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Virginia H. Evans

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Arlene Buynak

IT Project Management

Project Management Glossary


Independent Verification & Validation
Independent Verification & Validation (IV&V) is the evaluation of project deliverables by an independent third party outside the development organization, to confirm they meet specified requirements (verification), and meet the needs of the intended target audience (validation). IV&V services are solicited and procured as needed for very high risk, complex, information technology projects.

Life Cycle Cost
Life Cycle Cost is a financial estimate designed to help the project manager and stakeholders value the direct and indirect costs associated with computing assets. Life-cycle costing considers the entire life-cycle of the information technology deployment including acquisition, implementation, operations, maintenance, and replacement. Life Cycle Cost is sometimes referred to as total cost of ownership.

Maintenance and Operational Activities
Activities undertaken in support of an existing product or service, will not be defined as projects for the purposes of this standard, so long as the bulk of the effort involves continuation, with improvement, to the current product or service. This may apply whether or not the activity involves significant cost or extensive procurement. For example, routine software upgrades and network component replacements are not necessarily projects. Utilization of project management principles and techniques in the management of maintenance and operational activities are encouraged, whether they are defined to be projects or not. "Projects and operations differ primarily in that operations are ongoing and produce repetitive products, services, or results. Projects (along with team members and often the opportunity) are temporary and end. Conversely, operations work is ongoing and sustains the organization over time. Operations work does not terminate when its current objectives are met but instead follow new directions to support the organization's strategic plans." (PMBOK)

A project is a temporary endeavor undertaken to create a unique product, service, or result (PMBOK).

What follows is guidance on whether an activity is a project or is an operational activity: *

  • One core distinction between these two is whether or not the activity is unique.
    • In general, unique activities are not repeated and thus not routine or operational in nature.
    • Although operational activities do not fall under the project management framework, the tools and techniques may and often do prove useful in performing those activities.
  • The following table helps demonstrate the differences between projects and operations.
IT Project Routine Operational Activity
Installing a new software application or a full version upgrade Installing maintenance patches of .x ("point") releases
Redoing the campus network infrastructure Replacing failed network equipment
Creating a new technology-enabled classroom Adding or removing a software application from the classroom software build

Exclusion: Research Projects, Research Initiatives, and Instructional Programs
In accordance with University policy, research projects, research initiatives, and instructional programs are excluded from this project definition. The guidance provided on this website does not attempt to address unique aspects of those endeavors.

Project Leader
May or may not be the same individual in the role of project manager. If not the same individual, the project leader is responsible for the projects vision and for enabling, developing, challenging, and inspiring the project team.

Project Manager
An individual with professional credentials and/or project management training or experience, responsible for achieving the project goals and objectives. See Project Manager Selection & Training.

Project Plan
The Project Plan is a document that explains what is going to be accomplished in the project, who will perform the work, when the work will be started/completed, how information will be communicated, what the process is for managing change, what is the criteria for project acceptance, etc. The plan is developed with input from the project team and stakeholders.

Project Document Repository
The collection of all project documentation (e.g., forms, project plan, checklists, etc.) for the entire project life cycle.

The person or group responsible for starting or scoping the project and project team. The sponsor removes roadblocks, provides resources, in cash or in kind, and gets help for the team when necessary. The sponsor is usually not a "member" of the project team and may only occasionally attend meetings. The sponsor intervenes if they believe the project team has gotten off-track, or are working on goals inconsistent with the project scope.

A stakeholder is a person or organization (e.g., customer, sponsor, performing organization, or the public) that is actively involved in the project, or whose interests may be positively or negatively affected by execution or completion of the project. A stakeholder may also exert influence over the project and its deliverables (A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK).

  • Examples of stakeholders: project manager, project team members, business unit manager, impacted population (students, faculty, staff), help desk.

* The information was derived from George Mason University's definition of a project.

Steering Committee
The Steering Committee is a group of project stakeholders with the responsibility of reviewing the analysis of change requests, making an implementation decision, and documenting that decision.