Blog posted by: Robert Buttrick, 23 May 2023.
The way English is used in different English-speaking countries shows how having a common language is both important and sometimes problematic in either a personal or a professional scenario. It's been said that the USA and the UK are two countries divided by the same language. If you're using British English, try asking for tissues (Kleenex) in a US chemist shop (drug store) and you'll understand.
In a project management environment, the nuances of certain words can be lost depending on the project management training you received (for example APM or PMI based). [RB1]In such situations, words can obstruct effective communication and you cannot be 100% sure your intent has been understood by another person.
For example, PRINCE2 uses the word “stage” where the British Standard BS 6079: 2019 for project management, as well as most US-originated guidance, adopts the word “phase”, though both mean essentially the same thing. However, in some organizations one word describes a sub-element of the other, complicating matters further.
So, when working with project professionals from different training and knowledge backgrounds, misunderstandings can result. For example, in the construction sector, a “programme” is a schedule of dates whereas others may equate a schedule with the term “plan”. In PRINCE2, however, a plan specifies the “what, when, how much, how and by whom”. Providing a schedule when asked for a plan in a PRINCE2 project will likely beg the question: “Where's the rest of it?”
This is why having a common language for project management, but one that can be tailored to different team members' and stakeholders' needs, is significant. The logical conclusion of this is the UK Government's project delivery functional standard, which draws together numerous sources of knowledge and guidance across government, PeopleCert best practice publications including PRINCE2, and British and international standards.