33 Scheduling Terms
Making sure all stakeholders use the same terminology is crucial in all phases of project management, but it’s especially important when you are trying to get a group of diverse people to agree to a schedule. After all, a schedule only works as a form of communication if it is written in a language everyone understands. And since contract terms are often tied to schedule, a lack of common agreement on the meaning of specific terms in a schedule can have far-ranging effects.
Terminology is so important that many state governments around the United States publish their own project management glossaries. As you embark on a new project, you’d be wise to find out if the organization you work for, or the vendors you will be working with, have compiled such a glossary. If such organizational resources exist, use them as a starting point for your own project glossary. Otherwise, you can always turn to the Project Management Institute’s lexicon (available here: “PMI Lexicon of Project Management Terms”) or glossaries provided online by consulting firms or other project management resources such as the following:
Project Management Terms
The following definitions of scheduling-related terms are taken from a variety of sources.
- milestone: “A significant event in the project; usually completion of a major deliverable” (State of Michigan: Department of Technology, Management & Budget, 2013, p. 13). An important distinction is that a milestone is a zero-duration activity; e.g., “acceptance of software by client” is a milestone, preceded by many contributing activities.
- activity: “An element of work performed during the course of a project. An activity normally has an expected duration, an expected cost, and expected resource requirements” (Project-Management.com, 2016). Beware that some organizations subdivide activities into tasks while others use task and activity synonymously.
- duration: “The amount of time to complete a specific task given other commitments, work, vacations, etc. Usually expressed as workdays or workweeks” (State of Michigan: Department of Technology, Management & Budget, 2013, p. 9).
- resource: “Any personnel, material, or equipment required for the performance of an activity” (Project-Management.com, 2016).
- cost: “An expenditure, usually of money, for the purchase of goods or services” (Law, 2016).
- slack: “Calculated time span during which an event has to occur within the logical and imposed constraints of the network, without affecting the total project duration” (Project-Management.com, 2016). Or put more simply, slack, which is also called float, is the amount of time that a task can be delayed without causing a delay to subsequent tasks or the project’s overall completion date.
This chapter of Project Management is a derivative the following texts:
Essentials of Project Management by Adam Farag is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.