Published here September 2016

Introduction | What is Program Management? | GAPPS Program Typology
Distinctive Attributes of Projects, Programs, Portfolios
Is it a Program or a Project? | Summary and Conclusions

Summary and Conclusions

In the course of our project to update the Wideman Comparative Glossary of Project Management Terms (The Glossary) we have accumulated a number if findings as reported in this paper.

About the Glossary

  • The Glossary has not been significantly updated since the last available version for purchase, version 5.5 first issued in March 2012.
  • The Glossary database now has close to 7,000 entries.
  • In the interval since 2012 we have accumulated a further 400+ new terms.
  • A purge of the database has taken us nine months so far and has led us to delete 300+ entries
  • The Glossary is an excellent source of learning when you visit a particular definition and follow its associated links.

About the subject matter

  • Project Management can be viewed as a hierarchy of disciplines ranging from Governance at the top, down to Tools & Techniques.
  • Given the foregoing descriptions, we conclude that Program Management is a separate discipline in its own right.
  • Intermediate levels, i.e. Portfolio, Program and Project are generally clearly distinguishable.
  • Many authors of recent books on various aspects of project management, especially in the areas of portfolios and programs, have found the need to introduce new terms to suit their purpose.
  • Common agreement amongst project management practitioners of the best definition for some of these terms will take time.
  • In the meantime the "official" definition of some terms is no longer consistent with common usage. The definition of "Project Management" itself is a case in point.

Finally, thinking that all terms can be boiled down to a common definition, regardless of the environment, is a happy delusion.

Early in this paper we posed the question: How can we make our Wideman Comparative Glossary more useful in the next update?

Assuming that we have now settled some of the early issues, we can move on to other Glossary challenges. The definitions in the Glossary obviously span the whole gamut of project management Areas of Applications. But these number in the hundreds, if not thousands, far too many to be singled out individually. So some sort of high-level grouping needs to be devised. Many sources do group their identified Areas of Application, but even these numbers of groups are too many to handle in the Glossary.

How we solve this challenge will be written up in a separate paper when our updating of the database has got further advanced and reasonably tested.

Stay tuned — as they say.

R. Max Wideman

Is it a Program or a Project?   Is it a Program or a Project?

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