Running a business or any project—in any industry, for that matter—involves specific vocabulary and lingo. Over time, as teams grow, they adapt to that “culture” or language until a normal work conversation might sound like a foreign language to outside members.
However, in the world of project and business management, while there are those terms that might seem foreign to the average Joe, there are some terms that every project and business owner should know to ensure each project and team is successful.
Purpose: Each project has a purpose. The key is to properly define that purpose to ensure all project and stakeholder requirements and specifications are properly carried out through the development, design, and delivery processes. To assess this area of a project, a project manager or business owner should ask the following questions:
- What is the purpose of the project?
- Who are its stakeholders?
- What is the project designed to accomplish?
- What solutions will the project deliverables provide?
Goals: Once a project purpose is properly defined, then a project management team can then start identifying and planning goals and objectives. A goal or objective should not only seek to accomplish project-specific goals, but also as an organization as a whole. For example, a project or business goal could relate to how a team functions together as well as how an organization grows and develops from each project and learning experience.
Resources: Regardless of how many goals or objectives are outlined in a project charter or work breakdown structure, project and organization goals and objectives cannot be reached or accomplished without resources. Resources can be project teams, suppliers, or even equipment. However, regardless of the project deliverables, specifications, and risks, a project cannot function without people or equipment.
Critical Path: The “critical path” of a project often comes with a lot of confusion. What is the critical path? This refers to the longest path to reaching a particular project goal, completing a process, or ultimately the biggest challenge in the way of accomplishing a project. The critical path often refers to the most daunting or challenging task that stands in the way of a project team reaching a goal or end result.
Risk: Each project also comes with it a set of risks. All project risks should be identified and even categorized at the beginning of every project. This will allow a project team to not only acknowledge those risks, but draft a risk response plan to each of them. This step also helps a project team to monitor all processes and systems as a project goes through all life cycle phases, and to plan accordingly should those risks be encountered.
Finally, identifying risks early on in a project will also assist with the project estimating process, which often involves organizing a contingency plan for any project risks.
Of course there are many more project management terms that a project manager should know, however, these core terms will help any project manager identify the crucial components and key aspects of any project in order to lead teams to deliver successful projects.