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Five commonly confused project management terms and what they really mean

Like any industry, project management has its own language. For example, a wine taster may describe a wine as chewy. To most of us this sounds ridiculous, yet all it means is the taste of the wine is not overwhelmed by tannins. And in the shipping industry, box is a common term for what most of us call a container.

These are examples of jargon, which can be defined as particular words or expressions used by a profession or group that may not be commonly understood by people outside of that group.

We’re often encouraged to avoid jargon. But, used correctly, it helps us communicate in a way that is precise and efficient. If two wine tasters are confident they both understand what they mean when they say chewy, it’s perfectly OK for them to use it.

So, to help you communicate with confidence with your project management peers, we’ve explained what five commonly confused project management terms really mean.

1. Outputs

At its simplest an output is what you do.

It can also be described as the immediate result you see from a single activity. Outputs show what your project produces but don’t show what difference, if any, this makes.

For example, an event you stage is an output, as is the number of people who attend the event.

Outcomes are the change in circumstances or behaviour that happen as a result of your outputs. They describe the difference your project makes in the long term.

So, looking at the event above, an outcome for your project would be a measurable change in behaviour because of what people who attended the event learned.

The key to measuring the success of your projects is how well you can link your outputs to outcomes. With Verto this is easy. You can find out why here.

3. Risk

Risk is used to describe what on a project has the potential to go wrong. For example, if the price of something you need for your project goes up, that can have an impact on the project as a whole. You will then need to take action to keep the impact to a minimum.

The key word here is ‘if’, as the price may not rise and your project may not face that particular risk. Then you won’t need to take any action.

Part of managing a project well is understanding all the risks it faces and having plans in place to deal with them if they happen. Verto makes this easy. Click here to find out how.

4. Stakeholder

A stakeholder is anyone who has an interest in a project or who could be affected by its outcomes. As a result, a project’s stakeholders can be diverse and include, for example, people working on the project, people funding the project, government agencies, partner agencies, people living in an area where a project is operating, people using a specific service the project will affect.

The key to working well with your project’s stakeholders is communication. Verto’s instant messaging tool is just one of the ways Verto makes it easy for you to effectively communicate with a wide group of people.

5. Transparent

In terms of project management, transparent means open to scrutiny. When the tasks and responsibilities of everyone involved are clear and available for all to see, a project can be described as transparent. This is particularly important when a project involves, for example, a wide group of stakeholders or public money.

We designed Verto to make it easy for people to work together on one platform and share information. Exactly what you need to support transparent working.

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About the author – Laura Watts

Laura is the Marketing Manager at TMI Systems Ltd., working predominantly on Verto 365 and closely on the Microsoft partnership enabling the platform to be used in its entirety from Microsoft Teams. Laura and her family moved from London in 2021 and now live and work in Gloucestershire.