Project Management Glossary


# A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z
There are 38 terms in this directory beginning with the letter S.
S-Curve analysis
An s-curve tracks cumulative financial or labor costs. S-Curve analysis is used to compare a project’s cumulative costs at any given point with a cumulative cost baseline created during the planning phase. It allows project managers and sponsors to assess performance and progress.

A comprehensive list of project activities and milestones in logical order, with start and finish dates for each component.

Schedule baseline
A schedule baseline is the original project schedule — approved by the project team, sponsor, and stakeholders — by which performance is assessed. Schedule baselines are generally inflexible, though alteration of a schedule baseline via a formal change control process may be allowed.

Schedule compression technique
A schedule compression technique speeds up projects without affecting scope by decreasing the duration of a project’s critical path. There are two main schedule compression techniques: crashing and fast tracking. (See also duration compression)

Schedule model
A logically arranged, time-based plan for project activities. It is used to create a project schedule.

Schedule model analysis
Schedule model analysis examines the project schedule created from a schedule model. It aims to optimize the schedule, usually via the use of scheduling software.

Schedule network analysis
Schedule network analysis uses a variety of techniques to identify early and late start and finish dates for project activities and thus to create project schedules.

Schedule performance index (SPI)
The ratio of earned value to planned value at a given point in time. It shows whether a project is running to schedule. An SPI lower than one indicates the project is behind schedule. An SPI higher than one indicates the project is ahead of schedule.

Schedule variance
Schedule variance is the difference between earned value and planned value at a given point in time.

Scientific management
Scientific management was an early attempt to bring scientific approaches to process management. Its earliest form was derived from a 1911 monograph by Frederick W. Taylor, who focused on increasing economic efficiency via the analysis and optimization of labor processes.

The scope of a project constitutes everything it is supposed to accomplish in order to be deemed successful.

Scope baseline
The set of requirements, expectations, and work packages approved as project deliverables. It is used to guide and assess project performance.

Scope change management
Scope change management deals with amendments to the scope as set in the scope baseline and project management plan. Since scope amendments typically affect cost and schedule estimates, scope change management involves revising estimates and adequately communicating these to stakeholders, as well as obtaining the resources necessary to fulfill new scope requirements.

Scope creep
Scope creep refers to gradual changes in project scope that occur without a formal scope change procedure. Scope creep is considered negative since unapproved changes in scope affect cost and schedule but do not allow complementary revisions to cost and schedule estimates.

Scrum is an iterative development procedure used in software development projects. Scrum-based projects focus on prioritizing requirements and working towards a clear set of goals over a set time period, called a sprint. The development team thus works through the list of requirements over a number of sprints. Scrum-based projects usually do not have project manager. Instead, the project team meets daily for progress updates.

Secondary risk
A risk created by a risk response.

Security in project management refers broadly to protecting humans, information, and resources from risk.

Six Sigma
An approach to process management that focuses on the near total elimination of product or service defects. It uses quality management methods to improve and optimize processes involved in the production of a product or service so that 99.99966 percent of process outcomes are defect-free.

Slack time
The length of time an activity's early start can be delayed without affecting project duration. (See also float)

Slip chart
A slip chart graphically compares predicted activity completion dates with originally planned completion dates.

The negative variance between planned and actual activity completion dates. Slippage may also refer to the general tendency of a project to be delayed beyond planned completion dates.

Soft project
A soft project does not have a physical output.

Software engineering
Software engineering is generally defined as the use of engineering principles in software development. It systematically employs scientific and technological approaches in the design, operation, and modification of software.

Spiral life cycle
An IT system’s development model that aims to learn from experience by drawing from both iterative development and the waterfall model. It has four sequential phases: identification, design, construction, and evaluation and risk analysis. At the end of each life cycle, an iteration is assessed by the customer, and the spiral sequence begins again upon receipt of customer feedback. The spiral model is typically used in long-term projects or those where requirements are expected to vary, and customer feedback is to be incorporated in phases.

A sponsor has ultimate authority over a project. They provide high-level direction, approve project funding as well as deviations from cost and budget, and determine project scope. Sponsors are typically members of the senior management and are expected to provide high-level support for a project.

In iterative project development, a sprint is a fixed unit of time during which the project typically passes through a complete development life cycle. A sprint is usually a few weeks long.

In project management, a Stakeholder is any party with an interest in the successful completion of a project. More generally, the term refers to anyone who is affected by a project. (See also project stakeholder)

A standard prescribes a collection of standardized rules, guidelines, and characteristics requirements for processes or products that are approved by a recognized body. Standards are not by definition mandatory. They are adopted by consensus, although they may be enforced as a requirement for participation in certain markets.

In a start-to-finish relationship, a successor activity cannot finish until a predecessor activity has started.

In a start-to-start relationship, a successor activity cannot start until a predecessor activity has started.

Statement of work (SoW)
A Statement of work is a comprehensive and detailed list of deliverables expected under a contract, with expected dates for each deliverable.

Steering committee
A steering committee provides high-level strategic guidance on a project. It typically comprises individuals from a number of stakeholder organizations and serves to provide consensus-based direction on projects with a large number or a diversity of stakeholders.

Story point
In sprint-based projects, a story point is a measure of the amount of work required to implement a particular user story. Assigning and totaling story points allows project teams to target a realistic number of user stories for action during an iteration or sprint.

Successor activity
In a schedule, a successor activity logically comes after and depends on an activity immediately preceding it.

Summary activity
In a network diagram, a summary activity combines a set of related activities and visually represents them as a single activity.

Sunk cost
A cost that cannot be recovered once spent.

Systems development life cycle (SDLC)
In systems engineering, the systems development life cycle is the process of creating, releasing, and maintaining an information system, which may comprise hardware, software, or both. The typical SDLC has six sequential phases: planning, analysis, design, implementation, testing, and maintenance.

Systems engineering
A field of engineering that applies principles of systems thinking to the development of complex systems. Since complex systems are more difficult to coordinate and make cohesive, systems engineering focuses on developing and optimizing systems as interactive wholes instead of sums of parts. As complex systems comprise both technical and human elements, systems engineering is, by nature, interdisciplinary.