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Essential English vocabulary for project management

Project managers often say that one of their biggest  problems is communication, for example, members of the team not understanding specific technical terms relating to project management. Here is some vocabulary commonly used when managing projects in English. There is a short quiz at the end of this blog post for you to test your new knowledge!


An acronym is an abbreviation which consists of the first letters of each word. For example, ASAP means: As Soon As Possible.

Here are some of the most commonly used acronyms:

  • RFP: Request For Procurement
  • RAG: Red, Amber, Green (this traffic light system is used to assess risk)
  • RACI: Responsible, Accountable, Consulted, Informed (this is used to represent the level of responsibility for a task).

Responsible - the person responsible  for doing the actual work

Accountable – the person accountable for the success of the task

Consulted – the person who needs to be consulted for details and additional information.

Informed – the person who needs to be kept informed of major update

  • KPI: Key Performance Indicator (these are key or critical indicators of progress towards an intended result and they help in decision making).


Scope, or scoping

This is the overall definition of what the project should achieve, and includes a specific description of what the result should look like. An important part of scope is the final quality of the product 

Scope creep

This refers to the uncontrolled growth or continuous growth of the project scope resulting from constant changes to requirements without consideration to the impact on resources or timescale. Dashboards are a useful tool to keep a visual track of project progress and scope creep.


A stakeholder is anyone, whether internal or external, who has an interest in a project or will be affected by its results. Sometimes a stakeholder can also be referred to as a key (ie important) stakeholder.


This is the output of what the project is doing. It should be something well-defined. The deliverable might be different for each member of the team. Example of deliverables include a document, a report, a product, a process or a new service.


This means to put something into action.


This is a key event during the lifecycle of a project. Milestones are used to mark specific points along a project timeline.  We can also talk about key or important milestones depending on their influence within the project.


This is used to describe acceptance of a new way of doing things, or changes to job roles, plans, etc. It’s important to work with all the stakeholders involved in a project to make sure they are happy with the new plan, method, etc. It can also be used as a verb, eg “Although the new process is the key deliverable of the project, it will be unsuccessful if the team don’t then buy in to the new way of doing things”

Collaboration and integration

A crucial aspect to successful projects is whether teams and team members can work together. This is called collaboration. Sometimes, this may involve moving (integrating) people into new teams or departments, or the integration of different technical systems with one another to form a longer process, such as a website with a payment system.


This is a type of linear project management approach where a project flows - like a waterfall - steadily through distinct phases and is completed in sequence. Waterfall is a traditional approach to project management.


This is a cyclical type of project management approach. Agile involves breaking up the project into short phases called sprints. At the end of each sprint, the work done is evaluated. Agile project management is becoming more popular, as it allows the possibility for change to the outcome according to change in circumstances or user requirements


This is a document that maps out the criteria, methods, processes, tasks, resources and tools that will be used during the project. There are many different types of frameworks depending on the size of the team, the work they are doing, the industry, and how much budget there is available for the project.


Complete the missing word with one of the words we have just looked at

1. Any individual that has a direct or indirect interest in a project is known as a _________.

2. The ________ approach focuses on breaking down the project into small cycles or stages. These stages or cycles are then prioritised in terms of urgency or importance.

3. The _____________ model is a traditional approach. The project development takes place systematically, in sequence, from one phase to another. Each phase has to be completed before moving on to the next phase.

4. A ____________ represents a major event in a project lifestyle. It is used as a reference point to measure the progress of a project, and it helps with project scheduling and monitoring.

5. A ____________ can be a product or a new service.

 6.  _____   _______ refers to an uncontrolled change in a project’s scope. (2 words)            

In the next section, chose one definition (either a, b, or c) which best describes the word.

7. Collaborate (verb) / collaboration (noun)

  • a) Working with one or more people on the same project with similar goals.
  • b) Working with only one team with different goals.
  • c) Working with chemicals in relation to managing a specific project.

8. Integrate (verb) / integration (noun)

  • a) The process of bringing people, activities, and other things together to perform effectively.
  • b) The process of separating people so they can work more effectively.
  • c) The process of people thinking carefully about the tasks they will perform.

9. Framework (noun)

  • a) A chart used to help with planning and decisions.
  • b) A system of diagrams and charts to ensure that projects work more effectively.
  • c) A map of processes, methods and criteria used to plan or decide something.

10. Implement (verb) / implementation (noun)

  • a) to set up an additional system or plan.
  • b) to put a plan or system into operation.
  • c) to ensure a plan or system works better.

11. Define (verb) / definable (adjective)

  • a) to explain and state the meaning and exact limits of something.
  • b) to decide that the meaning needs to be made obvious.
  • c) Something that is very broad and wide.

12.   Dashboard (noun)

  • a) A visual way to share project data and progress.
  • b) A tool to show how quickly something is moving.
  • c) A system of logical steps or cycles.

Quiz answers:

  1. Stakeholder - a project stakeholder
  2. Agile – an agile approach
  3. Waterfall – the waterfall model / approach
  4. Milestone
  5. Deliverable – deliverables
  6. Scope creep
  7. The answer is (a)
  8. The answer is (a)
  9. The answer is (c)
  10. The answer is (b)
  11. The answer is (a)
  12. The answer is (a)

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