Introduction:

Project Management like law has its own special vocabulary. Even if you're a native speaker of English, if you're not used to the words/phrases, it's sometimes difficult to understand their meaning. And if you're a non-native speaker of English, it's 10 times worse.

In this online exercise on projects, we will look at common words and expressions used in business English to talk about the lifecycle of a project (its full length) and other project management vocabulary.

Click here to see more online exercises on project management and project vocabulary


Exercise: An initial project overview meeting

Read the following internal meeting between a director and a project manager who is having a project passed/handed over to him.

From the context, try to guess what the meaning of the words/phrases in bold are. Then do the quiz at the end to check if you are right.

Director:'Hi John, take a seat. Do you know much about the project?'

Project Manager:'Hi Peter. I know a little about it.'

Director:'Well, I'll tell you about it now. The main purpose of the project is to incorporate the existing TB Management Application into the TB Office Application. The scope is very large, it's an essential application for the company and it will be used for the whole company across the world.

Because we don't want to risk bringing down the whole computer system, the roll out will be done in stages. First, in the UK and Holland, then in the rest of Europe, then the rest of the world. We've done the business case, how much we predict it will cost and how much money we expect to save when it's being used. Now, it's with the Board of Directors, waiting for their sign off. But that's just a formality, we'll have the confirmation of the project in a couple of days. Do you have any questions?'

Project Manager:'Yes, what are the deliverables?'

Director:'Just the incorporation of the app into main office application and some new report and statistical functions.'

Project Manager:'I suppose that a risk analysis has been carried out. What are the main risks if it's rolled out and doesn't work?'

Director:'Well, the worst case scenario is that the company's main office application won't work. That's why the roll out will be in different phases. But we doubt anything so severe will happen.'

Project Manager:'What will the budget for the project be?'

Director:'About $3.5 million. I know it's not a lot, but because of the crisis, there are constraints on spending. We can't spend like we used to. There's also a time constraint, it needs to be up and running in 9 months. That's if everything goes according to plan. And as you know nothing ever does!'

Project Manager:'It does seem challenging.'


Quiz: Vocabulary for project management overviews

Below is a definition/description of each of the words/phrases in bold from the above text. Now fill in the blanks with one of these words/phrases in bold. Only use one word/phrase once and write it as it is in the text. Click on the "Check Answers" button at the bottom of the quiz to check your answers.

When the answer is correct, two icons will appear next to the question. The first is an Additional Information Icon "". Click on this for extra information on the word/phrase and for a translation. The second is a Pronunciation Icon "". Click on this to listen to the pronunciation of the word/phrase and to do a pronunciation speaking test.

1. Another way to say that something has been implemented correctly and is working, is    

         

Up and running:
(phrase) A very commonly used phrase in business English to say that something is working ok. In Spanish: "estar funcionamiento".

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Up and running:

Pronunciation Speaking Test:
To check your pronunciation of this word/phrase, first click on the microphone icon () below. Then allow the browser to record your voice and then say the above word/phrase. Although this test is good, it sometimes does not recognise some of the words/phrases.

       

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2. Another way to say 'implementation', is    

         

Roll out:
(noun) This is another way to say 'launch', although 'roll out' is more frequently used with processes and IT projects. This can also be used as a verb, e.g. "to roll out" In Spanish: "lanzamiento".

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Roll out:

Pronunciation Speaking Test:
To check your pronunciation of this word/phrase, first click on the microphone icon () below. Then allow the browser to record your voice and then say the above word/phrase. Although this test is good, it sometimes does not recognise some of the words/phrases.

       

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3. The actual objects/services that a project will provide at the end, are    

         

Deliverables:
(noun) This word is very common in project English. It basically means the end product of a project. In Spanish: "entregables".

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Deliverables:

Pronunciation Speaking Test:
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4. The amount of money given to do a project, is called the    

         

Budget:
(noun) This is very common in business English. Be careful with 'budget', it is also used as an adjective to mean 'cheap', e.g. 'RyanAir ia a budget airline'. In Spanish: "presupuesto".

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Budget:

Pronunciation Speaking Test:
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5. When you are very confident something will be approved, you say    

         

Just a formality:
(phrase) It is a very common expression. It is often used to calm people down who are worrying about approval on something (e.g. loan) or on a decision (e.g. a visa or project). In Spanish: "no es más que una formalidad".

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Just a formality:

Pronunciation Speaking Test:
To check your pronunciation of this word/phrase, first click on the microphone icon () below. Then allow the browser to record your voice and then say the above word/phrase. Although this test is good, it sometimes does not recognise some of the words/phrases.

       

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6. A formal way to say 'limits', is    

         

Constraints:
(noun) A very formal way to say 'limitation' or 'restriction'. In Spanish: "restricción".

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Constraints:

Pronunciation Speaking Test:
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7. A report/study that examines the possible problems a project could cause, is    

         

Risk analysis:
(noun phrase) This is always carried out before a project is started or approved. In Spanish: "analisis del riesgo".

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Risk analysis:

Pronunciation Speaking Test:
To check your pronunciation of this word/phrase, first click on the microphone icon () below. Then allow the browser to record your voice and then say the above word/phrase. Although this test is good, it sometimes does not recognise some of the words/phrases.

       

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8. Another way to say 'to go well', is    

         

Goes according to plan:
(phrase) It is very common in business English. It is basically the same as saying 'goes as it should'. The phrase generally follows 'if everything', e.g. 'if everything goes according to plan, it will be finished by next week'. In Spanish: "todo sale como esta previsto ".

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Goes according to plan:

Pronunciation Speaking Test:
To check your pronunciation of this word/phrase, first click on the microphone icon () below. Then allow the browser to record your voice and then say the above word/phrase. Although this test is good, it sometimes does not recognise some of the words/phrases.

       

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9. A report/study that examines if a project is financially beneficial for a company, is    

         

Business case:
(noun phrase) This is always carried out to justify doing a project. It compares the financial cost to the financial return of doing a project. In Spanish: "un caso comercial".

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Business case:

Pronunciation Speaking Test:
To check your pronunciation of this word/phrase, first click on the microphone icon () below. Then allow the browser to record your voice and then say the above word/phrase. Although this test is good, it sometimes does not recognise some of the words/phrases.

       

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10. Another way to say 'approval', is    

         

Sign off:
(noun) This is a more neutral way of saying 'approval'. It's very commonly used in business, it means that senior management approve something. It is also a verb, 'to sign off'. In Spanish: "aprobación".

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Sign off:

Pronunciation Speaking Test:
To check your pronunciation of this word/phrase, first click on the microphone icon () below. Then allow the browser to record your voice and then say the above word/phrase. Although this test is good, it sometimes does not recognise some of the words/phrases.

       

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11. Another way to say 'the worst possible situation', is    

         

Worst case scenario:
(phrase) It is very common in business English and means the worst thing that could happen. In Spanish: "escenario más desfavorable".

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Worst case scenario:

Pronunciation Speaking Test:
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12. A different way to say 'overall size' and 'purpose' when talking about a project, is    

         

Scope:
(noun) It is very common in project English. It's a combination of the overall size and the aim/purpose of a project, e.g. 'the scope of the project will be to replace the existing equipment in the whole of Europe'. In Spanish: "ambitó".

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Scope:

Pronunciation Speaking Test:
To check your pronunciation of this word/phrase, first click on the microphone icon () below. Then allow the browser to record your voice and then say the above word/phrase. Although this test is good, it sometimes does not recognise some of the words/phrases.

       

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Practice

Now that you understand the new project management vocabulary, practise it by creating your own sentences in English with the new words/phrases.