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Project Management Dictionaries
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Project Management Dictionary of Terms

by | reviewed 2023-08-19
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

S - Saved Search to System

Saved Search

A set of search criteria and the attribute values for the search that may be retained for repeated reuse.


Scale, defined by Webster's, is a progressive classification, as of size, amount, importance, or rank. In other words, scalability is the level of work planning required based on the project size, project complexity, and team size. The project manager determines the appropriate level of detail.


See project schedule and see also schedule model.

Schedule Activity

Schedule Analysis

See schedule network analysis.

Schedule Compression

Shortening the project schedule duration without reducing the project scope. See also crashing and fast tracking.

Schedule Control

The process of controlling changes to the project schedule.

Schedule Development

The process of analyzing schedule activity sequences, schedule activity durations, resource requirements, and schedule constraints to create the project schedule.

Schedule Management Plan

The document that establishes criteria and the activities for developing and controlling the project schedule. It is contained in, or is a subsidiary plan of, the Project Management Plan. The schedule management plan may be formal or informal, highly detailed or broadly framed, based on the needs of the project.

Schedule Milestone

A significant event in the project schedule, such as an event restraining future work or marking the completion of a major deliverable. A schedule milestone has zero duration. Sometimes called a milestone activity. See also milestone.

Schedule Model

A model used in conjunction with manual methods or project management software to perform schedule network analysis to generate the project schedule for use in managing the execution of a project. See also project schedule.

Schedule Network Analysis

The technique of identifying early and late start dates, as well as early and late finish dates, for the uncompleted portions of project schedule activities. See also critical path method, critical chain method, what-if analysis, and resource leveling.

Schedule Performance Index (SPI)

A measure of schedule efficiency on a project. It is the ratio of earned value (EV) to planned value (PV). The SPI = EV divided by PV. An SPI equal to or greater than one indicates a favorable condition, and a value of less than one indicates an unfavorable condition. See also earned value management.

Schedule Variance (SV)

A measure of schedule performance on a project. It is the algebraic difference between the earned value (EV) and the planned value (PV). SV = EV minus PV. See also earned value management.

Scheduled Finish Date (SF)

The point in time that work was scheduled to finish on a schedule activity. The scheduled finish date is normally within the range of dates delimited by the early finish date and the late finish date. It may reflect resource leveling of scarce resources. Sometimes called planned finish date.

Scheduled Start Date (SS)

The point in time that work was scheduled to start on a schedule activity. The scheduled start date is normally within the range of dates delimited by the early start date and the late start date. It may reflect resource leveling of scarce resources. Sometimes called planned start date.

Schedule Variance

The difference between the Budgeted Cost of Work Scheduled and the Budgeted Cost of Work Performed.


The process of converting a general or outline plan for a project into a time-based schedule based on the available resources and time constraints.

Scheduling software

Scheduling software automates the scheduling of meetings, rooms and resources (human and machinery/equipment).

Project Scheduling software automates critical path calculations and resource scheduling allowing project managers to immediately see the impact of changes on the project tasks and end date. Microsoft Project is a good example widely used in multiple industries.


Scope Baseline

Scope Change

Any change to the project scope. A scope change almost always requires an adjustment to the project cost or schedule.

Scope Control

The process of controlling changes to the project scope.

Scope Creep

Scope Definition

The process of developing a detailed project scope statement as the basis for future project decisions.

Scope of Work (SOW)

Defines the work to be done in detail, the materials to be used and the exact nature of the work to be done.

Scope Management

The function of controlling a project in terms of its goals and objectives through the processes of conceptual development; full definition or scope statement; execution; and termination.

Scope Planning

The process of creating a project scope management plan.

Scope Statement

A documented description of the project's output or deliverables.

Scope Verification

The process of formalizing acceptance of the completed project deliverables.


Graphic display of cumulative costs, labor hours, percentage of work, or other quantities, plotted against time. The name derives from the S-like shape of the curve (flatter at the beginning and end, steeper in the middle) produced on a project that starts slowly, accelerates, and then trails off. Also a term for the cumulative likelihood distribution that is a result of a simulation, a tool of quantitative risk analysis.

Search Template

A set of search criteria without attribute values for the search that may be retained for repeated reuse.

Secondary Risk

A risk that arises as a direct result of implementing a risk response.


Useful work performed that does not produce a tangible product or result, such as performing any of the business functions supporting production or distribution. Contrast with product and result. See also deliverable.


A simulation uses a project model that translates the uncertainties specified at a detailed level into their potential impact on objectives that are expressed at the level of the total project. Project simulations use computer models and estimates of risk, usually expressed as a probability distribution of possible costs or durations at a detailed work level, and are typically performed using the Monte Carlo analysis.


Ability to use knowledge, a developed aptitude, and/or a capability to effectively and readily execute or perform an activity.


See total float and free float.

Specific Measureable Achievable Timebound (SMART)

Software Requirements Recommendation

A document that summarizes and addresses the requirements gathered for software implementation and provides recommendations as how to move forward with that information.

Special Cause

A source of variation that is not inherent in the system, is not predictable, and is intermittent. It can be assigned to a defect in the system. On a control chart, points beyond the control limits, or non- random patterns within the control limits, indicate it. Also referred to as assignable cause. Contrast with common cause.

Specialty Groups

Functional groups responsible for specialized services or products (Environmental, Traffic, Bridge & Structures, Geotechnical, Right of Way, Materials, etc.)


A document that specifies, in a complete, precise, verifiable manner, the requirements, design, behavior, or other characteristics of a system, component, product, result, or service and, often, the procedures for determining whether these provisions have been satisfied. Examples are: requirement specification, design specification, product specification, and test specification.

Specification Limits

The area, on either side of the center line, or mean, of data plotted on a control chart that meets the customer's requirements for a product or service. This area may be greater than or less than the area defined by the control limits.


Sponsor - Stakeholder

Persons and organizations such as customers, sponsors, performing organizations, and the public that are actively involved in the project, or whose interests may be positively or negatively affected by execution or completion of the project. They may also exert influence over the project and its deliverables.



A document established by consensus and approved by a recognized body that provides, for common and repeated use, rules, guidelines, or characteristics for activities or their results, aimed at the achievement of the optimum degree of order in a given context.

Start Date

A point in time associated with a schedule activity's start, usually qualified by one of the following: actual, planned, estimated, scheduled, early, late, target, baseline, or current.

Statement of Work (SOW)

Status Reporting

Status reporting is the issuing of regular pre-defined reports which are essential to the monitoring and control of project progress. The reports produced, contents, frequency and audience are typically defined in the project methodology and documented in the project communication plan. Typical project status reports include:

Subject Matter Expert (SME)


A subdivision of a phase.


A smaller portion of the overall project created when a project is subdivided into more manageable components or pieces. Subprojects are usually represented in the work breakdown structure. A subproject can be referred to as a project, managed as a project, and acquired from a seller. May be referred to as a subnetwork in a project schedule network diagram.

Substantial Completion

The stage in the progress of the work when the work, or designated portion of the work, is sufficiently complete in accordance with the contract documents so that the owner can occupy or utilize the work for its intended use.

Substantial Completion Date

The date on which a contractor reaches a point of completion, when subsequent interfacing contractors can productively begin work or the owner can occupy the project, in whole or in part, without undo interference.


The schedule activity that follows a predecessor activity, as determined by their logical relationship.


Summary Activity

A group of related schedule activities aggregated at some summary level, and displayed/reported as a single activity at that summary level. See also subproject.


a type of financial modelling that includes random variables to estimate the probability of possible outcomes.

SWOT analysis


An integrated set of regularly interacting or interdependent components created to accomplish a defined objective, with defined and maintained relationships among its components, and the whole producing or operating better than the simple sum of its components. Systems may be either physically process- based or management process based, or more commonly a combination of both. Systems for project management are composed of project management processes, techniques, methodologies, and tools operated by the project management team.

Methodology specific dictionaries / glossaries