Key Project Management Terms and Acronyms 

Xergy Group
project management

The language surrounding project management is vast and with so many different phrases and acronyms flying about it can get confusing. So whether you’re looking to learn about project management or just need a refresher, we’ve compiled a list of simplified definitions for the most important project management acronyms and terms for you to know!

  1. Actual Cost (AC): Every cost should be thoroughly detailed throughout project execution. AC (also known as Actual Costs of Work Performed (AWCP)) reflects a project’s complete and final cost cumulatively or currently. 
  2. Baseline: Offers a stable reference point throughout the project, it is the original agreed scope, cost, or schedule. The baseline can be revised if any changes in project scope occur. 
  3. Budget: A document that consists of the approved costs and resources required to complete a project. 
  4. BAC – Budget at Completion: The sum of all the budget values established for the work to be completed on a project. 
  5. Change Control: The process of recording, assessing, accepting/rejecting, and implementing identified changes throughout the project.
  6. Change Management: The overarching approach an organisation takes to handle potential variations that may arise throughout a project. 
  7. Closeout: The last step of a project where the project is reviewed and information is stored for future use. 
  8. Cost Overruns: These occur when unexpected expenses cause a project’s costs to exceed the expected costs. 
  9. CV – Cost Variance: The difference between planned and actual costs. 
  10. CPI – Cost Performance Index: Used to calculate the financial efficiency and effectiveness of a project. CPI = Earned Value (EV)/Actual Cost (AC)
  11. Deliverables: The result of a completed project whether it is a physical product, service or something intangible. 
  12. Direct Costs: These are costs that can be directly attributed to a project such as labour, equipment and materials.  
  13. EV – Earned Value: EVM is based on ‘earned value’ which measures the value of the work completed on a project. EV = % of completed work * BAC (Budget at Completion). 
  14. EVM – Earned Value Management: A project control process that integrates schedule, cost, and performance data to allow an accurate understanding of project performance. It entails comparing the actual cost and schedule against the planned cost and schedule to determine if the project is on track and allows project managers to make appropriate adjustments. 
  15. EAC – Estimate at Completion: A project manager estimates the cost of the project before it starts. This estimation evolves as the project progresses and gets closer to the end. 
  16. Forecasting: This involves estimating or predicting the future of ongoing projects. By examining metrics like cost and time, project managers can deduce whether the project is on track. 
  17. Gantt Chart: A visual representation showing project tasks against time. This helps project managers manage and monitor project progress. 
  18. Indirect Costs: Costs that are not directly attributed to a specific project. Examples include office costs, legal fees, and utilities. 
  19. Key Performance Indicators (KPIs): Metrics of success that can be used to measure whether a project is performing successfully.
  20. Milestone: A significant event in project execution, usually used to examine whether a project is on track or not. 
  21. PV – Planned Value: The planned value involves looking at where your project should be in the schedule and estimated cost at a specific point. It is also known as the budgeted cost of work scheduled (BCWS). PV = % of the project completed (planned) * Project Budget. 
  22. Project Controls: The specific data techniques and tools that ensure projects adhere to their plans. Project controls track project progress, identify risks, and help project managers make informed decisions. 
  23. Project Life Cycle: A framework providing project managers with a structure to tackle projects from start to finish. It consists of 5 stages; initiation, planning, execution, monitoring, and closure.
  24. Project Management: A framework that involves carrying out a project with the right skills, resources, and quality, staying within a set timeline and budget. 
  25. Project Manager: The individual with the ultimate responsibility to plan, execute, coordinate, and deliver projects. Their main goal is to deliver projects on time, within budget, and to the expected standard. 
  26. PPM – Project Portfolio Management: The analysis of costs, resources, schedules and technologies of all the projects within a centralised portfolio to optimise processes to support organisational objectives. 
  27. PMP – Project Management Professional: Any individual who works in the field of project management. 
  28. Project Management Software: Project Management Software allows project managers to leverage technology to streamline project processes. Proteus is an end-to-end project management tool that gives project managers access to real-time data enabling greater accuracy, visibility and project control. 
  29. Project Quality Management: The process of consistently measuring the quality of project activities and processes. Standards are decided before the project begins and corrective actions are taken throughout to ensure the deliverables are satisfactory upon completion. 
  30. Proposal: A document outlining a proposed project, its purpose, objectives, scope and how it will be completed. 
  31. Reporting: Taking information about the project and putting it into an appropriate format for various reasons such as formally sharing with stakeholders or for reference for future projects.
  32. RFC – Request for Change: If a stakeholder identifies the need for a modification in the project they can submit an RFC to be considered by the project manager. 
  33. Resources: Everything necessary to complete the project, most importantly money and people. 
  34. Resource Management: Involves forecasting, resource allocation and monitoring all the resources necessary throughout the project including team members, software, and equipment.
  35. Risk: Potential negative disruptions that could harm the success of a project if they were to happen. 
  36. Risk Management: Actively monitoring and analysing project progress and identifying and responding to potential risks that may threaten project success. Proteus gives project teams access to real-time data which is particularly valuable for encouraging proactivity and successfully mitigating risk. 
  37. SPI – Schedule Performance Index: It is a component of EVM that represents the ratio of what has been accomplished vs work planned at a certain point in the project allowing project managers to see if their project is on track. 
  38. Scope: The comprehensive definition of what the project involves and what is required for it to be successful. 
  39. Scope Creep: Typically perceived as negative as this involves changes to a project without going through the official change control procedures. Unapproved changes lead to disruptive costs and time delays. 
  40. Stakeholders: Internal or external individuals involved or impacted by a project, usually refers to those interested in the project being completed successfully including project managers and clients. 
  41. Timesheets: A document used to track the hours worked by project teams. They can be used to track project progress, individual performance, and for estimating future projects. 
  42. VAC – Variance at Completion: The difference between budget at completion and estimate at completion (VAC = BAC – EAC). 
  43. Variation: A change in the schedule or scope of a project
  44. Work Breakdown Structure (WBS): An exhaustive, deliverable-oriented, hierarchical model of the work to be performed by a project team to complete project objectives. Each level is progressively more detailed with the lowest level representing individual tasks. This comprehensive structure ensures that all the tasks are considered and no task is left out. 
  45. Work Packages: Smaller tasks that make up the WBS, making project tasks easier for project teams to manage.
  46. VOWD – Value of Work Done: This is a method for measuring and estimating the cost of the project at a particular point in time.

About Proteus Project Software

Xergy Group’s Proteus project management software works with your existing systems and scales as your business grows. Created by project management leaders, for the diversified engineering consultancy sector, Proteus delivers an end-to-end work management software platform with detailed workflows from the early opportunity stage through to project delivery.

Proteus’ end-to-end project management software is a cloud-based system designed for businesses of all sizes to handle projects of unlimited complexity. Proteus is compliant with common project management frameworks and ISO standards. Each feature aims to make bottom-line improvements by improving utilisation, streamlining workflows, providing quick and efficient access to resources, and reducing overheads. Check out some of our client case studies to learn more about how Proteus makes a tangible difference.

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