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Vocabulary ISO/TR 21506 published


The International Organization for Standardization (ISO) through its Technical Committee (TC) 258 “Project, programme and portfolio management” recently has published the ISO/TR 21506 “Project, programme and portfolio management – Vocabulary”. It describes terms that are used in documents authored by ISO/TC 258, and that meet any of the following criteria, in that they are:

  • specific terms used in project, programme and portfolio management;
  • part of common language, but used with a specific and exclusive meaning in the context;
  • found in ISO recognized dictionaries, but do not have an adequate definition that fits the usage for the context.

Whereas International Standard (IS) provides rules, guidelines or characteristics for activities or for their results, aimed at achieving the optimum degree of order in a given context, a Technical Report (TR) contains information of a different kind from that of International Standards and Technical Specifications (TS). It may include data obtained from a survey, for example, or from an informative report, or information of the perceived “state of the art ”.

The 90 definitions of ISO/TR 21506 complement the terms and definitions included in ISO 21500:2012, ISO 21503:2017, ISO 21504:2015, ISO 21505:2017, ISO 21508:2018 and ISO 21511:2018. The report defines terms that may be used in the field of project, programme and portfolio management by any type of organization, including public or private, and any size or sector, as well as any type of project, programme or portfolio in terms of complexity, size or duration. While the individual glossaries for governance as well as portfolio, programme and project management standards provide clarity in terms, a common vocabulary reveals that a term may be understood within the context in which the term is used. According to ISO/TR 21506, the context may be categorized as “activity sectors” (e.g. Construction, IT, Defence), “management discipline” (e.g. Project, Programme and Portfolio Management) and “subject areas” (e.g. Governance, Quality, Risk).

The ISO/TR 21506 is available via ISO Online browsing platform (https://www.iso.org/obp), which – in general - allows to preview ISO standards, graphical symbols, codes or terms and definitions before purchase, search within documents and easily navigate between standards. The report may help to harmonize terminology and align standards across countries, standards bodies and the profession.