The world of project management is large and, in many cases, complicated. If you’re involved in project portfolio management, you’ll probably run into plenty of acronyms and abbreviations: PPM, PMO, and so on. But what do they actually mean? Once you’ve got the basics under your belt, you’ll probably find that identifying new acronyms and understanding what they mean becomes a lot simpler. We’ve broken down some of the most common project management, PPM, and PMO acronyms you might encounter to help you get started.


17 Common Project Management Acronyms to Know

Avoid confusion and communicate your goals in clear, simple terms with these common PPM acronyms. 

1. PPM – Project Portfolio Management

This first of the acronyms, PPM, simply refers to project portfolio management. We often talk about PPM software (to replace “project portfolio management software,” because it’s always a bit long to write). Sciforma is, for example, a PPM software that allows you to prioritize, select, and monitor a set of projects (project portfolio). PPM can also be used to designate the Project Portfolio Manager.

2. PM – Project Manager

Someone known as a PM is likely a project manager or the person in charge of planning, managing, and executing different projects.

3. PMI – Project Management Institute

The Project Management Institute is a professional organization centered around – you guessed it – PPM. It creates standards and resources for PPM professionals. The PMI also offers certifications for project managers looking to enhance their skills.

4. PMBOK®  – Project Management Body of Knowledge

The Project Management Body of Knowledge was created by the Project Management Institute and contains a set of guidelines and terminology for PPM teams. More specifically, the PMBOK Guide outlines specific project management methodologies, like the work breakdown structure (WBS) or the critical path method (CPM).

5. PMP – Project Management Professional

This is a certification that project managers can seek through the Project Management Institute. Organizations around the world recognize the PMP, considering it the “gold standard.”

6. CAPM – Certified Associate in Project Management

Another certification issued by the PMI is the Certified Associate in Project Management (CAPM) title. Having a CAPM certification means that a person has a solid understanding of the fundamental terms, practices, and processes behind effective project management. However, this certification isn’t quite as comprehensive as the PMP.

7. PMO – Project Management Office

The PMO acronym stands for Project Management Office (or Project Management Officer, sometimes even Portfolio Management Office). Accordingly, it is the department or person responsible for managing projects at the portfolio level.

Among other tasks, the PMO sets project management standards, ensures strategic alignment of launched projects, oversees the general health of the portfolio, and manages information reporting and centralization.

8. EPMO – Enterprise Project Management Office

The Enterprise Project Management Office is, perhaps unsurprisingly, an enterprise-level project management team or group. In particular, EPMOs often benefit companies with an international reach that manage projects on a larger scale.

The EPMO supervises and supports the PMO network and ensures that each department follows the same standards. Many companies that have a PMO have also established an EPMO. To learn how to make the strategic change from PMO to EPMO, watch this webinar with PMI author and industry thought leader Andy Jordan.

9. PGMO – Program Management Office

The Program Management Office is a department that has substantially the same functions as a PMO. However, instead of managing project portfolios, it manages program portfolios, ensuring their overall achievement and alignment with company strategy.

In very large companies, PMOs may be placed within another project management acronym: PgMOs.

10. PPMO – Project Portfolio Management Office

The Project Portfolio Management Office will bring together projects and program portfolios. Similar to the PMO mentioned before, this is a very large-scale management force that will be implemented within companies that have a high degree of maturity in project management. The PPMO must ensure that projects, portfolios and programs meet the objectives of the business.

11. PRINCE2 – Projects in Controlled Environments

This project management technique centers around a project team’s structure, guiding project teams through seven basic steps:

  • Starting the project
  • Initiating the project
  • Directing the project
  • Implementing control stages
  • Managing the product’s delivery
  • Managing the stage boundary
  • Closing and completing the project

12. SOW – Statement of Work

A statement of work is just what it sounds like: a written document that outlines the work that will go into a project. SOWs describe the project’s activities, deliverables, and ideal schedule. PPM offices or contractors might create an SOW to clearly describe a project and make sure everyone agrees on expectations and the work that needs to be done.

13. CPM – Critical Path Method

The critical path method is a traditional project management tool that helps PMOs visualize and model the work they need to do.

A project manager first lists all of the work that needs to be completed and then records the estimated time and dependencies for each individual task. From there, they can take a look at the entire process that will go into the project, making changes or notes as needed.

14. PERT – Program Evaluation Review Technique

Another traditional project management method is PERT, which also creates a visual representation of a project’s life cycle. The PERT specifically aims to determine and calculate how much time it will take to complete a task or activity.

A PERT chart looks like a flowchart, but it lists the steps that have to be completed for the project in the necessary order, along with their time requirements.

15. SWOT Analysis

A SWOT analysis is not a PPM technique but a decision-making tool that project managers can use to evaluate their needs and make informed choices. The acronym SWOT stands for:

  • Strengths
  • Weaknesses
  • Opportunities
  • Threats

16. WBS – Work Breakdown Structure

A work breakdown structure includes fundamental components of a project—like its goals, deliverables, stakeholders, etc.—and organizes them in a hierarchy. PMOs can use work breakdown structures to take a look at a project’s structure and identify dependencies.

17. SMART Goals

The term “SMART goals” is often used in PPM when teams outline their milestones and begin to develop a project plan. Using SMART goals helps PMOs think carefully about how to manage tasks and creates realistic expectations for everyone involved. SMART stands for:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Achievable
  • Realistic
  • Time-bound


Boost Your Project Management Intel with Sciforma

Sciforma is your top source for project portfolio management software and resources. Brush up on your PPM skills, more PMO acronyms, and overall knowledge by checking out our e-book Project and Portfolio Management Fundamentals. Count on Sciforma to give you the tools you need to successfully plan and execute your projects, no matter your experience level or goals.

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