Project Management Dictionary of Terms

This glossary covers all common project management terminology.
A - Acceptance Criteria to Authority | B - Backward Pass to Business Process Manager (BPM) | C - Change to Customer | D - Decision Tree Analysis to Duration | E - Early Finish Date to Event | F - Failure Mode and Effect Analysis to Functional organization | G - Gantt Chart to guidelines | H - Hammock task to Hyperlink | I - i-j notation to ITIL | J - Job Description to Just-In-Time | K - Kaizen to Knowledge | L - Labor, Equipment, Material to Logical Relationship | M - Manage Project Team to Monte Carlo Analysis | N - Near-Critical Activity to Node | O - Operations to Output | P - parametric to Projectized Organization | Q - Qualitative Risk Analysis to Quantitative Risk Analysis | R - Records Management to Root Cause Analysis | S - Saved Search to System | T - Target Completion Date to Triple Constraint | U - Uncontrollable Risks to User Group | V - Validation to Voice of the Customer | W to Z - War Room to Zero Float

C - Change to Customer

Change Control

(1) Identifying, documenting, approving, or rejecting, and controlling changes to the project baselines.

(2) The process of accepting or rejecting changes to the project's baselines. Lack of change control is a common cause of scope creep.

Change Control Board (CCB)

A formally constituted group of stakeholders responsible for reviewing, evaluating, approving, delaying, or rejecting changes to the project, with all decisions and recommendation being recorded.

Change Control System

A collection of formal, documented procedures that define how project deliverables and documentation will be controlled, changed, and approved. In most application areas, the change control system is a subset of the configuration management system.

Change Management

The practice of administering changes with the help of tested methods and techniques in order to avoid new errors and minimize the impact of changes.

Change Order

Change Order Proposal

A change order proposal is the written document before it has been approved and effected by the contractor and the owner. A change order proposal can be issued by either the contractor or the owner. The change order proposal becomes a change order only after it has been approved and effected by the contractor and owner.

Often one form will be used to propose, review and approve a change. Usually called a Change order or Change request.

Download a Change Request Template.



Items listed together for convenience of comparison, or to ensure the actions associated with them are managed appropriately and not forgotten. An example is a list of items to be inspected that is created during quality planning and applied during quality control.


A request, demand, or assertion of rights by a seller against a buyer, of vice versa, for consideration, compensation, or payment under the terms of a legally binding contract, such as for a disputed change.


The process of finalizing all activities across all of the project process groups to formally close the project or phase.


An organizational placement strategy where the project team members are physically located close to one another in order to improve communication, working relationships, and productivity.

Commercial Off-the-Shelf (COTS)

Commercial software purchased to provide specific functionality with little to no customization added.


Official consignment or pledge to do something

Communication Management Plan

The document that describes: the communications needs and expectations for the project; how and in what format information will be communicated; when and where each communication will be made; and who is responsible for providing each type of communication. A communication management plan can be formal or informal, highly detailed or broadly framed, based on the requirements of the project stakeholders. The communication management plan is contained in, or is a subsidiary plan of, the Project Management Plan.

Download a Communication Management Plan Template.


A constituent part, an element of a larger whole.

Configuration Management

Configuration management provides management, oversight and control of design information, safety information, and records of modifications (both temporary and permanent) that might impact the ability of items relied upon.

Configuration Management System

A subsystem of the overall project management system. It is a collection of formal documented procedures used to apply technical and administrative direction and surveillance to: identify and document the functional and physical characteristics of a product, result, service, or component; control any changes to such characteristics; record and report each change and its implementation status; and support the audit of the products, results, or components to verify conformance to requirements. It includes the documentation, tracking systems, and defined approval levels necessary for authorizing and controlling changes. In most application areas, the configuration management includes the change control system.


The state, quality, or sense of being restricted to a given course of action on inaction. An applicable restriction or limitation, either internal or external, to the project that will affect the performance of the project or a process. For example, a schedule constraint is any limitation or restraint placed on the project schedule that affects when a schedule activity can be scheduled, and is usually in the form of fixed imposed dates.

A cost constraint is any limitation or restraint placed on the project budget, such as funds available over time.

A project resource constraint is any limitation or restraint placed on resource usage, such as what resource skills or disciplines are available, and the amount of a given resource available during a specified time frame.

Constraints are documented in the Project Brief or Project Charter.


The optimizing of cost, time, and quality factors with the material, equipment, construction means, methods, and techniques used on a project; accomplished by matching owner values with available construction industry practices.

Construction Budget

The target cost figure covering the construction phase of a project. It includes the cost of contracts with trade contractors; construction support items; other purchased labor, material and equipment; and the construction manager's cost (but not the cost of land, A/E fees, or consultant fees).

Construction Management (CM)

A project delivery system that uses a construction manager to facilitate the design and construction of a project by organizing and directing men, materials, and equipment to accomplish the purpose of the designer. A professional service that applies effective management techniques to the planning, design, and construction of a project from inception to completion for the purpose of controlling time, cost and quality, as defined by the Construction Management Association of America (CMAA).

Content Management

The technologies used to securely manage the capture, organized storage, and retrieval of electronic content within an Enterprise Content Management system.


See reserve.

Contingency Allowance

As a result of risk analysis, money or time may be set aside as contingency, which may be used in the event of risks occurring. Contingency allowance provides for variations, which may occur in the expected values of elements of cost or schedule, but not scope or quality. (Note: contingency should not be shown in the plan as separate items and not hidden in activities as 'an extra 10%' on duration or cost.)

Contingency Reserve

The amount of money or time needed above the estimate to reduce the risk of overruns of project objectives to a level acceptable to the organization.


A contract is a mutually binding agreement, which obligates the seller to provide the specified product or service or result, and obligates the buyer to pay for it.

Contract Administration

The process of managing the contract and the relationship with the buyer and seller; reviewing and documenting how a seller is performing or has performed to establish required corrective actions and provide a basis for future relationships with the seller; managing contract related changes; and, when appropriate, managing the contractual relationship with the outside buyer of the project.

Contract Closure

The process of completing and settling the contract, including resolution of any open items, and closing each contract.

Contract Documents

A term used to represent all executed agreements between the owner and contractor; any general, supplementary, or other contract conditions; the drawings and specifications; all bidding documents, less bidding information, plus pre-award addenda issued prior to execution of the contract and post-award Change Orders; and any other items specifically stipulated as being included in the contract documents, which collectively form the contract between the contractor and the owner.

Contract Management Plan

The document that describes how a specific contract will be administered, and can include items such as required documentation delivery and performance requirements. A contract management plan can be formal or informal, highly detailed or broadly framed, based on the requirements in the contract. Each contract management plan is a subsidiary plan of the Project Management Plan.

Contract Manager

Primavera software application used to manage, capture, track and report on contract-related information.

Contract Overrun

The cost deficit after determining the difference between the original contract price and the final completed cost, including all adjustments by approved change order.

Control Account

A management control point where the integration of scope, budget, actual cost and schedule takes place, and where the measurement of performance will occur.

Controlled Vocabulary List (CVL)

In library and information science controlled vocabulary is a carefully selected list of words and phrases, which are used to tag units of information (document or work) so that they may be more easily retrieved by a search. Controlled vocabularies solve multiple problems by ensuring that each concept is described using only one authorized term, spelling and punctuation. Each authorized term in the controlled vocabulary describes only one concept. In short, controlled vocabularies reduce ambiguity inherent in normal human languages where the same concept can be given different names and ensure consistency.

Corrective Action

Documented direction for executing the project work to bring expected future performance of the project work in line with the Project Management Plan.

Cost Benefit Analysis

A process in which the costs and benefits of different options are compared. See also Business case

Cost Budgeting

The process of aggregating the estimated cost estimates of individual activities or work packages to establish a cost baseline.

Cost Control

The process of controlling the project costs. This includes monitoring and forecasting costs and detecting variances between actual costs and the budgeted costs. It also includes diagnosing the causes of any variance and making corrections. Actions to correct a variance are likely to require change control, for example deciding to reduce the scope or quality of a deliverable to reduce cost.

Cost Estimate Validation Process (CEVP)

Using input from various disciplinary experts, costs associated with potential risks to a project are assessed and the probability of delivering a project at a given cost and by a given date is determined.

Cost Estimating

The process of developing an approximation of the cost of the resources needed to complete project activities.

Cost Forecasting

Refers to the activities involved with attempting to identify the future fixed and variable costs which will be associated with a project.

Cost Loading

Refers to the activities involved with allocating costs to the control account level or below in a schedule, such as to detailed activities. The cost allocation can be done by cost element such as individual resources, roles or materials, or as a dollar cost on the control account.

Cost Management Plan

The document that sets out the format and establishes the activities and criteria for planning, structuring, and controlling the project costs. A Cost Management Plan can be formal or informal, highly detailed or broadly framed, based on the requirements of the project stakeholders. The Cost Management Plan is contained in, or is a subsidiary plan of, the Project Management Plan.

Cost Management Plan

Project Management Plan

Cost Performance Index (CPI).

A measurement of cost efficiency on a project. It is the ratio of earned value (EV) to actual cost (AC). CPI = EV divided by AC. A value equal to or greater than one indicates a favorable condition and a value less than one indicates an unfavorable condition.

Cost-Plus Fee (CPF) Contract

A type of cost reimbursable contract where the buyer reimburses the seller for the seller's allowable costs for performing the contract work, and seller also receives a fee calculated as an agreed upon percentage of the costs. The fee varies with the actual cost.

Cost-Plus-Fixed-Fee (CPFF) Contract

A type of cost-reimbursable contract where the buyer reimburses the seller for the seller's allowable costs (allowable costs are defined by the contract), plus a fixed amount of profit (fee).

Cost-Plus-Incentive-Fee (CPIF) Contract

A type of cost-reimbursable contract where the buyer reimburses the seller for the seller's allowable costs (allowable costs are defined by the contract), and the seller earns its profit if it meets defined performance criteria.

Cost Risk Assessment

A Cost Risk Assessment is a highly structured approach to incorporate consideration of uncertainty in project modeling and management. It is applied to the work product for a project at any stage in the project evolution from the early conceptual or planning studies, through design and eventual construction.

Cost-Reimbursable Contract

A type of contract involving payment (reimbursement) by the buyer to the seller for the seller's actual cost, plus a fee typically representing seller's profit. Costs are usually classified as direct costs or indirect costs. Direct costs are costs incurred for the exclusive benefit of the project, such as salaries of full-time project staff. Indirect costs (also called overhead, and general and administrative costs) are costs allocated to the project by the performing organization as a cost of doing business, such as salaries of management indirectly involved in the project, and the cost of electric utilities for the office. Indirect costs are usually calculated as a percentage of direct costs. Cost- reimbursable contracts often include incentive clauses where, if the seller meets or exceeds selected project objectives, such as schedule targets or total cost, then the seller receives from the buyer an incentive or bonus payment.

Cost Updating

Refers to the activities involved with updating the costs of a control account on a periodic basis.

Cost Variance (CV)

A measurement of cost performance on a project. It is the algebraic difference between the earned value (EV) and actual cost (AC). CV = EV minus AC. A positive value indicates a favorable condition and a negative value indicates an unfavorable condition.


A specific type of project schedule compression technique performed by taking action to decrease the total project schedule duration after analyzing a number of alternatives to determine how to get the maximum schedule duration compression for the least additional cost. Typical approaches for crashing a schedule include reducing schedule activity durations and increasing the assignment of resources on schedule activities. See also schedule compression and fast tracking.


Standards, rules, or tests on which a judgment or decision can be based, or by which a product, service, result, or process can be evaluated.

Critical Activity

Any schedule activity on a critical path in a project schedule. Most commonly determined by using the critical path method. Although some activities are "critical" in the dictionary sense, without being on the critical path, this meaning is seldom used in the project context.

Critical Chain Method

A schedule network analysis technique that modifies the project schedule to account for limited resources. The critical chain method mixes deterministic and probabilistic approaches to schedule network analysis.


A person or organization that purchases the project's product or service or result. See also user.

Methodology specific dictionaries / glossaries