Project Management Terms and Shorthand: How to Standardize Your Workflow

When you’re a team leader in the workplace, you need a project management app or tool to standardize workflow, assign tasks, and more easily achieve deliverables. But having the right tool is one thing. You also need to have the project management terms downpat — and to ensure that your teammates also know and understand them — so that you’re all speaking the same language.

According to PMI’s 10th Global Project Management Survey for 2018, only 58% of organizations fully grasp the value of project management. The importance of understanding the need for project management is can’t be overstressed since businesses that undervalue project management as a strategic component for driving change experience project failure at a rate that is 50% higher than companies that place the proper emphasis on project management.

Here’s a list of some of the more common project management (PM) terms — plus the shorthand term for these terms — and what they mean. Ensuring that you as team leader and the other  people on your team are familiar with them will only stand to make you a more cohesive team.

Most Common Project Management Terms

workflow in project management

Actual Cost (AC)

The actual cost refers to the true total tally connected to completing the project. It will include things like all labor hours, direct costs, and indirect costs. In order to support the actual cost, it’s important to itemize everything that adds up to constitute the final cost. Another term for actual cost is actual costs of work performed (AWCP).

Actual Finish Date (AF)

When it comes to project management, the actual finish date can actually differ from the date that the project is deemed to be done. How is this? Sometimes a project can be considered completed when most of the work has indeed been wrapped up — but there may still be some odds and ends that need to be tied up. Add to that scenario situations that may arise that delay the process, and you can see how the actual finish date can be later than the finished date. However, if you and your team are on the same page, you can ensure that there is little delay between the finished date and the actual finish date.

workflow in project management

Bill of Materials (BOM)

A bill of materials refers to a formal written document that lists everything that must be included in the agreed upon deliverable. It is common for the bill of materials to be among the documents that is developed upon the inception of the project and that everyone involved in the project understand the BOM and what each team member is responsible for to accomplish the project.

FreeFloat ( FF)

This term refers to the quantity of time that stretches from the wrapping up of one previously scheduled task and extends to when the next scheduled task is supposed to start. You can calculate free float by figuring out earliest start dates of the initial task and the succeeding task, and the subtracting from that tally the quantity of time alloted for completion of the first task.

workflow in project management

Original Duration (OD)

Original duration refers to the amount of time originally believed to be sufficient to begin and complete the project. This data is not to be altered or updated as the project progresses. Instead, the original duration, or OD, is useful to the extent that it will enable you as project manager to compare the OD to the remaining duration of the project, which in term will give you and your team an accurate gauge on how the project is going at any point leading to completion.

Total Quality Management (TQM)

Total quality management is a strategy that you as project manager can implement to drive home the importance of you and your team achieving quality from the date the project is started to the date that the project is completed. In order for TQM to work for you and your team, you have to clearly communicate what is expected, develop standards, explain procedures, and ensure that everyone involved in the project follows the plan to the letter.

workflow in project management

Project management is obviously important, but you and your team need to be speaking the same language if you’re all to be on the right page. These project management terms, as well as the shorthand references for them, will get you and your team speaking the same lingo as you work together to complete projects to exact specifications, on time, and on budget.