What is a project naming convention?In the post, PMO Planning of Next Year’s Projects, it covered the importance of thinking about the mobilization of projects and programmes early so as to improve the probability of successful outcome.

Part of the mobilization process is building a list of projects that an organization wishes to execute. To assist it is important that time is not spent on unnecessary activity. A common problem can impact many organizations and leads to people wasting unnecessary time and effort, is naming conventions!

What are project naming conventions?

Quite simply it is the action of making sure that the same name, description or acronym is used to describe a project, process, etc. As opposed to using or interchanging names, etc.

Why is this a problem?

There are many occasions where people will insist on using different project names to describe their project. When the description is similar, this is not so much of an issue.

However, it is quite common to have situations where the name is so different that the person reviewing the project list will assume it is a completely different project.

This can be very embarrassing as a sponsor is asking for an update on a project and, because you do not recognize the name, you make statements like “that is not an active project”.

This can make you look like you do not know what is going on, causes the sponsor to have reduced confidence in you and can make you look silly.

It is also very confusing where a project is listed with one name on one report and a different name on another. This will result in people having to investigate and ask questions about projects that they do not recognize on the list.

It may lead to duplicate records to be set-up and, double counting of budget (this could cause real problems as it may look like the overall portfolio is over budget and may mean funds are not available for other projects).

Ensure common naming of projects

To overcome this problem is very simple, make sure that it is clear to everyone must use the same naming convention for projects and, if appropriate, project ID (i.e. when using an enterprise solution like Clarity).

When all projects are submitted, the PMO should review and query any project name that they cannot identify. If it is incorrect make sure that the submission is changed and educate the person who provided the submission to use the correct name.

Keep driving the quality and reinforcing the message as it will result in making everyone’s life a bit easier.

It is helpful for the PMO to create and publish a simple set of guidelines. This will help ensure a common understanding and provide a useful reference guide.


This is a very simple tip, one that many would say does not need to be written down. However, like most things in life, keeping it simple can give a huge amount of benefit.

So remember to use “Consistent project naming conventions”.