Project management, like every area of specialization, has its own technical language. For stakeholders who aren’t familiar with industry terminology, wading through project related documents and emails can be confusing and frustrating. The use of obscure jargon increases the likelihood of mis-communication, errors, and poor cooperation. This is especially true when those who don’t understand the terms being used are too embarrassed to ask for clarification because they believe this will make them look ignorant.
What’s The Solution?
The language used in project management circles is intended to increase the efficiency of communication – not decrease it. Having to explain or give a definition for every idiom is time consuming when you are trying to juggle multiple aspects of your managerial role. However, expecting everyone you work with to have read the latest edition of PMBOK is unrealistic. This means you need to find a way to make your technical language accessible to all stakeholders.
The easiest way to do this is by providing a glossary of commonly used terms. Ideally, this list should be compiled and included as an appendix to your WBS Dictionary. However, if your project does not require that level of documentation, you can still create a standalone glossary to enhance communication.
Take a look at your project scope statement and WBS with the assistance of an entry level employee in a different department. Together, you should be able to identify a number of words, phrases, and acronyms that would be unfamiliar to the layperson.
Getting the Words Out
There are several ways to distribute this document to project stakeholders. The simplest way might be to upload a pdf of the glossary to your organization’s intranet knowledge resource center. Then, you can include a link to it in communications with people inside your company.
For stakeholders who don’t have access to your organization’s private intranet site, including the glossary file as an email attachment might be helpful. You don’t have to do this in every email, just those that include references to terms the recipient might not understand. Passing out hard copies at the outset of a meeting is another good idea. The best time to provide this information is at the outset of a project so everyone is on the same page.
When You Need More Help
What if you need a really extensive glossary? Creating one yourself may be much more work than you need to take on when you are focused on getting your project rolling. Fortunately, there are many online resources (including this site) that already host a full project management glossary. Feel free to forward the link to our definition glossary to create better communication with your team and your project stakeholders. That’s what it’s here for!