Project Management: What are they talking about? Let me tell you something that happened to me. I was in a meeting about a project I was working on. People were saying things like, "We don't want scope creep," or, "Look at the Gantt chart," or, "Let's talk about the WBS." I had no idea what they were talking about, so I made it a point to find out. Now I'm not a project manager, I don't know everything about project management, but now I can tell you what some of those words mean. Here it goes. First, there are the people. The project manager is the person who oversees the project, keeps track of who's doing what, and makes sure everything is completed on time and on budget. It's a big job. Then there are the stakeholders, all the people or groups who will be affected by the project: the project team members, company management, customers, and others. Then there are the deliverables. These are the things that are made during the project. They have to be delivered. There's the final product, of course, the product or plan that the project is working on, but also many others: progress reports, records of what was decided, or tasks to be done. There are milestones. These are important points in the time schedule for the project. The deadline when some important part of the project needs to be completed. They're often represented by a black diamond on a schedule. Of course, there's lots of documentation. You have to keep records, write everything down in an organized way so everyone knows what's happening, what's already been done, and what still needs to be done. They talked about all the things that could go wrong, the risks. Sometimes someone can't finish the work fast enough and we get behind schedule. We even miss milestones, something isn't done on time, and we can't finish by a deadline. Costs are sometimes more than we'd planned for, so the project might be over budget. Then there's scope creep. Everyone in the team thinks we understand exactly what the project is supposed to accomplish. We have a clear idea of its scope. But then somebody has a clever idea for something extra we could add, or a customer says, "It would be so great if it had this one more feature." So we add bits to the work until we just don't have enough time or people to finish it all. We've lost sight of that nice manageable product we were supposed to produce, that's scope creep. There are lots of ways that the project manager keeps track of all the parts of a project. One of the first ones they need is the work breakdown structure or WBS. This is a chart that breaks the whole project down into smaller chunks, then breaks those chunks down into smaller tasks, and so forth. When they have a detailed map of all the tasks that need to be done, they can decide who will do each one and set a deadline for completing each step. Another really important way of staying organized is to use a Gantt chart. It lists all the tasks that need to be done on the left side, and the days, weeks, or months of the project across the top. A bar is filled in for each task, showing when work on it will begin and end. This gives an overview of all the parts of the puzzle and how they fit together. Well, that's what I learned. I hope this is helpful in understanding some of the terms project managers use. Good luck in your next project meeting.