IPMA International Project Management Association
12 December 2018 / 9:00

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.




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Reinhard Wagner

Author of this post

Reinhard Wagner has been active for more than 30 years in the field of project- related leadership, in such diverse sectors as Air Defense, Automotive Engineering, and Machinery, as well as various not-for-profit organizations. As a Certified Projects Director (IPMA Level A), he has proven experience in managing projects, programmes and project portfolios in complex and dynamic contexts. He is also an IPMA Certified Programme and Portfolio Management Consultant, and as such supports senior executives in developing and improving their organizational competence in managing projects. For more than 15 years, he has been actively involved in the development of project, programme and portfolio management standards, for example as Convenor of the ISO 21500 “Guidance on Project Management” and the ISO 21503 “Guidance on Programme Management”. Reinhard Wagner is Past President of IPMA and Chairman of the Council, Honorary Chairman of GPM (the German Project Management Association), as well as Managing Director of Tiba Managementberatung GmbH.