Glossary of Terms for Investment Planning and Project Management, Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat

Date modified: 2014-08-19
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Many words and phrases used in this glossary have a special meaning in the context of investment planning and project management in the public service. This glossary defines the most frequently used words and phrases.

Italicized terms within definitions are defined in this document.

This glossary is maintained by the Investment and Project Management Policy Division of the Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat.


Acquired services (services acquis)
Services obtained through formal arrangements, such as contracts, memoranda of understanding and letters of agreement, to support internal or external clients or stakeholders in achieving specific outcomes.
Budget request (demande de budget)
Could include any formal securing of funds at a proposal stage. It should reflect the maturity of the proposal. A budget request is inclusive of all project costs and any other funds being sought for the initiative.
Business case (analyse de rentabilisation)
Typically, a presentation or proposal to an authority by an organization seeking funding, approval or both for an activity, initiative or project that identifies and explores options and develops recommendations for the proposed investment.
Capital assets (immobilisations)
Tangible assets that are purchased, constructed, developed or otherwise acquired and that:
  1. Are held for use in the production or supply of goods, the delivery of services or to produce program outputs;
  2. Have a useful life extending beyond one fiscal year and are intended to be used on a continuing basis; and
  3. Are not intended for resale in the ordinary course of operations.
For the purpose of this definition, tangible capital assets include computer software.
Change control (contrôle des changements)
The process of identifying, documenting, approving or rejecting, and controlling changes to the project.
Complexity (apparent) (complexité apparente)
The degree to which a system or component has a design or implementation that is difficult to understand and verify.
Complexity (inherent) (complexité inhérente)
The degree of complication of a system or system component, determined by such factors as the number and intricacy of interfaces, the number and intricacy of conditional branches, the degree of nesting, and the types of data structures.
Contracting authority (autorité contractante)
The Government Contracts Regulations defines contracting authority as follows:
  1. the appropriate Minister, as defined in paragraph (a), (a.1) or (b) of the definition appropriate Minister in section 2 of the Financial Administration Act;
  2. a department within the meaning of paragraph (a.1) of the definition of “department” in section 2 of the Financial Administration Act that has the legal authority to enter into a contract;
  3. a departmental corporation named in Schedule II to the Financial Administration Act;
  4. any individual—other than a commissioner appointed under the Inquiries Act and any individual authorized under the Parliament of Canada Act to enter into a contract—who is authorized by or under an Act of Parliament to enter into a contract.
In addition to this definition, a contracting authority is defined as follows:
  • An employee or an individual acting on behalf of an appropriate minister as set out in paragraphs (a), (a.1) or (b) of the definition of an appropriate minister in the Financial Administration Act;
  • An employee or an individual acting on behalf of a departmental corporation named in Schedule II of the Financial Administration Act; or
  • A legal agent of a contracting authority.
Commercial off-the-shelf; commercially available products that can be purchased and integrated with little or no customization.
Expenditure authority (autorisation de dépenser)
Expenditure authority provides the specific authority to expend resources against a defined set of deliverables. It is to be sought from the appropriate governance level (e.g., project review committee, deputy head, minister or the Treasury Board). It must be secured prior to the expenditure of project resources. Expenditure authority may be sought for the total cost of the project, or any phase thereof, once fully defined and the cost estimates refined to the substantive level. It is distinct from project approval.
Indicative cost estimate (estimation indicative)
An estimate of sufficient quality and reliability to support a request for project approval. An indicative estimate is expected to:
  • Reflect a reasonable preliminary definition of scope, performance objective(s), and schedule
  • Take into consideration preliminary consultations with stakeholders;
  • Identify assumptions that could have a significant impact on the financial requirements and explain the potential impacts;
  • Be based on a stated source of data that is reliable (such as industry standards or historical data); and
  • Include a preliminary assessment of risk and potential risk-mitigation strategies.
Infrastructure (infrastructure)
The basic physical and organizational structures and facilities (e.g., buildings, roads, power supplies) needed for the operation of a society or enterprise. Examples are highways and roads, bridges and overpasses, water supply systems, wastewater treatment facilities, and sanitary and storm sewers.
Interdepartmental agreement (accord interministériel)
An arrangement concluded between the sponsoring department and a participating department (including the contracting authority) that documents specific roles and responsibilities in support of a particular project.
Investment (investissement)
The use of resources with the expectation of a future return, such as an increase in output, income or assets, or the acquisition of knowledge or capacity.
Investment planning (planification des investissements)
The process of allocating and reallocating limited resources, within departmental reference levels for both existing and new assets and acquired services, in a diligent and rational manner to support program outcomes and government priorities.
Investment portfolio (portefeuille d’investissement)
A collection of projects and/or programs grouped together to facilitate effective management to meet strategic business objectives. The projects or programs of the investment portfolio may not necessarily be interdependent or directly related.
Investment program (programme d’investissement)
A group of related projects managed in a coordinated way to obtain benefits and control not available from managing them individually. Investment programs may include elements of related work outside the scope of the discrete projects in the program.
Life cycle of an investment (cycle de vie d’un investissement)
The life cycle of an investment, be it assets or acquired services, consists of all activities required in support of its development, acquisition, sustainment and operations, and its eventual disposal or close-out.
Management of projects (gestion des projets)
Encompasses the structure (framework) within which projects are initiated, planned, executed, controlled and closed.
Methodology (méthodologie)
A system of practices, techniques, procedures and rules used by those who work in a discipline.
Performance parameters (paramètres de rendement)
The actual approved quantity and technical and operational characteristics of the end item (e.g., equipment, facility), as well as any quality aspects it should reflect. Performance parameters are a key project objective.
Performance reports (rapports sur le rendement)
Documents and presentations that provide organized and summarized work performance information and analyses of project work progress and status.
Phase (phase)
Phases are the top-level breakdown of the project. Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat uses the following four phases of the project management life cycle: initial planning and identification, project definition, project implementation, and project close-out. Note that departments are free to establish their own phase structure and nomenclature.
Public-private partnership (partenariat public-privé)
Public-private partnerships (P3s) are a long-term performance-based approach to procuring public infrastructure where the private sector assumes a major share of the risks in terms of financing and construction and ensuring effective performance of the infrastructure, from design and planning to long-term maintenance.
Program (programme)
Any group of resources and activities, and their related direct outputs, undertaken pursuant to a given objective or set of related objectives and administered by a department or agency of the government. Distinguished from a project, which has a specific objective, activity, beginning and end, a program may include various projects at various times.
Project (projet)
An activity or series of activities that has a beginning and an end. A project is required to produce defined outputs and realize specific outcomes in support of a public policy objective, within a clear schedule and resource plan. A project is undertaken within specific time, cost and performance parameters.
Project approval (approbation de projet)
A decision by the appropriate governance level (e.g., project review committee, deputy head, minister or the Treasury Board) normally requested when the initial project planning and identification phase is completed, but before the project definition phase starts. In providing project approval, there is agreement that a program requirement has been identified and that there is adequate justification for meeting that requirement through a particular project. It is distinct from expenditure authority.
Project approval authority limits (limites des pouvoirs d’approbation de projet)
The threshold above which ministers are to seek project approval and expenditure authority from the Treasury Board.
Project baseline (or project phase baseline) (éléments de base (ou éléments de base de phase de projet))
The project baseline comprises each of the project objectives established at the time of securing expenditure authority from the appropriate authority (e.g, project review committee, deputy head, minister or the Treasury Board). Typically, project objectives include cost, schedule and performance, as well as any other critical objectives. Any significant deviations from this baseline must be authorized by the appropriate approval authority.
Project brief (énoncé de projet)
A project brief provides Treasury Board ministers or the department’s approval authority with a clear understanding of the proposed initiative and is supported by a business case, project charter and project management plan. The brief provides:
  • A synopsis of the core project documents;
  • A description of the expected business outcomes;
  • The significance of the project to achieving program and government objectives and the potential options;
  • The performance indicators to be measured; and
  • An evaluation strategy that identifies critical milestones that ensures objectives are met and amended only when necessary, and that value for money is achieved.
A project brief also identifies key decision points or opportunities for review during the life cycle of the project.
Project charter (charte de projet)
Prepared during the project planning and identification phase, the project charter forms the basis of understanding between the project sponsor and the project manager. The project charter documents the project’s goals and objectives, key deliverables, conditions for success, constraints, and roles and responsibilities.
Project close-out (clôture du projet)
The final phase in the project life cycle that involves final acceptance of the deliverables, archiving of the project documents and disbanding of the project team. A project close-out would also take place at the termination of a project prior to the end of implementation.
Project costs (coûts de projet)
Project costs include the full costs of all activities and deliverables from the project definition phase through to and including project close-out (regardless of the source of funds) that are necessary to achieve the project objectives or outcomes. Project costs are expected to include such provisions as the costs of employee benefit plans (20 per cent of salaries) for all salaries charged to the project and normal contingencies such as for inflation and foreign exchange.
Project definition (définition du projet)
This is a distinct phase of the project life cycle. Its purpose is to establish sound objectives, refine the implementation phase estimate (which may include design and property acquisition costs), reduce project risk, and support development of an element that will be part of the end-product of the project.
Project gate (point de contrôle de projet)
A project gate is a key decision and control point that occurs before the next major milestone or deliverable (e.g., business case) or a new project phase (e.g., implementation) begins. The gate represents a logical point at which executive “gatekeepers” can determine whether and how to proceed. Project gates effectively “open” or “close” the path leading to a subsequent project phase.
Project implementation (mise en œuvre du projet)
This is a distinct phase of the project life cycle. Project implementation or execution is directing, managing, performing and accomplishing the project work; providing the deliverables; and providing work performance information.
Project life cycle (cycle de vie du projet)
A collection of generally sequential project phases whose name and number are determined by the control needs of the organization or organizations involved in the project. A life cycle can be documented with a methodology.
Project management (gestion de projet)
The systematic planning, organizing and control of allocated resources to accomplish identified project objectives and outcomes. Project management is normally reserved for focused, non-repetitive and time-limited activities that have some degree of risk, and for activities that are beyond the usual scope of program (operational) activities.
Project management plan (plan de gestion du projet)
A document that identifies the planned objectives and deliverables of the project, the scope, work breakdown structure, budget, schedule, risks, roles, resources, functional strategies, project monitoring and control strategies, governance, process deviations, and management style. It becomes the plan for the project against which changes are measured.
Project manager (gestionnaire de projet)
The person assigned by the performing organization to achieve the project objectives.
Project planning and identification (planification et délimitation du projet)
This is the initial phase of the project life cycle during which the sponsoring department establishes the operational need(s), produces the statement of operational requirements, conducts initial options analyses and feasibility studies, sets up the appropriate management framework and agreements, assigns resources, and makes an initial assessment of project risk.
Project objectives (objectifs de projet)
These are the measurable individual performance objectives of a project that are approved by the appropriate authority through approval of the expenditure authority. Typically, the project objectives include cost, schedule and performance, as well as any other critical objectives. Once approved, collectively the project objectives form the project baseline.
Project office (also referred to as project management office) (Bureau du projet (aussi appelé bureau de gestion de projet))
This office is responsible for establishing, maintaining and enforcing project management processes, procedures and standards within the organization. A project office is a function that supports the project manager with project planning and control activities such as management of schedule, cost, risks, information and communication. On smaller projects, these functions may be performed by a single person; on larger projects, a team may be required.
Project parameters (paramètres de projet)
These are the measurable individual parameters of a project that are established through the project approval decision by the appropriate approval authority (e.g., project review committee, deputy head, minister or the Treasury Board). These are not sufficiently reliable to warrant approval as objectives or to form the project baseline. Project parameters are typically subdivided into cost, schedule and performance at an indicative level, as well as any other critical considerations. The level of quality and accuracy of these parameters is to improve as the project sponsor identifies and refines the activities over the project life cycle.
An amended project approval decision is required when seeking expenditure authority if there are any significant changes to the project parameters established by a previous project approval decision by the Treasury Board.*
Project scope (portée du projet)
The work that must be performed to deliver a product, service or result with the specified features and functions.
Project sponsor (parrain du projet)
A senior executive in the organization who is responsible for the success of the project and represents the benefactor(s) of the project deliverables or objectives. The project sponsor rarely becomes involved in the day-to-day running of the project. The sponsor’s role focuses on the following:
  • Approving project initiation;
  • Championing the project;
  • Securing funding for the project;
  • Accepting responsibility for identifying and addressing risks and challenges through active governance and oversight; and
  • Approving documents such as the business case, project charter and project management plan.
Because of the problem-solving nature of the role, the project sponsor often needs to be able to exert pressure within the organization to overcome resistance to the project. For this reason, the project sponsor will ideally be a person with great executive authority.
Quality standards (normes de qualité)
Quality standards address both the management of the project and the output(s) of the project. They are those standards established to ensure that the project will satisfy the needs for which it was undertaken.
Risk (risque)
Risk refers to the uncertainty that surrounds future events and outcomes. It is the expression of the likelihood and impact of an event with the potential to influence the achievement of an organization’s objectives.
Risk assessment (évaluation du risqué)
Refers to an analysis of the risks of a project at a particular point in time in which specific risks to the success of the project are identified and quantified (impact and probability), and mitigation plans are defined and actioned, according to the degree of the quantified threat.
Scope statement (énoncé de la portée)
A narrative description of the project scope (what needs to be accomplished) that may include deliverables, project objectives, project assumptions and constraints.
Senior Project Advisory Committee (SPAC) (Comité consultatif supérieur de projet (CCSP))
This is the interdepartmental senior-level forum for considering appropriate steps to orient a risky project to achieve relevant national objectives. When appropriate, the SPAC initiates agreements between the sponsoring department and relevant participating departments and acts as a forum for the resolution of issues that arise. The SPAC is chaired by the project leader and is to provide a forum for the review and discussion of project objectives, requests for proposals and other key project instruments. The SPAC could perform the role of procurement review that is accomplished by the Procurement Review Committee.
Sponsoring department (ministère parrain)
A sponsoring department is that which:
  • Has the operational requirement to be met by the project;
  • Has the funds for the project as appropriated by Parliament;
  • Makes submissions to the Treasury Board for approval of project objectives and expenditure authority; and
  • Is accountable for the overall management of the project.
Accountability for the project remains with the sponsor when another participating department or common service agency has agreed to perform project implementation.
Stakeholders (parties prenantes)
People who are actively involved in a project, or whose interests may be positively or negatively affected by the execution or completion of the project.
Statement of requirements (SOR) (énoncé des besoins (EB))
This is the sponsoring department’s documentation of the operational requirements (i.e., the performance objectives of the project) stated in qualitative and quantitative terms. SORs are normally expressed in operational or mission terms and are related to the department’s mandate or program accountability.
Substantive cost estimate (estimation fondée)
An estimate of sufficiently high quality and reliability to warrant approval as a cost objective for the project-phase(s) under consideration. A substantive estimate is expected to:
  • Reflect a fully defined scope, performance objective(s), and schedule;
  • Take into consideration consultations with all key stakeholders;
  • Identify assumptions that can have a significant impact on the financial requirements and explain the potential impacts;
  • Be based on a stated source of data that is reliable (such as industry standards, or historical data);
  • Reflect a comprehensive assessment of the risks; and include risk-mitigation strategies; and
  • Be expressed in terms of a cost per deliverable to support the monitoring and management of costs.
Work breakdown structure (structure de répartition du travail)
A work breakdown structure is a hierarchical itemization, oriented by deliverables, of the work to be executed by the project team to accomplish the project objectives and create the required deliverables. It organizes and defines the total scope of the project.
Work package (blocs de tâches)
The lowest level of the work breakdown structure. Together, all work packages identify all the work required to deliver the project’s objectives. A work package ideally has a single accountable lead.
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