I hope there's some jargon that describes this neatly. I'm trying to specify some software that handles starting a project phase only when all of the phases that it depends on have completed, Gantt-chart style.

If I want to describe a phase that cannot start because it is waiting for some dependency to complete, I would say that

This phase is **what**

If I want to describe a phase that can start because all the phases it depends on are complete, I would say that

This phase is **what**

Thanks! (From someone better at software than at project management!)

3 Answers 3


I would say "blocked" for the first one and one of "unblocked", "ready" or "to do" for the second one.


Optimize Terminology for Clarity of Communications

You are describing phase gates. There isn’t a universally-accepted set of terms for your desired project states, but each phase should have a set of project-specific status labels that communicate the state of the project or the gating criteria. An organizational or project glossary is typically where you will store these definitions if they aren’t intuitive for your stakeholders.

In an agile context, you will most often encounter terms like done, not done, or blocked. In a more traditional context, you may encounter terms like pending, complete, incomplete, partially (or x%) complete, started, not started, and so forth. These terms are really only limited by your imagination and the need for the terms to be effective at communicating status to stakeholders.

Some Pragmatic Status Labels

Having said “it depends,” there are nevertheless some common sense terms that you might consider. Here are some widely used terms and example sentences that might fit your project communications plan.

I want to describe a phase that cannot start because it is waiting for some dependency to complete[.]

This is most commonly blocked or pending. For example:

  1. Phase 2 is blocked by the delay in Phase 1-C.

  2. Phase 2 is pending the embiggening of the MacGuffin flange.

I want to describe a phase that can start because all the phases it depends on are complete[.]

Most commonly, this will be ready or started, depending on whether the project moves into to the next stage automatically after the phase gate has been passed.

  1. Phase 2 is ready to start, as Phase 1 was completed last week.

  2. Phase 2 has started, since the phase gate was cleared on Friday.

A Note on Gate Duration

Other terms may apply if you consider the phase gate itself to have duration. For example, a gate with duration may have a status of in review.

Remember, it’s all about what you’re trying to communicate about the project’s status. The “correct” label will depend on what this symbolic shorthand is intended to communicate to the stakeholders. That should always be the overriding concern for any status label.


This is probably a better fit for English Language & Usage than pmse.

From a project management standpoint, it doesn't really matter as long as you pick a term and stick with it.

For the first: "Is blocked, is blocked by '---', is dependent on '---', etc."

For the second: "Was blocked, was blocked by '---', was dependent on '---', is unblocked, is ready, passes the DoR (Definition of Ready), etc."

Or even something company-specific (e.g. 'ungooed'), as long as everyone knows what you're talking about.

  • I asked here because I didn't know if there was industry standard jargon. It seems there isn't. I'll wait 24 hours and try it over at EL&U. Thanks!
    – emrys57
    Oct 23, 2019 at 15:34

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