Activity – For the purposes of the TenStep Project Management Process, an activity is the smallest unit of work identified on the project workplan. (In other methodologies, an activity may be broken down even further into tasks.)

Assumption – There may be external circumstances or events that must occur for the project to be successful. If you believe such an event is likely to happen, then it would be an assumption (contrast with the definition of a risk). If an event is within the control of the project team, such as having testing complete by a certain date, it is not an assumption. It is part of the approach. If an event has a 100% chance of occurring, it not an assumption, since there is not ‘likelihood’ or risk involved. It is just a fact. Examples of assumptions might be that ‘budgets and resources will be available when needed …’ or ‘the new software release will be available for use by the time the Construct Phase begins’. This is a simple definition for an assumption. For a more precise definition and further information see Assumptions and Risks .

Client – The person or group that is the direct beneficiary 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, the TenStep process refers to them as “clients”. If they are external, the TenStep process refers to them as “customers”.

Constraints – Constraints are limitations that are outside the control of the project team and need to be managed around. They are not necessarily problems and they are not necessarily even risks. However, the project manager should be aware of constraints because they refer to limitations that the project must execute within. Date constraints, for instance, imply that certain events (perhaps the end of the project) must occur by certain dates. Resources are almost always a constraint since they are not available in an unlimited supply. For instance, once your project budget is set, it becomes a constraint that the project must live within.

Critical Path – This is 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 workplan. 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). 

Critical Success Factor – A critical success factor is any event that must occur for the project to meet its goals and objectives.

Customer – The person or group that is the direct beneficiary of a project or service. The people for whom the project is being undertaken (indirect beneficiaries are probably stakeholders). If the persons or group are internal within your company, the TenStep process refers to them as “clients”. If they are external, the TenStep process refers to them as “customers”.

Deliverable – A deliverable is 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.

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

Gantt chart – A gantt chart is a bar chart that depicts activities as blocks over time. The beginning and end of the block correspond to the beginning and end-date of the activity.

Issue – An issue is 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

Life cycle – This term refers to 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 milestone is a scheduling event that signifies the completion of a major deliverable or a set of related deliverables. A milestone, by definition, has duration of zero and no effort. There is no work associated with a milestone. It is a flag in the workplan to signify that some other work has completed. Usually a milestone is used as a project checkpoint to validate how the project is progressing and revalidate the remaining work. They are also used as high-level snapshots for management to validate the progress of the project. In many cases there is a decision that needs to be made at a milestone. Milestones are not usually based on the calendar. They are usually based on the completion of one or more deliverables.

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 a project to see whether it was achieved or not. A well-worded objective will be Specific, Measurable, Attainable/Achievable,Realistic and Timebound (SMART). See 1.2.1 Define the Work / Goals and Objectives for more information.

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, make sure the related projects are communicating effectively, provide a central point of contact and focus for the client and the project teams and determine how individual projects should be defined to ensure all the work gets completed successfully.

Program Manager – The person with authority to manage a program. (Note that this is a role. The program manager may also be responsible for one or more of the projects within the program. They would be project manager on those projects as well as overall program manager.) 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 begin date and end-date, specific objectives and specific resources assigned to perform the work. A project manager has overall responsibility and authority over a project. When the objectives are met, the project is considered complete. See 1.0.1 What is a Project? for more information.

Project Charter – Before you start a project it is important to know the overall objectives of the project, the scope, the deliverables, risks, assumptions, project organization chart, etc. The Project Charter is the document that holds this relevant information. The project manager is responsible for creating the Project Charter. The document should be approved by the sponsor to signify that the project manager and the sponsor are in agreement on these important aspects of the project.

Project Manager – The person with authority to manage a project. This includes leading the planning and the development of all project deliverables. The project manager is responsible for managing the budget and workplan and all Project Management Procedures (scope management, issues management, risk management, etc.). See 1.0.2 Role of a Project Manager.

Project Phase – A phase is 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 IS development project logical phases might be planning, analysis, design, construct (including testing) and implementation

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

  • Understanding the work to be completed
  • Planning out 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. Having a cross-functional team is usually a sign of your organization utilizing matrix management.

Requirements – Requirements are descriptions of how a product or service should act, appear or perform. Requirements generally refer to the features and functions of the deliverables you are building on your project. Requirements are considered to be a part of project scope. High-level scope is defined in your Project Charter. The requirements form the detailed scope. After your requirements are approved, they can be changed through the scope change management process.

Risk – There may be external circumstances or events that must not occur for the project to be successful.  If you believe such an event is likely to happen, then it would be a risk. (Contrast with the definition of an assumption.) Identifying something as a risk increases its visibility, and allows a proactive Risk Management Plan to be put into place. This is a simple definition of a project risk. A more precise definition is available in step 7.0 Manage Risks.

Schedule – The project schedule tells you “how” you will complete the project. The schedule describes the activities required, the sequence of the work, who is assigned to the work, an estimate of how much effort is required, when the work is due, and other information of interest to the project manager. The schedule allows the project manager to identify the work required to complete the project and also allows the project manager to monitor the work to determine if the project is on schedule.

Scope – Scope is 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. See 5.0.1 Defining Scope for more information.

Service Level Agreement (SLA) – An SLA is an agreement concerning a measurable level of service between the service provider and the service receiver.

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 or she also champions the project within their organization. Depending on the project, and the organizational level of the Executive Sponsor, he or she 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 organization.

Standard – A standard is a required approach for conducting an activity or task, utilizing a product, etc. Many times a standard is a best practice that must be followed to have a better chance of overall success.

Steering Committee – A Steering Committee is usually a group of high-level stakeholders that are responsible for providing guidance on overall strategic direction. They do not take the place of a Sponsor, but 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.

Template – Templates are pre-existing forms that include standard text and spaces to fill-in-the-blanks with standard information. Templates saves time since each person does not have to create the document format on their own. Templates also allow information to be presented in standardized and recognizable formats for the reader.