Project Management Glossary

We know that these terms may be used with slightly different definitions in different campus communities.  This is a guide to what we mean when we use these terms.


Change Management:  Preparing, equipping, and supporting individuals to successfully adopt change in order to drive organizational success and outcomes. 

Program:  An ongoing endeavor undertaken to provide a service or result.  While scope and resources are not unlimited, they are often vaguely defined and can shift in order to achieve desired results. 

Project:  A temporary endeavor undertaken to create a unique product, service, or result.  It has a defined beginning and end in time, and therefore defined scope and resources.  (Sometimes also called an initiative.)   

Project Management:  The application of knowledge, skills, tools and techniques to the project activities, in order to meet the project requirements.   


Project Lead:  Primary individual with operational accountability for the project, involved with the project on a day-to-day basis.  Has significant expertise in one or more of the primary functional areas that the project will impact.   

Project Manager:  Individual with responsibility for bringing in the project on time and budget, serving as the communication hub for the project, and providing a framework within which the Project Lead’s work can happen.   

Project Sponsor:  Senior individual with overall accountability for the project, often not involved in day-to-day project work.  Approves the project, authorizes project funding and resource allocation, ensures project alignment with larger organizational strategies.  This person will generally be AVP level or higher. 

Subject Matter Expert (SME):  Individual with significant expertise in a functional area impacted by the project.  Serves as an informant on the project. 

Project Documents

Charter:  A document created early in the project lifecycle that outlines the essence of the project, providing a shared understanding of what the goals, constraints, and governance of the project will be.  It will state the initial requirements to satisfy key stakeholders’ needs and expectations, and formally authorize the project.   

Deliverable:  Any tangible outcome produced by the project.   

Milestone:  A scheduled event on the project timeline that signifies the completion of a major deliverable or set of related deliverables.   

Requirement:  A condition or task that must be completed to ensure the success or completion of the project.  Requirements may address what will be done (we need a new unit to handle these cases) or how that will be done (it needs to be open 8am-5pm, be able to process 50 applications per week, have an error rate of less than 3%).  A project should be closed once all the requirements are completed.  

Project Schedule:  Documentation of how the project will be completed.  It describes the activities required, the sequence of the work, who is assigned to the work, an estimate of how much effort/time is required, when the work is due, and other relevant information