Glossary - Terms and Definitions

This section contains definitions for a number of the terms used throughout this framework. This section is important because in different companies, there may be different terms that mean the same thing. The purpose of this section is to describe how words are used in PMOStep.

Activity. The smallest unit of work identified on the Project Schedule. (In other methodologies, this may be equivalent to a task.)

Applications. The term "applications" or "business applications" refers to the software systems that are used to automate processes within your company. Examples of applications include payroll, accounts payable, CRM software, time reporting, inventory management, etc. In some companies, these entities might be referred to as "systems." Applications can be internally developed, or they can be packages purchased from an outside vendor.

Best Practice. The winning strategies, approaches, and processes that produce superior performance in an organization.  A best practice is a by-product of a consistently successful end-result.

Critical Path. The sequence of activities that must be completed on schedule for the entire project to be completed on schedule. It is the longest duration path through the schedule. If an activity on the critical path is delayed by one day, the entire project will be delayed by one day (unless another activity on the critical path can be accelerated by one day). 

Client. The persons or groups that are the direct beneficiaries of a project or service. They are the people for whom the project is being undertaken. (Indirect beneficiaries are probably stakeholders.) If the persons or group are internal within your company, PMOStep refers to them as "clients." If they are external, PMOStep refers to them as "customers."

Customer. The persons or groups that are the direct beneficiaries of a project or service. If the persons or group are internal within your company, PMOStep refers to them as "clients." If they are external, PMOStep refers to them as "customers."

Deliverable. Any tangible outcome that is produced by the project. These can be documents, plans, computer systems, buildings, aircraft, etc. Internal deliverables are produced as a consequence of executing the project and are usually only needed by the project team. External deliverables are those that are created for clients and stakeholders.

Design. A clear specification for the structure, organization, appearance, etc. of a deliverable. 

Functional Manager. The functional manager is the person that you report to within your functional organization. Typically, this is the person that does your performance review. Your project manager may also be your functional manager, but he does not have to be. If your project manager is different from your functional manager, then your organization is probably utilizing matrix management.

Guideline. A recommended (but not required) approach, parameter, etc. for conducting an activity or task, utilizing a product, etc.

Issue. A major problem that will impede the progress of the project and cannot be resolved by the project manager and project team without outside help

Key Learning. Notable information discovered while performing an activity, utilizing a tool, creating a deliverable, etc.  When key learnings are shared, productivity can be gained by warning others of pitfalls or informing others of valuable short cuts, tips, etc.

Lifecycle. The process used to build and support the deliverables produced by the project. (Since a project has a start date and end date, the long-term support of a solution is usually performed after the project is completed.) For software development, the entire lifecycle might consist of planning, analysis, design, construct/test, implementation and support.

Milestone. A scheduling event that signifies the completion of a major deliverable or a set of related deliverables. A milestone, by definition, has a duration of zero and no effort. There is no work associated with a milestone. It is a flag in the schedule to signify that some other work has been completed. Usually a milestone is used as a project checkpoint to validate how the project is progressing and revalidate work. .

Objective. A concrete statement describing what the project is trying to achieve. The objective should be written at a low level so that it can be evaluated at the conclusion of the project to see whether it was achieved or not. A well-worded objective will be Specific, Measurable, Attainable/Achievable, Realistic and Timebound (SMART).

Policy. A guiding principle designed to influence decisions, actions, etc. Typically, a policy designates a required process or procedure within an organization.

Procedure. A clear specification for the sequence, timing, execution, etc. of a process. 

Program. A program is the umbrella structure established to manage a series of related projects. The program does not produce any project deliverables. The project teams produce them all. The purpose of the program is to provide overall direction and guidance, to make sure the related projects are communicating effectively, to provide a central point of contact and focus for the client and the project teams, and to determine how individual projects should be defined to ensure all the work gets completed successfully.

Program Manager. The person with the authority to manage a program. The Program Manager leads the overall planning and management of the program. All project managers within the program report to the Program Manager.

Project. A structure to complete a specific defined deliverable or set of deliverables. A project has a specific beginning date and end date, specific objectives and specific resources assigned to perform the work.

Project Manager. The person with the responsibility for managing a project. The project manager is responsible for managing the budget, the schedule and all the project management procedures (scope management, issues management, risk management, etc.).

Project Team. The project team consists of the full-time and part-time resources assigned to work on the deliverables of the project to help achieve the project objectives. They are responsible for

  • Understanding the work to be completed

  • Planning the assigned activities in more detail if needed

  • Completing assigned work within the budget, timeline and quality expectations

  • Informing the project manager of issues, scope changes, risk and quality concerns

  • Proactively communicating status and managing expectations

The project team can consist of human resources within one functional organization, or it can consist of members from many different functional organizations. A cross-functional team has members from multiple organizations.

Project Phase. A major logical grouping of work on a project. A phase also represents the completion of a major deliverable or set of related deliverables. On an IT development project, logical phases might be planning, analysis, design, construct (including testing) and implementation

Reference Material. Information of general interest.

Scope. The way that you describe the boundaries of the project. It defines what the project will deliver and what it will not deliver. For larger projects, it can include the organizations affected, the transactions affected, the data types included, etc.

Solutions. The deliverables produced by any project. It is assumed that the completion of a project will result in a solution to a business problem or a business need.

Sponsor (Executive Sponsor and Project Sponsor). The person who has ultimate authority over the project. The Executive Sponsor provides project funding, resolves issues and scope changes, approves major deliverables and provides high-level direction. He also champions the project within his organization. Depending on the project and the organizational level of the Executive Sponsor, he may delegate day-to-day tactical management to a Project Sponsor. If assigned, the Project Sponsor represents the Executive Sponsor on a day-to-day basis and makes most of the decisions requiring sponsor approval. If the decision is large enough, the Project Sponsor will take it to the Executive Sponsor.

Stakeholder. Specific people or groups who have a stake in the outcome of the project. Normally stakeholders are from within the company, and could include internal clients, management, employees, administrators, etc. A project may also have external stakeholders, including suppliers, investors, community groups and government organizations.

Standard. A required approach, parameter, etc. for conducting an activity or task, utilizing a product, etc.

Steering Committee. A Steering Committee is usually a group of high-level stakeholders who are responsible for providing guidance on overall strategic direction. They do not take the place of a sponsor, but they do help to spread the strategic input and buy-in to a larger portion of the organization. The Steering Committee is usually made up of organizational peers and is a combination of direct clients and indirect stakeholders.

Technique. A well-defined procedure used to accomplish a specific activity or task.  More than one technique may be available for accomplishing a specific activity or task.

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