Project Terms

Terminology Used in IT Projects at WWU


  • A milestone is a reference point marking a significant step or event in the course of a project, typically on the critical path
  • Milestones are frequently used as checkpoints to mark and assess progress


  • Activity to accomplish an outcome or step towards a strategic initiative
  • A project delivers a desired quantifiable result within a specified budget according to schedule
  • Once a project's goal is met and the specified result is delivered, the project is complete and ends
  • Projects involve a team (not an individual activity)
  • They are unique activities--not routine or ongoing operations
  • They have a defined beginning, a list of deliverables, and an end
  • The end product must have the potential or capability to add defined business benefit
  • Project begins with approval of scope/schedule/resources and ends with acceptance and closing

Project Manager

  • Project managers manage and track the execution of a project
  • They work with the project sponsor and key participants to ensure the project is clearly defined, the goals are understood, the resources are sufficient and the timeline is achievable before the project is launched
  • They establish the sequence of required steps
  • They coordinate the resources and track and communicate progress towards goals
  • They provide recommendations and escalate changes and threats to the scope, schedule or resources of the project to the project sponsor
  • They ensure project goals are met
  • They transition delivered solutions to long term owner/support

Project Participants

  • Perform one or more tasks in support of a project
  • May or may not attend project meetings or be regular members of a project team

Project Sponsor

  • Project sponsor defines and supports, project managers execute
  • A project should have only one sponsor (multiple sponsors = conflicting definitions and direction) but may have many stakeholders
  • A project sponsor should be at a sufficiently high level to obtain the necessary resources and organizational commitment and to handle project-related negotiations and business decisions.
  • A project sponsor negotiates agreement on the scope with key stakeholders and has the final say on project scope and objectives
  • A project sponsor defines the boundaries  of the project
    • What is to be done
    • By what time
    • With what resources
    • Why it is necessary and what it is in support of
    • What will happen after the project is complete (long term support, funding, and ownership)
  • Project sponsors obtain necessary funding and resources
  • Project sponsors work with the project manager to understand proposed changes to the scope, schedule, or resources for a project, and approve such changes
  • Project sponsors handle escalations and challenges to the project
  • Project sponsors approve the project launch and confirm that the project goals have been met upon project completion


  • Stakeholders have a vested interest in the outcome of a project and a voice in project scope and objectives
  • They are consulted by the project sponsor on project scope and scope changes related to their area of interest
  • They are informed about project progress by the project manager or sponsor
  • They contribute project requirements and expectations
  • They generally can allocate resources and set priorities/speak on behalf of their organization


  • A definable step or activity to be completed usually by one person or group
  • Projects are comprised of a series of tasks