incentive fee contract (CPIFC): A type of contract where the buyer reimburses the seller for the seller's allowable costs and the seller earns a profit if defined criteria are met.
Cost reimbursement type contracts: A category of contracts based on payments to a contractor for allowable estimated costs, normally requiring only a 'best efforts' performance standard from the contractor. Risk for all growth over the estimated value rests with the project owner.
Cost/schedule planning and control specification (C/SPCS): The United States Air Force initiative in the mid-1960s which later resulted in the C/SCSC.
Cost-time resource sheet (CTR): A document that describes each major element in the work breakdown structure, including a statement of work (SOW) describing the work content, resources required, the time frame of the work element and a cost estimate.
Critical path: Sequence of activities through a project network from start to finish, the sum of whose durations determines the overall project duration.
Note: there may be more than one such path. (The path through a series of activities, taking into account interdependencies, in which the late completion of activities will have an impact on the project end date or delay a key milestone.)
Critical path analysis: Procedure for calculating the critical path and floats in a network.
Critical path method (CPM): A technique used to predict project duration by analysing which sequence of activities has the least amount of scheduling flexibility. The critical path method is a modelling process that defines all the project's critical activities which must be completed on time. The start and finish dates of activities in the project are calculated in two phases. The first phase calculates early start and finish dates from the earliest start date forward. The second phase calculates the late start and finish activities from the latest finish date backwards. The difference between the pairs of start and finish dates for each task is the float or slack time for the task. Slack is the amount of time a task can be delayed without delaying the project completion date. By experimenting with different logical sequences and/or durations the optimal project schedule can be determined.
Critical success factor: A factor considered to be most conducive to the achievement of a successful project
Decision event: State in the progress of a project when a decision is required before the start of any succeeding activity. Note: the decision determines which of a number of alternative paths is to be followed.
Dependency: Precedence relationship. Restriction that one activity has to precede, either in part or in total, another activity. (Dependencies are relationships between products or tasks. For example, one product may be made up of several other ‘dependent’ products or a task may not begin until a ‘dependent’ task is complete. See also logical relationship.)
Discounted cash flow (DCF): Concept of relating future cash inflows and outflows over the life of a project or operation to a common base value thereby allowing more validity to comparison of projects with different durations and rates of cash flow.
Earned value: The value of the useful work done at any given point in a project
Note: the budget may be expressed in cost or labour hours.
Earned value analysis (EVA): Analysis of project progress where the actual money, hours (or other measure) budgeted and spent is compared to the value of the work achieved.
Earned value management: Technique for assessing whether the earned value in relation to the amount of work completed is ahead, on, or behind plan.
Estimate at completion (EAC): A value expressed in either money and/or hours, to represent the projected final costs of work when completed. The EAC is calculated as ETC + ACWP.
Estimate to complete (ETC): The value expressed in either money or hours developed to represent the cost of the work required to complete a task.
Fixed-price contracts: A generic category of contracts based on the establishment of firm legal commitments to complete the required work. A performing contractor is legally obligated to finish the job, no matter how much it costs to complete. Risks of all cost growth rest on the performing contractor.
Float: Time available for an activity or path in addition to its planned duration.
(Float is the amount of time that an activity can slip past its earliest completion date without delaying the rest of the project. The calculation depends on the float type.
Forward pass: A procedure whereby the earliest event times or the earliest start and finish times for the activities of a network are calculated.
Free float: Time by which an activity may be delayed or extended without affecting the start of any succeeding activity. Note: free float can never be negative.
Gantt chart: Particular type of bar chart showing planned activity against time.
Note: 'Gantt chart', although named for a particular type of bar chart, is in current usage as a name for bar charts in general. (A Gantt chart is a time-phased graphic display of activity durations. Activities are listed with other tabular information on the left side with time intervals over the bars. Activity durations are shown in the form of horizontal bars.)
Hammock: Activity, joining two specified points, that span two or more activities.
Note: its duration is initially unspecified and is only determined by the durations of the specified activities. Note: hammocks are usually used to collect time-dependent information, e.g. overheads. (A group of activities, milestones, or other hammocks aggregated together for analysis or reporting purposes. Sometimes used to describe an activity such as management support that has no duration of its own but derives one from the time difference between the two points to which it is connected.)
Hierarchy of networks: Range of networks at different levels of detail, from summary down to working levels, showing the relationships between those networks.
Histogram: A graphic display of planned and or actual resource usage over a period of time. It is in the form of a vertical bar chart, the height of each bar representing the quantity of resource usage in a given time unit. Bars may be single, multiple, or show stacked resources.
Hypercritical activities: Activities on the critical path with negative float.
Internal rate of return (IRR): Discount rate at which the net present value of a future cash flow is zero. Note: IRR is a special case of the ‘discounted cash flow’ procedures.
Key performance indicators: Measurable indicators that will be used to report progress, which are chosen to reflect the critical success factors of the project.
Lag: a) In a network diagram, the minimum necessary lapse of time between the finish of one activity and the finish of an overlapping activity
b) delay incurred between two specified activities.
Latest finish time: The latest possible time by which an activity has to finish within the logical activity and imposed constraints of the network, without affecting the total project duration.
Latest start time: Latest possible time by which an activity has to start within the logical and imposed constraints of the network, without affecting the total project duration.
Lead: In a network diagram, the minimum necessary lapse of time between the start of one activity and the start of an overlapping activity.
Letter of intent: A letter indicating an intent to sign a contract, usually so that work can commence prior to signing that contract.
Levelling: See resource levelling.
Management by project: A term used to describe normal management processes that are being project managed.
Matrix organisation: An organisational structure where the project manager and the functional managers share the responsibility of assigning priorities and for directing the work.
Milestone: A key event. An event selected for its importance in the project.
Note: milestones are commonly used in relation to progress. (A milestone is often chosen to represent the start of a new phase or the completion of a major deliverable. They are used to monitor progress at summary level. Milestones are activities of zero duration).
Mission statement: Brief summary, approximately one or two sentences, that sums up the background, purposes and benefits of the project.
Monte Carlo simulation: A technique used to estimate the likely range of outcomes from a complex process by simulating the process under randomly selected conditions a large number of times
Negative total float: Time by which the duration of an activity or path has to be reduced in order to permit a limiting imposed date to be achieved.
Net present value: Aggregate of future net cash flows discounted back to a common base date, usually the present.
Network analysis: Method used for calculating a project's critical path and activity times and floats. Note: see also critical path analysis, project network techniques.
Organisational breakdown structure (OBS): Hierarchical way in which the organisation may be divided into management levels and groups, for planning and control purposes
Original budget: The initial budget established at or near the time a contract was signed or a project authorised, based on the negotiated contract cost or management’s authorisation.
Overrun: Costs incurred in excess of the contract target costs on an incentive type contract or the estimated costs on a fixed-price contract. An overrun is that value of costs which are needed to complete a project, over that value originally authorised by management.
Performance specification: Statement of the totality of needs expressed by the benefits, features, characteristics, process conditions, boundaries and constraints that together define the expected performance of a deliverable. Note: a performance specification should provide for innovation and alternative solutions, by not defining or unduly constraining the technical attributes of the intended deliverable.
Positive float: Positive float is defined as the amount of time that an activity's start can be delayed without affecting the project completion date. An activity with positive float is not on the critical path and is called a non-critical activity. The difference between early and late dates (start or finish) determines the amount of float.
Post project appraisal: An evaluation that provides feedback in order to learn for the future.
Precedence network: A multiple dependency network. An activity-on-node network in which a sequence arrow represents one of four forms of precedence relationship, depending on the positioning of the head and the tail of the sequence arrow. The relationships are:
- Start of activity depends on finish of preceding activity, either immediately or after a lapse of time
- Finish of activity depends on finish of preceding activity, either immediately or after a lapse of time
- Start of activity depends on start of preceding activity, either immediately or after a lapse of time
- Finish of activity depends on start of preceding activity, either immediately or after a lapse of time.
Predecessor: An activity that must be completed (or be partially completed) before a specified activity can begin.
Predecessor activity: In the precedence diagramming method this is an activity which logically precedes the current activity.
Procurement planning: Determining what to procure and when.
Product breakdown structure: A hierarchy of deliverable products which are required to be produced on the project. It forms the base document from which the execution strategy and product-based work breakdown structure may be derived. It provides a guide for configuration control documentation.
Programme management: The effective management of several individual but related projects or functional activities in order to produce an overall system that works effectively.
Project definition: A report that defines a project, i.e. Why it is required? What will be done? How when and where it will be delivered? The organisation and resources required, the standards and procedures to be followed.
Project life cycle: All phases or stages between a project's conception and its termination. Note: the project life cycle may include the operation and disposal of project deliverables. This is usually known as an 'extended life cycle'.
Project life cycle cost: Cumulative cost of a project over its whole life cycle.
Project management: Planning, monitoring and control of all aspects of a project and the motivation of all those involved in it to achieve the project objectives on time and to the specified cost, quality and performance (Alternative definition – The controlled implementation of defined change).
Project management plan: A plan for carrying out a project, to meet specific objectives, that is prepared by or for the project manager.
Project manager: Individual or body with authority, accountability and responsibility for managing a project to achieve specific objectives.
Project risk management: A subset of project management that includes risk identification, risk quantification, risk response development, and risk response control in an effort to identify, analyse and respond to project risks.
- The individual or body for whom the project is undertaken, the primary risk taker
- The individual representing the sponsoring body and to whom the project manager reports
- A person or organisation providing funds for the project.
Project success/failure criteria: The criteria by which the success or failure of a project may be judged
Quality assurance plan: A plan that guarantees a quality approach and conformance to all customer requirements for all activities in a project.
Resource: Any variable capable of definition that is required for the completion of an activity and may constrain the project.
Note 1: A resource may be non-storable so that its availability has to be renewed for each time period (even if it was not utilised in previous time periods).
Note 2: A resource may be storable so that it remains available unless depleted by usage. Such a resource may also be replenished by activities producing credited and storable resource. (Resources can be people, equipment, facilities, funding or anything else needed to perform the work of a project)
Resource smoothing: Scheduling of activities, within the limits of their float, so that fluctuations in individual resource requirements are minimised.(In smoothing, as opposed to resource levelling, the project completion date may not be delayed)
Responsibility matrix: A document correlating the work required by a work breakdown structure element to the functional organisations responsible for accomplishing the assigned tasks.
Risk: Combination of the probability or frequency of occurrence of a defined threat or opportunity and the magnitude of the consequences of the occurrence.
Note: combination of the likelihood of occurrence of a specified event and its consequences (potential occurrences or threats that would jeopardise the success of a project. The probability of an undesirable outcome.)
Risk analysis: Systematic use of available information to determine how often specified events may occur and the magnitude of their likely consequences. (A technique designed to quantify the impact of uncertainty)
Risk assessment: The process of identifying potential risks, quantifying their likelihood of occurrence and assessing their likely impact on the project
Risk avoidance: Planning activities to avoid risks that have been identified.
Risk evaluation: Process used to determine risk management priorities.
Risk management: Systematic application of policies, procedures, methods and practices to the tasks of identifying, analysing, evaluating, treating and monitoring risk. (The process whereby decisions are made to accept known or assessed risks and /or the implementation of actions to reduce the consequences or probability of occurrence.)
Risk management plan: A document defining how project risk analysis and management is to be implemented in the context of a particular project.
Risk matrix: A matrix with risks located in rows and with impact and likelihood in columns.
Risk transfer: A contractual arrangement between two parties for delivery and acceptance of a product where the liability for the costs of a risk is transferred from one party to the other.
Schedule performance index (SPI): Ratio of work accomplished versus work planned, for a specified time period. The SPI is an efficiency rating for work accomplishment, comparing work accomplished to what should have been accomplished.
Scope: The scope is the sum of work content of a project.
Start-to-start lag: Start-to-start lag is the minimum amount of time that must pass between the start of one activity and the start of its successor(s). This may be expressed in terms of duration or percentage.
Total float: Time by which an activity may be delayed or extended without affecting the total project duration (or violating a target finish date).
Variation: A change in scope or timing of work which a supplier is obliged to do under a contract.
What-if analysis: The process of evaluating alternative strategies.
Work breakdown structure (WBS): Way in which a project may be divided by level into discrete groups for programming, cost planning and control purposes.
Note: see also ‘work package’ (The WBS is a tool for defining the hierarchical breakdown of work required to deliver the products of a project. Major categories are broken down into smaller components. These are sub-divided until the lowest required level of detail is established. The lowest units of the WBS become the activities in a project. The WBS defines the total work to be undertaken on the project and provides a structure for all project control systems.)
Zero float: Zero float is a condition where there is no excess time between activities. An activity with zero float is considered a critical activity.