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Talk Like a Project Manager
By Jennifer Whitt

A particularly helpful resource for project managers is The Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK Guide) by PMI, the Project Management Institute. There are other resources out there, and you can certainly Google these terms, but it’s important for new and occasional project managers to be clear about some of the more widely used-and sometimes misused-terms.

Top Ten Used Terms

  1. WBS. When I came on board as a project manager I had no idea what a WBS was, or as some people called it phonetically, a wibbes. WBS stands for work breakdown structure, and is a hierarchal representation of work broken down into deliverables really defining the scope of the task.
  2. Milestones. Milestones are significant points in time or events on your schedule, sometimes represented with a black diamond icon. A best practice for project managers is to celebrate milestones for the significant achievements they are.

  3. Baseline. A project can fail or succeed according to the accuracy of its baseline. When the plan is approved by the change control board, it is important to baseline it as early as possible. Changes are always going to occur throughout a project to time, scope, budget and quality, but as long as you take those changes to a CCB to get approved, and rebaseline the project, it can make the difference between a failed or successful assignment.

  4. Triple Constraint. The twist of the triple constraint is that there are four components represented by a triangle, where time, cost and scope are balanced with the quality of the task. When changes to a component occur, i.e. when time is increased, it impacts at least one of the other components. Managing the triple constraint keeps your project on track.

  5. Project Lifecycle. There are many different types of project lifecycles. In the single phase lifecycle documented by PMI, initiating processes feed planning; once executing processes begin, monitoring and controlling processes occur. Once the task is completed, you hit your closing processes.

  6. Gantt Chart. A Gantt chart is a graphic display of the schedule and related information, not to be confused with the work breakdown structure (WBS) which includes dates and durations for task to be completed or deliverables to be produced.

  7. CCB. CCB stands for change control board, a group of stakeholder representatives from the stakeholder groups. They are the people designated in your project plan to have the authority to review and evaluate changes, and either approve or reject them. What I love about the CCB is that it takes the pressure off PMs. Many times project managers take this authority upon themselves to when it’s not for them to make these decisions; their responsibility is to have the processes in place for the changes to be fed to the change control board and to facilitate that process.

  8. Stakeholders. The stakeholders are people or organizations actively involved in and affected by the outcome of your assignment: customers, clients, vendor partners or other organizations. They can be positively or negatively affected by the execution of the project, so the project manager is there to assist them with what they need. They have a vested interest, are engaged and certainly don’t want things to negatively impact the project.

  9. Change Management. Managing change is not to be confused with change management, even though they sound similar. Change management is a project management plan that includes processes on who does what, when and where related to changes on a project. Its purpose is to control the scope. Managing change is typically associated with managing behaviors resulting from projects that infiltrate the corporation and trigger emotional behaviors. In order to prevent chaos when that kind of a project is executed, many organizations bring in help to do the communications and planning.

  10. Risk Mitigation versus Risk Management. Risk management is risk identification, which people are good at especially at the beginning of project, but it is just as important to have a mitigation strategy so that you know how to respond to risks associated with the rest of the project. If identified threats occur, and you are not prepared with a mitigation strategy it can take up too much time and cause the project to fail. For example, you may need resources or equipment that is not easy to access. The idea is to reduce the impact of risk if it does occur.

Jennifer Whitt, PMP is a speaker, trainer, Certified Performance Coach, author, and company president of She is a PMI-certified Project Management Professional (PMP) and knows how difficult it can be to make time for classroom or online learning so she has developed a new way for Project Managers to Earn n’ Learn while on the go. For more information, please visit

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