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 - Parametic 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

D - Decision Tree Analysis to Duration

Decision Tree Analysis

The decision tree is a diagram that describes a decision under consideration and the implications of choosing one or another of the available alternatives. It is used when some future scenarios or outcomes of actions are uncertain. It incorporates probabilities and the costs or rewards of each logical path of events and future decisions, and uses expected monetary value analysis to help the organization identify the relative values of alternate actions.


A planning technique that subdivides the project scope and project deliverables into smaller, more manageable components, until the project work associated with accomplishing the project scope and providing the deliverables is defined in sufficient detail to support executing, monitoring, and controlling the work.

Delphi Technique

An information-gathering technique used as a way to reach a consensus of experts on a subject. Experts on the subject participate in this technique anonymously. A facilitator uses a questionnaire to solicit ideas about the important project points related to the subject. The responses are summarized and are then recirculated to the experts for further comment. Consensus may be reached in a few rounds of this process. The Delphi technique helps reduce bias in the data and keeps any one person from having undue influence on the outcome.


A relation between activities, such that one requires input from the other. For example:

Design-Build (D-B)

  1. A procurement or project delivery arrangement whereby a single entity (a contractor with subconsultants, or team of contractors and engineers, often with subconsultants) is entrusted with both design and construction of a project. This contrasts with traditional procurement, where one contract is bid for the design phase and then a second contract is bid for the construction phase of the project.
  2. A project delivery method where a design-build contractor (contractor-led D-B), A/E design professional (design-led D-B), or CM (CM-led D-B) is directly responsible for both the total project design and construction of the project. Design-Build liability can be explicitly conveyed through the contract documents, or implicitly conveyed through the assumption of project-specific design liability, via performance specifications.
  3. A written agreement between and contractor and owner wherein the contractor agrees to provide both design and construction services.

Design-Build Contracting

A contract structure where both design and construction responsibility are vested in a single contractor.

Design-Build Contractor

A contractor that provides design and construction services under a single responsibility contract to an owner.

Design-Build Construction

When a Prime or Main contractor bids or negotiates to provide Design and Construction services for the entire construction project.

Direct Costs

The costs directly attributed to a work-scope, such as labor, material, equipment, and subcontracts, but not the cost of operations overhead and the labor, material, equipment, and subcontracts expended in support of the undertaking. Direct Costs, Hard Costs, and Construction Costs are synonymous.

Direct Labor Costs

Costs accruing from expended labor excluding the bonus portion of overtime, insurances, and payroll taxes.

Direct Material Costs

Costs accruing from material acquisition, including purchase price, freight, and taxes.

Duration (DU or DUR)

The number of work periods (not including holidays or other nonworking periods) required to complete a schedule activity or work breakdown structure component. Usually expressed as workdays or workweeks. Sometimes incorrectly equated with elapsed time. Contrast with effort.

Actual Duration

The time in calendar units between the actual start date of the schedule activity and either the data date of the project schedule if the schedule activity is in progress or the actual finish date if the schedule activity is complete.

Original Duration (OD)

The activity duration originally assigned to a schedule activity and not updated as progress is reported on the activity. Typically used for comparison with actual duration and remaining duration when reporting schedule progress.

Remaining Duration (RD)

The time in calendar units, between the data date of the project schedule and the finish date of a schedule activity that has an actual start date. This represents the time needed to complete a schedule activity where the work is in progress.

Methodology specific dictionaries / glossaries