Why is a common project management language important?


Why is a common project management language important?



I was out cycling recently when I was reminded why a common language is vital for projects to run smoothly. What has cycling to do with projects? Without boring you by relating the journey to a project – start, end etc. – I will get to the point.

In my cycling I find that hills are particularly challenging. That’s why the people who I was cycling with, tried to help me as we started up a long hill that got steeper towards the top. (Remind you of some projects?) One said I should change down the gears to make it easier, then having done this, someone else came alongside and said I should change up a gear. No sooner than I did so and I was told I had gone the wrong way! It certainly made going uphill harder. Does this sound more and more like your projects?

Anyway having struggled up the hill feeling very confused I raised it at the next stop for a drink. It turned out that going up or down the gears can mean different things depending on the situation and how the person views it! This got me thinking and it is the same in projects. If I refer to a positive variance on cost does this mean I have added to the planned cost or is it a positive effect on the project i.e. reduced costs of the project? Similarly, if an instruction is given can it be misinterpreted to create an issue in the project?

Communication is the biggest risk in projects and this simple story is a reminder to check that other people in your project understand what you have said in the way you meant it. Agreeing common terminology within the project or organisation is a good first step to this. CUPE International can help to tailor terminology (and methods) to suit your organisation. If you prefer to use standard method terminology we can help by providing method training. Contact the team at CUPE on +44 (0) 1202 555 733 or use this contact form.