Have you found yourself in charge of a project at work?
Or maybe you’ve been selected to be part of a team with very specific goals?
In either case, you’re going to need a lot of terms and phrases to be a successful project manager.
Project management is all about creating a clear plan that makes sure the resources and people involved on a project are managed properly.
A project manager is responsible for making sure that the project is completed successfully from beginning to end.
The vocabulary in this article will be especially useful to you if you’re a project manager in charge of many types of projects, such as developing a new software system, designing a physical product like a tablet, lamp or pen or improving your sales in a specific area.
Please note that this is not a full list of words you’ll come across in English for project management. Rather, this list will give you the basics so you can get a head start and add to your already extensive vocabulary of useful business English idioms and expressions.
English for Project Management Resources
Below are two great resources you can use to more words and phrases for managing projects, or even in your day-to-day work.
- Business English Pod: This is a great site to use for learning different parts of Business English with the help of videos, articles and podcasts. Much of their content is free, but as a premium member you also get access to PDF transcripts and quizzes. Visit the Project Management section to see five different situations where project management vocabulary is used.
- FluentU: FluentU offers a great learning program tailored to your specific needs.
Unlike traditional language learning sites, FluentU uses a natural approach that helps you ease into the English language and culture over time. You’ll learn English as it’s spoken in real life.
FluentU has a variety of engaging content from popular talk shows, nature documentaries and funny commercials, as you can see here:
FluentU makes it really easy to watch English videos. There are captions that are interactive. That means you can tap on any word to see an image, definition and useful examples.
For example, when you tap on the word "searching," you'll see this:
Learn all the vocabulary in any video with quizzes. Swipe left or right to see more examples for the word you’re learning.
The best part is that FluentU keeps track of the vocabulary that you’re learning and recommends examples and videos to you based on the words you’ve already learned. Every learner has a truly personalized experience, even if they’re learning the same video.
You can start using the FluentU website on your computer or tablet or, better yet, by downloading the app from the iTunes or Google Play stores.
From A to Z: Learn Key English for Project Management Expressions
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Work that you do to make sure a project runs smoothly. Action items include calling a meeting, making phone calls, emailing clients and giving an estimate.
Example: Jim, please schedule a meeting for next week as an action item.
Permission given by management to go ahead and do something.
Example: We need authorization from the Director for the order to go through.
The starting point of a project used to measure how well the project is doing, compare to the current state of the project or judge how effective an improvement is.
Example: According to our baseline, we have managed to keep to the schedule even though we had problems with resources.
The specific amount of money set aside for a project.
Example: The budget for this project cannot exceed $10 million.
When a group of people agree on something.
Example: The consensus among the board members was to raise the budget for the project.
A limitation or lack (not having enough of something). Constraints may negatively affect a project or make it difficult to move the project forward.
Example: The lack of resource availability has been a huge constraint on our project, causing us to take too much time on it.
A product that is ready at the end of a project to be delivered to a customer. This can be a software product, a report, a document or even a system that is given to a client.
Example: The deliverable is expected to be completed by the 21st of the month.
The time it takes for a part of the project from beginning to end.
Example: The expected duration for this project is four months.
The person or people who will use the product at the end of the project.
Example: The end user should be able to switch on the flashlight simply by shaking it.
To come up with a number for something, like costs, using information you already have.
Example: They came up with an estimation of $50,000 for repairs and damages.
A set time to complete work. This time cannot be changed even if the details or resources used to complete it are changed.
Example: The three-week fixed duration for this part of the project will be harder to reach now that three of our team members quit.
A prediction (estimate about the future) of what a project will look like at a certain stage using the available information.
Example: We forecast a project of this size will take twice as long in the next quarter of the year.
An aim or desired result of a project.
Example: Our goal is to sell 2 million units by the end of the financial year.
When a decision has to be made about whether a project will continue or not.
Example: The lack of government backing brought the project to a go/no go situation.
The part of the project when the final product is given to the users.
Example: The handover of the tablets to the public went smoothly during the conference.
Human resource management plan
A plan that explains the roles and relationships of the people working together on a project and how they will be managed.
Example: Feel free to refer to the human resource management plan if you need to collaborate with someone on the project.
Resources, people or information needed by project management before a project can start.
Example: I need to know the estimated cost of the inputs for project WaterHole by 9:00 a.m. tomorrow.
A record of any issues or problems a project may have and the people responsible for solving these issues.
Example: Jack has done an excellent job of frequently updating the issue log so we know exactly what needs to be done next.
The first meeting between a client and the project team, which makes sure everyone is happy and agrees on what the project should achieve by the end of it.
Example: We’re excited about our kickoff meeting with over 100 anticipated in attendance.
Key performance indicator (KPI)
A system based on something that can be measured, created at the beginning of the project to check how well the project is doing while it’s in progress.
Example: When last did you check your key performance indicator to make sure things are going as well as they should be?
A delay that must happen between two stages of a project.
Example: We expect a two-day lag for the CEO to read and accept our proposal before we can begin the next stage.
A process or method that helps the project team come up with new ideas or solutions by looking at a problem in a unique or different way.
Example: Lateral thinking is a great way to get personnel thinking outside the box when we face problems like limited resources.
The person or people in charge of planning a project, looking after the people working on the project and the use of resources to achieve a goal.
Example: Management‘s quick response time and great feedback have made the project easier to complete.
Important moments in a project which work as objectives to mark the successful progress of a project. They also often mark the change from one task to the next.
Example: We’ve reached three milestones to date. Four more to go.
A discussion between two parties meant to fix any problems and come to an agreement.
Example: The negotiation between us and the supplier was successfully completed two days ago.
Nonlinear management (NLM)
A management process that encourages self-organization and adaptability for a project team.
Example: Nonlinear management has helped the people on the project use their time better, leading to better results.
A clear and brief statement about the goal of any work done.
Example: Our first objective was to conduct a survey regarding mobile app use among teenagers.
A product, such as a phone or software, that is made at the end of a project.
Example: The output was 50,000 units as of last month.
A specific stage that is a part of the whole project.
Example: The first phase of the project has been quite stressful.
A calendar of planned events used to help manage project resources and work to complete the project successfully.
Example: The project schedule has helped us stay on track and manage our time better.
A method that tests the product to make sure it meets the requirements and has no mistakes or imperfections.
Example: Quality assurance worked overtime to make sure the product worked great.
A method that tests a sample product to make sure the product is what the user expects.
Example: The quality control on this process helped us finish the project earlier than expected.
A supply of money, items, human labor, information and other assets which are needed for a project to be completed.
Example: The project failed because it lacked the financial resources to finish on time.
The ability to manage a potential event or situation that could have a negative effect on a project.
Example: The efficient risk management helped the company avoid a $10 million debt.
A detailed list, from start to finish, of each stage of the project, including milestones.
Example: The full schedule of the project has been sent to all the relevant parties.
Everything that a project is supposed to achieve in order for it to be seen as a success.
Example: According to our scope, we have exceeded expectations.
Measurable goals that are used to judge the success and measure the benefit of a project.
Example: One of our target outcomes for this phone is to reduce the amount of time it takes to turn on by three seconds.
A single, specific job that needs to be done. Projects are often broken up into tasks to make it easier to achieve the project’s goal.
Example: Your first task for the day is to make coffee for the project manager.
A description of what an end user needs from a product.
Example: The user story gave us a lot of insight into how exactly women use fashion apps.
The features or quality of a service or product that decides its value.
Example: Our music app has a value tree of 5/5 because it is free and users can save their playlists directly on their phone.
A group of people working from different locations or organizations.
Example: Our virtual team has directors, artists and copywriters from all over the world.
Worst case scenario
A guess of the most serious negative event that could happen in a situation.
Example: The worst case scenario is heavy rains that could wash away the sand needed for the building project.
The work done by different groups of people to help the project reach its goals.
Example: The work stream has three main teams: development, quality assurance and marketing.
X-Bar Control Charts
Two separate charts which show the average sample ranges of a particular product, like weight and temperature, over a specific period of time.
Example: The X-Bar control charts need to be revised due to new risks coming to our attention.
What did you think about the list? Were some of the words familiar? The best way to get used to them is to practice them! Use them in meetings or on reports and practice with your classmates or coworkers.
Before you know it, English for project management will be as easy as ABC!
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