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FThe world of project management is often renowned for its use of jargon and “management speak” and not in a good way. While we feel it is often given a bad rep, simple terms to explain complex processes just make sense, it also means that any budding PM or even an experienced one, still needs to be able to understand what all these project management terms mean to be able to get through an average week without any misunderstandings.

To help out, here are some of the most important terms you might not have fully got to grips with yet as well as links to our extensive list of blogs explaining them.

Key Project Management Terms

Action item: During meetings or on progress reviews, small tasks to update or improve something are often noted, which are called action items.

Bottom up approach: Here the project planning begins from the first work packages and tasks that are required, building from there towards the final deliverables that are required by the project’s goal.

Business case: For a project to get off the ground a project needs a solid business case which provides the reasons why it should get the backing of relevant stakeholders.

Change management: Creating and managing the change from one form of production or methodology to another. It involves guiding your team through the change process and addressing concerns or issues that arise.

Constraint: A limitation outside of which the project can’t go if it is to be successful, such as the resources or technology it has at its disposal.

Direct report: Someone who reports directly to you and of whom you have responsible oversight.

End user: The person whom the product or service will finally be used by. The end user provides a focus point for attention in the design and development phase, as well as important feedback post-delivery.

Goal setting: The process through which you and your team identify what the project is setting out to achieve. These goals will act as the guiding light for the project, even if actual deliverables and tasks change.

Initiation phase: The first phase of a project which is when the business issue or opportunity to be solved or exploited is identified. To deliver the solution, the project is created, and its scope, goals and deliverables are defined.

Kanban: A project management methodology, originally developed for Toyota, focusing on just-in-time production and removing waste and bottlenecks.

Lead time: How long it will take between the start of a project and its completion.

Milestone: A specific date in a project timeline that carries significance for the project or specific tasks. It is a very commonly used action to mark progress and success, often becoming a rallying point for the team.

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Onboarding: Introducing new team members to the project and their own expectations and responsibilities.

Progress report: A report covering the project’s progress since the previous update or status report that is delivered to stakeholders or clients.

Qualitative risk analysis: Identifying the probability of a risk occurring over the course of your project as well as the impact it will have if it does happen.

Remote team: A team where each member works outside a traditional workplace. This may include them working from home or simply being in a different geographic location. The team is defined by its sole use of electronic communication.

Scope: The objectives of a project, as well as its resources, planned deliverables and budget.

Top down approach: Defining the project goal at the start and then working downwards to identify the individual task strands and work packages necessary for it to be completed.

Use case: Especially in the fields of software and systems engineering, use case diagrams help PMs to visualize the scope of the project. It identifies and clarifies the individual and system requirements needed to complete a task.

Vendors: The suppliers you work with that provide physical goods or services necessary for your project.

Work item: Scheduled tasks to be completed on the project that are generally broken down into different work item types.


Didn’t find what you were looking for? Check out Project management & marketing: Terms you should know and PMI, KPI, SF: A Project Management Abbreviation Cheat Sheet.

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Preview: Gartner Market Guide for Adaptive Project Management & Reporting

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In the Gartner Market Guide for Adaptive Project Management & Reporting guide, Gartner, Inc. provides recommendations and evaluation criteria for executives and PMO leaders assessing Project and Portfolio Management (PPM) solutions. This guide outlines the adaptive project management and reporting process flow as well as a market review of current providers in the following categories:

  • - Existing pure-play PPM providers
  • - Collaborative work management (CWM) providers
  • - Enterprise agile planning (EAP) providers
  • - Technology Platform providers from other markets

The guide provides insight into how well a product or service fulfills certain functional capabilities – with a forward-looking market direction and analysis provided.

In the report, Gartner, Inc. mentions/states that “by 2024, 50% of all program and portfolio management (PPM) leaders will integrate complementary technologies to enable portfolio decision making and adaptive work management for digital business evolution.”

Clarizen offers a complete solution that connects work across the enterprise, turning ideas into strategies, plans, and action. With Clarizen, organizations can work the way they want to work and have real time visibility across all workstreams in their portfolio. This keeps teams focused on the things that matter, provides the real-time information needed to make more accurate and timely decisions, and delivers results faster to meet and even exceed company goals and customers’ expectations.

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