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Project Management Jargon

Understanding Project Management Principles

Gantt chart

A visual tool for planning, scheduling and monitoring the different steps in a project. 

A Gantt chart starts with a list of the stages in the project, the estimated length of time it will take to complete each stage, and whether the stages can be completed at any time or in sequence.  These stages are then plotted sequentially, usually in the form of lines or blocks, against a timeline of the number of weeks or months required to carry them out.  This enables project managers to see at a glance what needs to be done by when, and in what order tasks should be completed.

Critical path

Another tool for planning and scheduling projects, and which starts with the same list of stages as a Gantt chart, a critical path analysis is created using lines and arrows between the different numbered stages of a project.  Tasks which must be completed one after another are therefore presented in a straight line, while tasks which can be done independently form offshoots to the main line or path.  This form of presentation makes it easy to identify tasks which can be delayed if the project falls behind schedule.  Both gantt charts and critical paths can be generated by using project planning software such as Microsoft Project.

Stakeholder analysis

Carried out at the start of a project, stakeholder analysis identifies anyone with an interest in or influence over your project, and anyone who will be affected by its outcomes.  It is a vital step in the project planning process, as it will help you understand who is important to the success of your project and why, and who you will need to involve and how.

Microsoft Project

Project planning software which helps project managers plan and track projects.  Can be used to generate a number of templates and tools, including gantt charts and critical paths.

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