Glossary of terms

Acceptance criteria: criteria which must be met before project deliverables are accepted.

Acceptance test: see User acceptance test.

Activity diagram: describes the behavior of a system, product or component by illustrating the sequence of events through workflow.

Affinity chart/diagram: sorts and categorizes ideas into themes or categories.

Analysis: process of studying the nature or characteristics of something by determining its features and relationships.

Application area: Application areas are categorized by common components such as product (eg., PeopleSoft, Oracle), or type of customer (eg., Academic department, academic support unit, etc.).

Assumptions: factors that are considered to be true, real or certain without proof or demonstration.

Backwards pass: calculation of late finish dates and late start dates for the uncompleted activities/tasks within a project schedule. These dates are determined by working backwards from the project’s end date.

Baseline: an approved plan for a project, plus or minus approved changes. The baseline is always compared to the actual performance of the project. The baseline can be a current baseline, or the original.

Budget: the approved, estimated costs associated with the work associated with the project.

Buffer: a provision added to the project management plan to mitigate costs and/or schedule risk.

Business process: collection of related activities/tasks that produce a service or product.

Business requirement: high level, measurable statement of goals, objectives or needs of the organization.

Change control: identifying, documenting, approving/rejecting and controlling changes to the project baselines.

Change request: requests to modify the project scope, governance, processes, plans, procedures, costs, schedules or work item.

Class diagram: describes the structure of a system, product or component.

Collect requirements: process of defining and documenting stakeholders’ needs and business rules.

Communication Management Plan: describes communications and expectations for the project: how information will be communicated, what format it will be presented in, how often it will be communicated, and who is responsible for the communication. This is contained within the Project Management Plan and may require a more extensive Implementation Strategy document.

Constraint: a restriction or limitation to a course of action that may be internal or external to the project that could affect the performance.

Context diagram: illustrates inputs and outputs to a system, product or component.

Contingency: see Buffer.

Contingency plan: a planned course of action to be activated if a plan fails or an existing situation changes.

Contract: mutually binding agreement between a seller to provide a product/service and a buyer who will pay for it.

Cost Management Plan: establishes the activities and criteria for planning, structuring, and controlling the projects costs. This is contained within the Project Management Plan.

Crashing: a technique to compress the project schedule duration by determining the least costly alternative. Typical approaches for crashing a schedule include reducing schedule activities and increasing resource assignments.

Criteria: standards, rules or tests used to base a judgment or decision upon, or to evaluate a product against.

Critical activity: an activity/task on a critical path of a project schedule.

Critical path: generally the sequence of scheduled activities/tasks that determines the maximum duration of the project (ie., the longest path through the project).

Critical path methodology: a technique to determine scheduling flexibility (float) and to determine minimum project duration. Early start and finish dates are calculated with a forward pass using the project start date. Late start and finish dates are calculated with a backwards pass, starting with a project completion date.

Data dictionary: a central repository of metadata for a system, product or component.

Data flow diagram: an illustration of the flow of data through a system, product or component.

Data model: a model to illustrate the data (and associated data structure) that is required and created by business processes.

Define activities/tasks: process of identifying actions required to produce project deliverables. These activities/tasks are then put into the project schedule.

Deliverable: a unique product, result or capability to perform a service within a process, phase or project.

Deployment: see Implementation.

Design: a plan for the construction of a system or product or component to meet defined goals and requirements within identified constraints.

Development: application of technical knowledge to create a system or product or component to meet defined goals and requirements with identified constraints (ie., application of technical knowledge to implement the design).

Early finish date: the earliest possible date an activity/task on the project schedule can finish. Note that this date can change as the project progresses.

Early start date: the earliest possible date an activity/task on the project can start. Note that this date can change as the project progresses.

Effort: number of work periods required to complete a scheduled activity/task.

Enterprise Architecture (EA): the digital representation of business and information technology across the entire organization. An EA practice can contribute to strategy and planning activities, provide insights, identify improvements and support decision making through the production of architectural artifacts, such as models, charts, views, and sometimes stored and presented in a centralized EA repository.

Entity Relationship Diagram (ERD): a representation of the data (or a data model) within a system, product or component.

Estimate: quantitative assessment of likely amount or outcome applied to project costs, resources, effort and duration.

Fast tracking: project schedule compression technique that overlaps phases that would normally be done in sequence.

Finish date: date associated with activity/task completion.

Finish-to-finish: relationship where the completion of work of activity/task B can’t finish until the completion of work of activity/task A.

Finish-to-Start: relationship where initiation of work of activity/task B depends on completion of work of activity/task A.

Fishbone diagram: diagram that shows the factors/causes of an effect/event.

Fit/gap: analysis to determine whether present system, product or component fits the documented requirements and recording where it doesn’t (gaps).

Forward pass: calculation of early start and early finish dates for uncompleted portion of activities/tasks in a project schedule.

Free float: amount of time an activity/task can be delayed without affecting the early start date of subsequent activities/tasks.

Functional requirement: behavior and information the solution will manage. This defines the function of the system, product or component which includes inputs, behavior, and outputs.

Gated Systems Development Life Cycle (SDLC):  see Waterfall Systems Development Life Cycle.   

Human Resource Plan: describes projects roles & responsibilities, associated skills and reporting relationships. This is contained within the Project Management Plan.

Initiative: is anything that is not a project, program or portfolio and has an adequate scope of work, people resources and/or budget. An initiative is typically operational work and warrants visibility in a portfolio of work. Some examples include a systems update that is non-unique in nature (e.g. annual tax update), a network upgrade that has significant budget or staff involvement.

Implementation: all the processes necessary to get the new system or product or component operating properly in its new environment.

Incremental Systems Development Life Cycle (SDLC): a SDLC model that combines the waterfall with the iterative models. The approach tackles individual project pieces (usually by order of priority) and implements them by managing these pieces with smaller waterfalls or a waterfall/prototyping combination.

Integration test: combining individual system components (that have passed unit testing) together to test them as a group.

Iterative Systems Development Life Cycle (SDLC): a SDLC model that incorporates the Waterfall approach through a series of prototypes or mock-ups.

Lag: a scheduled delay for a successor activity/task.

Late finish date: latest possible point in time in a schedule that an activity/task may complete. These are determined during the backward pass calculation.

Late start date: latest possible point in time in a schedule that an activity/task may begin. These are determined during the backward pass calculation.

Lessons learned: the learning gained during the project.

Maintenance: the process of keeping the new system, product or component working and meeting current and future requirements.

Metadata: information about the data contained within a system, product or component. This information may describe data structure, meaning, relationships, origin, usage, and format.

Milestone: significant event in the project.

Non-functional requirement: environmental conditions the solution must remain effective, or qualities the system must have. This is sometimes referred to as a Quality requirement.

Objective: a strategic position to direct work towards, or a purpose to achieve.

Opportunity: a favourable situation/possibility, or a risk that could have a positive impact on the project.

Portfolio: a collection of projects or programs and other work that are grouped together to facilitate effective management of that work to meet strategic business objectives. The projects or programs of the portfolio may not necessarily be interdependent or directly related. (PMI)

Process flow diagram: an illustration of the steps and their order of a particular process.

Process model: processes of the same nature categorized into a model to represent how the business operates.

Procurement Management Plan: describes how procurement processes will be managed. This is contained within the Project Management Plan.

Product: a quantifiable material or good or information system that is produced as an end item or as a component of an end item.

Product life cycle: sequential product phases that are followed to deliver the product, according to the needs of the organization.

Product scope: features and functions to characterize a product, service or result.

Program: group of related projects managed in a coordinated way. (PMI)

Project: temporary endeavour undertaken to create a unique product, service, or result. (PMI) A project meets the following FUSA criteria: Finite, Unique, Specific and Adequate.

Project charter: document that formally authorizes the existence of a project. It provides the authority to the project manager to apply resources to activities/tasks.

Project initiation: launching a process that can result in the authorization of a new project.

Project life cycle: sequential project phases that are followed to execute a project, according to the needs of the organization.

Project Management Plan: document that defines how the project will be executed, monitored and controlled (project governance).

Project Management process groups: grouping of project management inputs, tools, techniques and outputs. These are not project phases.

Project phase: collection of related project activities that typically result in a deliverable. It is a component of a project life cycle.

Project schedule: planned dates for meeting project activities/tasks and milestones.

Quality: degree to which characteristics meet requirements.

Quality Assurance: activities implemented to ensure quality (non-functional) requirements for a product or service are fulfilled.

Quality control: process to ensure level of quality in a system, product or component.

Quality Management Plan: describes how organization’s quality policy will be implemented for the project.  This is contained within the Project Management Plan.

Regulation: requirements imposed by government legislation.

Request for Information (RFI): procurement document soliciting information related to a product or service.

Request for Proposal (RFP): procurement document soliciting proposals from prospective vendors interested in selling products or services.

Request for Quotation (RFQ): procurement document soliciting price quotations from prospective vendors interested in selling products or services.

Requirement: condition/capability that must be met by the system, product, service or result. Requirements are quantified needs, wants and expectations of sponsor, customer and stakeholders.

Resource: skilled human resource, equipment, service, supply, commodity, material, budget, or fund.

Resource Leveling: a technique used to schedule start and finish dates based upon resource constraints.

Risk: uncertain event that would have a positive or negative effect on the project if it should occur.

Risk acceptance: a risk response indicating that no changes will be made to the project management plan to deal with a risk.

Risk avoidance: a risk response that changes the project management plan to either eliminate or reduce the impact of a risk.

Risk Management Plan: describes how project risks will be identified and managed on the project. This is contained within the Project Management Plan, and usually includes a reference to a Risk Register within the plan or as a separate document.

Risk register: contains risk identification, risk analysis (quantitative and qualitative) and risk response planning.

Risk tolerance: the degree of risk that an organization can withstand.

Risk transference: a risk response that shifts the impact and response ownership of the risk to a third party.

Role: defined function of a project team resource.

Schedule Management Plan: establishes activities, criteria and responsibility for managing the project schedule. This is contained within the Project Management Plan.

Scope: sum of products, services and results to be provided as a project.

Scope change: a change to the project scope which usually requires a modification to the project cost and/or schedule.

Scope creep: additional features and/or functionality that are added to the scope after the project has started, without approval and consideration to how this will affect the project.

Scope Management Plan: describes how the scope will be defined, verified and managed.  It is contained within the Project Management Plan.

Secondary risk: a risk that arises due to the implementation of a risk response.

Sign off: to approve or ratify (in writing) the completion of a piece of project work according to all current goals and requirements.

Solution requirement: describes the characteristics of a solution.  Solution requirements encompass both Functional and Non-functional requirements.

Specification: complete, precise document describing characteristics of a system, product, result or service.

Spiral Systems Development Life Cycle (SDLC): see Iterative Systems Development Life Cycle.

Sponsor: person or group providing financial resource for the project.

Staffing Management Plan: describes management of project’s human resources. This is contained within the Project Management Plan.

Stakeholder: person or organization directly or indirectly involved in the project. The stakeholder may be positively or negatively affected by the project and may or may not influence the project.

Stakeholder requirement: statement of needs of a stakeholder or class of stakeholders.

Start-to-finish: completion of activity/task B is dependent upon initiation of activity/task A.

Start-to-start: initiation of activity/task B dependent upon initiation of activity/task A.

State transition diagram: a diagram depicting the behavior of a system product or component by showing the states an object can have, the events causing the object to change state, the conditions that must be fulfilled and the activities undertaken during the life of an object .

Statement of Work (SOW): detailed description of the products, services or results to be supplied.

Subject Matter Expert (SME): a person who is an expert in a specific area or topic.

Systems Development Life Cycle (SDLC): process of creating or alternating an information system and the associated models and methodologies adopted by the organization to develop information systems.

Test: a procedure for critical evaluation to ensure the delivered system or product or component meets specified goals and requirements.

Test case/script: a documented set of conditions and variables that will be used by a tester to ensure that a product or system or component is working correctly according to goals and requirements.

Triggers: indications or warning signs that a risk has occurred, or is about to.

Unit test: individual units/areas (smallest testable parts of an application) of development are tested to ensure they meet documented goals and requirements.

Use case: list of steps illustrating/documenting interactions between roles and a system to achieve a final goal.

User Acceptance Test (UAT): a test conducted by the customer of their new business process to ensure the delivered system, product or component meets final requirements/specifications .

Waterfall Systems Development Life Cycle (SDLC): a SDLC model that follows a series of sequential steps/phases where sign off of the predecessor step/phase is required before the subsequent step/phase begins.  

Work Breakdown Structure (WBS): decomposition of the work  to be executed by the project into a hierarchical  structure to organize and define the project scope.

Workaround: an unplanned response to a risk that has occurred.