7 Important Project Management Terms Every PMP Aspirant Must Know

Though many of us has lot of experience in managing the projects, it is very essential to understand some of the basic project management terms in order to prepare for the PMP exam.

In this post, we will deep dive into some of the basic and fundamental project management terms from PMI perspective.

Project Management Terms

By now, you might have created your PMP Study plan concretely. If you have not started yet on PMP study plan, please read through my recent blog post for the Step by step Tutorial to create your own PMP study plan, which best suites your needs.

Project Management Terms

We will look at the following project management terms…

  1. What is a project?
  2. What are operations?
  3. Understand what a program is?
  4. What is a portfolio?
  5. Characteristics of a project manager
  6. Organizational Project Management (OPM) & OPM3
  7. Project Governance

What is a project?

A project is a temporary endeavor with a beginning and an end

A project will kick start, when you decide what you are going to do, and end when you obtain the outputs that fulfill the project expectations.

Sometimes, project may get terminated for specific unfortunate reasons.

Creates a unique product, service, or result

The output(s) of a project could be a product or service or result, which are unique.

Progressively elaborated

In the beginning of the project you will know what to achieve in very high level.

And as project progresses you would get to know more detailed information on the project and make certain decisions to help achieve project goals successfully.

So projects are always progressively elaborated.

What are Operations?

Operations are always ongoing work.

Operations are ongoing work to support the business and systems of the organization. There is no specific end to operations unlike the case with projects.

When project is completed, it is handed over to operations. And any new changes or features or business requirements will again trigger a project.

If there are bugs to be fixed after handing over to operations, these are treated as operations, as it is ongoing work.

Understand what a program is?

A group of related projects are termed as a program.

The program approach focuses on the inter dependencies between the projects and may help to

  • reduce risk
  • promote re-usability and get financial benefits
  • achieve easy and efficient co-ordination between projects running under a program

In addition to the project cost, if the project is handled as part of a program then cost will be included for program management activities.

It does not make sense to include a project into a program, if does not achieve any benefit at program level.

What is Portfolio Management?

A portfolio comprises of a group of programs, projects and other operational work, which may or may not be inter related.

However combining them into a portfolio would benefit the organization to achieve its strategic goals and objectives.

Eventually, managing the group of projects and/or programs at portfolio level, would have common policies and governance structure, to achieve organization strategic objectives.

NOTE: The overall and end objective of this classification of portfolios, programs, projects is to “achieve organizational strategic goals”. This means any changes to the organizational strategy may impact projects, programs, portfolios and other operational work in the organization.

Characteristics of a Project Manager

Essentially, PMBOK guide provides handful of processes to deal with the common project problems.

However all of these processes will not help, if the project manager does not have the following characteristics.


Project manager should be proactive, to learn from others mistakes and others success. Project manager should be matured enough to know what is happening in other projects of organization as well as what is happening in the industry, pertaining to the project management.


Project manager is primarily responsible and accountable for delivery. So focusing on the team to deliver the project’s output should be the prime focus of a project manager.

Personal Skills

Eventually, project manager has to deal with people in day-to-day work. So he/she need to understand what motivates the team and maintain good professional relations with the team and help keep the team focus on actual work all the time.

Organizational Project Management (OPM) & OPM3

Organizational Project Management (OPM)

OPM is an organizational framework which provides direction on how these portfolios, programs and projects should be categorized, prioritized, managed and measured in order to achieve organization strategic goals and objectives.


OPM3 is PMI’s organizational project management maturity model. This model is designed to help assess organizations to determine their level of maturity in project management.

Project Governance

The project governance is a process of defining certain rules, policies and procedures in order make sure all the projects achieve organization strategic goals. Project governance will drive action points to various stakeholders of the projects to achieve organization strategic goals.


These project management terms forms a basic foundation to start preparing for the rest of the PMP Study material.

Firstly, we have seen what the primary differences are between projects and operations are.

Project has a specific start and end, and the output is unique. Operations are continuous, ongoing, day-to-day work.

Also we have seen why organizations will have project, program and portfolios – Organizations will initiate projects to meet a business need or market need or to meet its strategical objectives.

Also we learned that a group of related projects are termed as program.

And programs are created only when there are any shared benefits between the projects.

Eventually portfolio is a group of projects and/or programs to achieve organizational strategic objectives.

We also have seen the characteristics of an efficient project manager.

Finally we have learned the semantics of some of the project management terms such as OPM, OPM3 and project governance and how these project management terms relate to projects.

Also please read through my recent blog post on Types of Organizations the project managers should aware of. also which type of organizations favors the project managers


All these project management terms are very essential for further preparation of your PMP.

I hope you have enjoyed reading this post. Please drop me a comment if you have any query or any feedback.

Please rate this article. It will help me to improve the content in this blog further.

One Response to “7 Important Project Management Terms Every PMP Aspirant Must Know”
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