Project Management Glossary (2)

Terms related with Project Planning:

The set of products and services to be delivered as a result of the project. Sometimes the scope also includes the degree to which the project impacts the performing and/or client organization.

Work Breakdown Structure (WBS)
A hierarchical task list created by decomposing the project based on the breakdown of the product into components and the breakdown of the project process into increasingly detailed tasks. The WBS is depicted as a tree diagram (or hierarchy chart) or as a list in outline form with detailed items subordinated to higher level items.

Work Package
A task at a low level of the Work Breakdown Structure at which project accounting is performed. Usually a week or so in duration and performed by an individual or small work group.

Bottom-up Estimating
Approximating the size (duration, and cost) and risk of a project (or phase) by breaking it down into activities, tasks and sub-tasks, estimating the effort, duration and cost of each and rolling them up to determine the full estimate. Determining duration through a bottom-up approach requires sequencing and resource leveling to be done as part of the scheduling process.

Top-down Estimating
Approximating the size (duration, and cost) and risk of a project (or phase) by looking at the project as a whole and comparing it to previously performed similar projects. The comparison may be made directly using "analogous estimating," through an algorithm as in "parametric estimating" or from the memory of estimating experts.

The length of time required or planned for the execution of a project activity. Measured in calendar time units - days, weeks, months.

Early Start
The earliest time a task can begin - the time at which all the tasks' predecessors have been completed and its resources are planned to be available.

Late Start
The time after which if a task starts, it will cause a delay in the project end date.

The amount of time available for a task to slip before it results in a delay of the project end date. It is the difference between the task's early and late start dates.

Sequencing Tasks
A part of the scheduling process in which the tasks are positioned serially or in parallel to one another based on dependencies between them. Sequencing results in a task network.

A task or milestone that is logically linked to one or more predecessor tasks.
A relationship in which a task or milestone relies on other tasks to be performed (completely or partially) before it can be performed. Also referred to as a logical relationship.

The amount of human resource time required to perform an activity. Measured in terms of person hours, person days, etc.

An assessment of the duration, effort and/or cost of an effort (e.g., task or project). Since estimates are not actuals, they should always be expressed with some indication of the degree of accuracy.

Network Diagram
A graphical tool for depicting the sequence and relationships between tasks in a project. PERT Diagram, Critical Path Diagram, Arrow Diagram, Precedence Diagram are all forms of network diagrams.

PERT -- Program Evaluation and Review Technique
A scheduling technique that makes use of dependency analysis, critical path, and slack to determine the duration of a project and the priorities of tasks based on slack. In PERT, task durations are computed as (Optimistic + 4xMost likely + Pessimistic estimates) / 6)

PERT Diagram
A type of network diagram deriving its name from the PERT technique. The term is often used as a synonym for network diagram.

Gantt Chart
A bar chart that depicts a schedule of activities and milestones. Generally activities (which may be projects, operational activities, project activities, tasks, etc.) are listed along the left side of the chart and the time line along the top or bottom. The activities are shown as horizontal bars of a length equivalent to the duration of the activity. Gantt Charts may be annotated with dependency relationships and other schedule related information.

The project time-line, identifying the dates (absolute or relative to a start date) upon which project tasks will be started and completed, resources will be required and upon which milestones will be reached.

Critical Path
The longest set of tasks in a project which determines the earliest completion of the project. The critical path may also be the longest set of tasks to a milestone.
The tasks on the critical path have zero (or negative) float.
The critical path may change during the course of a project as task durations change or new tasks are identified.

The estimated cost of a project or activity within a project. May be expressed in terms of money or resource units (effort).

Contigency Reserve
A planned amount of duration and/or budget to account for parts of the project that cannot be fully predicted. For example, it is relatively certain that there will be some rework, but the amount of rework and where it will occur in the project (or phase) are not known. These are sometimes called "known unknowns".
The purpose of the contingency reserve is to provide a more accurate sense of the expected completion date and cost of the project (or phase).

Resource Leveling
The process of adjusting the schedule to insure that resources (people, facilities and equipment) are not over scheduled and that there are minimal peaks and valleys in the staffing of the project.

Responsibility Assignment Matrix (RAM)
A tool used to relate each project activity in the WBS with a responsible organization unit or individual. Its purpose is to insure that every activity is assigned to one or more individuals (only one with primary responsibility) and that the individuals are aware of their responsibilities.

Matrix Organization
A business structure in which people are assigned to both a functional group (departments, disciplines, etc.) and to projects or processes which cut across the organization and require resources from multiple functional groups.

Master Schedule
A schedule of all the work (projects, operational activities, etc.) planned for an individual or organization unit. The purpose is to ensure that resources are not overburdened by inadvertently scheduling project or other work without regard to previously scheduled work. The master schedule is also used to determine the impact of slippage in one project on other projects assigned to the same resources.

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