Glossary

Alignment process
developing a common understanding among the key stakeholders of the purpose and goals of the project and the means and methods of accomplishing those goals.
Asynchronous communications
communications that take place when the parties are not present at the same time. Examples are e-mail and blogs.
Attributes
the characteristics and identifiers of an activity.
Bias
the making of decisions based on a prejudged perspective.
Bins
subdivisions of measured values.
Blog
an online journal that can be private, shared by invitation, or made available to the world.
Cash flow
the flow of money circulation of the project’s money. Money coming in is positive cash flow, and money going out is negative.
Central limit theorem
a theorem that states that random factors tend to offset each other, with the most common results residing near the middle of the range.
Change management process
a process that incorporates a change into the project planning and execution processes.
Chartering organization
the organization that determines the need for the project and develops a justification for the project.
Closeout phase
includes transferring staff, archiving documents, closing offices, completing punch list tasks, and turning over the results of the project to the client. PMI calls this phase “closing of the project.”
Communication matrix
a table that shows the names of people as column or row headings and the types of documents as row or column headings. In the cells where the name and document type intersect, a symbol indicates the person’s responsibility or access with regard to that type of document.
Complex adaptive systems
consist of a large number of parts or activities that interact with each other in numerous and various ways. A complex adaptive system is adaptive if the activities adjust or react to the events of the environment. Successful adaptive systems adjust in a way that facilitates or allows the system or project to achieve its purpose.
Complex systems
systems with many different parts that interact with each other in different and often unpredictable ways. They adapt to changes in their external and internal environments.
Conceptual estimate
also known as “ballpark estimate”, it is developed with the least amount of knowledge. The major input into the conceptual estimate is expert knowledge or past experience.
Control limits
the upper and lower extremes of allowable variation.
Crashing the schedule
describes the techniques used to shorten the project schedule.
Critical path
the longest path to the completion of the project.
Culture
reflects the community’s assumptions, norms, values, and artifacts.
Current schedule
a schedule update that is distributed regularly to provide project stakeholders with an assessment of the progress of the project against the master schedule. The current schedule provides new start and end dates for all activities and the project.
Darnall-Preston Complexity Index (DPCI)
assesses project attributes, enabling better-informed decisions in creating the project profile.
Dependency
the relationship between a predecessor activity and a successor.
Detailed estimate
after a project design is more complete, a project detailed estimate can be developed. When the project team knows the number of rooms, the type of materials, and the building location of a home, the project team can provide a detailed estimate. A detailed estimate is not a bid.
Deterministic system
a system that will produce the same results if you start with the same conditions. The outcome can be reliably predicted if you know the starting conditions.
Duration
how long the project will take to accomplish from beginning to end.
Early start (ES) dates
the earliest date an activity within a project can begin.
Emotional intelligence
the ability to sense, understand, and effectively apply emotions.
Estimate
an educated guess based on knowledge, experience, and inference.
Execution phase
includes the major activities needed to accomplish the work of the project. PMI calls this phase “carrying out the work.”
Extensible markup language (XML)
a set of rules that allows for content marked by tags to be read. The data can be imported into a spreadsheet or database for analysis.
External attributes
the relative size of the project, duration of the project, and the available resources.
Finish-finish
when two or more project activities start at different times but must finish at the same time.
Finish-start relationship
the first activity must finish before the next one can start.
Float (slack)
the amount of time an activity, network path, or project can be delayed from the early start without changing the completion date of the project.
Free float
activities that are not on the critical path may have a difference between their early start date and their late start date. Free float activities can be delayed without affecting the project completion date.
Frequency distribution
shows how many measurements fall into each subdivision of measured values (bins).
Functional managers
and team focus on the technology of the project. On a training project, the functional manager would include the professional trainers; on an information technology project, the software development managers would be functional managers.
Gantt chart
a type of bar chart used to illustrate activity relationships in a project. The Gantt chart was developed by Henry Gantt and used on major projects, including building the Hoover Dam and the U.S. interstate highway system.2 The Gantt chart is a time-scaled graphic that represents each activity with a bar that reflects the duration, start, and finish time.
Goal
an end toward which effort is directed.
Initiation phase
includes activities such as holding alignment and kickoff meetings, identifying the project team, developing the resources needed to develop the project plan, and identifying and acquiring the project management infrastructure. PMI calls this phase the “starting the project.”
Intelligent numbering
a numbering system that has meaning so that a member of the project team knows something about the activity by the number of the activity.
Interest
a percentage of the amount of the loan that has not been repaid.
Internal attributes
the clarity of a project’s scope, the complexity of the organization, and the agreement among stakeholders.
Internal rate of return (IRR)
the IRR is like an internal interest rate that can be used to compare the profitability of competing projects. To calculate an IRR, the company considers the cash flow each year for the expected life of the product of the project. It assumes that some of the annual cash flows will be negative and that they can vary from year to year due to other factors.
Known risks
events that have been identified and analyzed for which advanced planning is possible.
Lag time
when a certain amount of time must go by before a successor activity can begin.
Lead time
when the successor activity can overlap the end of its predecessor activity and begin before the predecessor is finished.
Lessons learned meeting
a review meeting conducted to capture lessons that can be learned from the project, and how those lessons can be transferred and applied to future projects.
Milestones
significant events in your project which consume no resources and have no duration.
Milestone schedule
establishes key dates throughout the life of a project that must be met for the project to finish on time.
Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI)
one of most widely used tools for exploring personal preference, with more than two million people taking the MBTI each year.
Natural dependency
when the relationship between a predecessor activity and a successor activity can be inferred logically.
Negative float
occurs when the calculated completion date of the last activity is later than the targeted completion date established at the beginning of the project.
Nonlinear system (chaotic system)
can produce wildly different results even if the starting conditions are almost exactly the same.
Normal distribution
when the effects that are causing the differences are random and tend to offset each other, the results resemble the shape of a bell with edges that flare out.
Objective
must have a measurable outcome.
Operations manager
a manager whose primary focus is to efficiently and effectively achieve the purpose of the organization.
Organizational risks
risks associated with the business purpose of the project.
Parameters
factors that define the project and determine its behavior, what work is done within the boundaries of the project, and the work that is outside the project boundaries.
Planning phase
includes developing detailed staffing, procurement, and project controls plans. PMI calls this phase “organizing and preparing.”
Precedence diagram method (PDM)
a technique for graphically displaying the logic of the schedule by placing the activities in boxes with arrows between them to show the precedence-successor relationships. This type of diagram is also called a project network diagram.
Process managers
managers who have expertise in estimating, cost tracking, planning, and scheduling.
Project execution plan
defines how the work of the project will be accomplished.
Project logic
the development of the activity sequence or determining the order in which the activities will be completed, and involves identifying the predecessors—activities that come before—and successors—the activities that come after.
Project logic diagram
represents the logical sequence of the activities needed to complete the project.
Project management
“the application of knowledge, skills, tools, and techniques to project activities to meet the project requirements.”1
Project manager
a manager whose primary focus is on the goals of the project.
Project management offices (PMOs)
facilitate development of organizational knowledge, skills, and tools to internally charter and manage projects.
Project network diagram
a technique for graphically displaying the logic of the schedule by placing the activities in boxes with arrows between them to show the precedence-successor relationships. This type of diagram is also called a precedence diagram method (PDM).
Project profiling
the process of extracting a characterization from the known attributes of a project.
Project risk
an uncertain event or condition that, if it occurs, has an effect on at least one project objective.3
Project scope
defines what is inside the project and what is outside.
Project scope document
defines the work required to complete the project successfully.
Punch list
a list of all the items found by the client/or team/manager.
Purpose statement
provides a project with an anchor or organizational focus. Sometimes called an anchoring statement, these statements can become a basis for testing key decisions. A purpose statement can be a powerful tool for focusing the project on actions and decisions that can have a positive impact on project success. A purpose statement is sometimes also called a charter, vision, or mission.
Quality
“the degree to which a set of inherent characteristics fulfill requirements.”2
Relationship dependence
a key aspect of complex adaptive systems, characterized by the dependence of the project on the activities, the interdependence of the activities, and the specialization of the activities.
Resources
time, materials, facilities, and equipment that are needed to accomplish the project.
Resource calendar
indicates which days project team members are available and which are days off.
Resource leveling
reallocating people and equipment to remove periods of overuse or underuse.
Risk
the possibility of loss or injury.1
Risk assessment
includes both the identification of potential risk and the evaluation of the potential impact of the risk.
Risk avoidance
usually involves developing an alternative strategy that has a higher probability of success but usually at a higher cost associated with accomplishing a project task.
Risk breakdown structure (RBS)
organizes the risks that have been identified into categories using a table with increasing levels of detail to the right.
Risk events
occurrences that have a negative impact on the project.
Risk management
focuses on identifying and assessing the risks to the project and managing those risks to minimize the impact on the project. Risk management is not about eliminating risk but about identifying, assessing, and managing risk.
Risk mitigation plan
a plan that is designed to eliminate or minimize the impact of the risk events.
Risk reduction
a strategy to reduce the risk on a project.
Risk sharing
involves partnering with others to share responsibility for the risk activities.
Risk transfer
a risk reduction method that shifts the risk from the project to another party.
Rough order of magnitude (ROM)
an estimate taking into account information needed for development.
Samples
randomly selected subsets from the total population.
Scope change log
a record that should be kept to track changes.
Scope creep
the incremental expansion in the project scope.
Scope of work (SOW)
typically a written document that defines what work will be accomplished by the end of the project—the deliverables of the project.
Simple payback
if the purpose of the project is to improve cash flow—make it more positive or less negative—the improved positive cash flow each year is applied to the original cost (negative cash flow) of the project to determine how many years it would take to pay back the original cost.
Slack (float)
If the critical path takes less time than is allowed by the client to complete the project, the project has a positive total float or project slack. If the client’s project completion date precedes the calculated critical path end date, the project has negative float.
Stakeholders
those who have a share or interest in the organization.
Start-start relationship
when two or more project activities occur at the same time or concurrently.
Statistics
the mathematical interpretation of numerical data.
Synchronous communications
communications that take place when all the parties are present at the same time. Examples are telephone calls and video conferencing.
Tags
characters inserted on either side of a particular section or a form or document that assign a data label.
Technology of a project
refers to the product of the project and not the technology used to manage the project.
Total float
is the difference between the finish date of the last activity on the critical path and the project completion date.
Version control
labeling each revision, which enables the team to understand the latest activity and status of the document (or the activity behind the document).
Virtual teams
teams that use electronic methods of communicating without face-to-face meetings.
Work breakdown structure (WBS)
a list of activities, including estimates of their durations, their relationships with others, and the resources assigned to them.

[1] Project Management Institute, Inc., A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK Guide), 4th ed. (Newtown Square, PA: Project Management Institute, Inc., 2008), 6.
[2] International Organization for Standardization, Quality Management Systems—Fundamentals and Vocabulary (Geneva: ISO Press, 2005), in Project Management Institute, Inc., A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK Guide), 4th ed. (Newtown Square, PA: Project Management Institute, Inc., 2008), 190.
[3] Project Management Institute, Inc., A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK Guide), 4th ed. (Newtown Square, PA: Project Management Institute, Inc., 2008), 273.