Join Terminology and Definitions

Get familiar with the terminology Join uses in the platform and how it relates to industry definitions


A Project in Join is an organized effort to plan and determine with confidence the total cost of a project Milestone by creating Milestone Estimates/Budgets and making decisions around Items and Options.

Related Terms:

Project Status: The status setting within the Project that is maintained by a Project Administrator to identify how the Project is being used.


A Milestone is a significant point in time that occurs as the project evolves and typically coincides with the issuance of a new drawing or document set. In Join, Milestones allows you to keep track of project estimates and budgets. All Items in a Project are associated with one or many Milestones.

Related Terms:

Active Milestone: The active Milestone in a project is the Milestone that you’re currently working on. It’s the Milestone that you’ll see in the Dashboard and Reports.

Estimate: The original baseline estimate for the project in any given Milestone. Items are considered as changes relative to this baseline estimate.

Budget: The target budget amount for the project and what they are working towards meeting.

Delta: The difference between the Milestone Budget and Estimate: negative if the Estimate is over Budget, positive if under.

Estimate Total: The original baseline estimate for the project in any active Milestone. 

Running Total: The estimate plus any accepted Items: represents the real-time project costs.

Gap: The difference between the Milestone Budget and the running total: represents the amount of change still needed to meet the Budget.

Direct Costs: Cost of materials, labor, equipment, etc. Included in subtotals without Markups.

Markups: Indirect costs, such as general conditions, general requirements, insurance, bonds, permits, and fees.

Lump-sum Markups: A lump sum Markup is a fixed dollar amount cost. It doesn't change based on the estimate subtotal or the cost of any accepted Items.

Percent Markups: A percent Markup is a variable amount based on costs in the Milestone Estimate or Budget and any accepted Items.

Tip: You can customize some of the Milestone terminologies via the Settings tab to match your company or project standards.


Items are how Join allows you to track ideas to be explored or decisions to be made. Each Item has a set of information to make it easy to brainstorm, analyze, and review an Item.

Related Terms:

Options: In Join, you can set up multiple “Options” within an “Item” where all of the decisions are mutually exclusive. Options make it possible to view a range of costs for one Item without artificially inflating or deflating the potential value of a project decision. When you accept an Option, all of the other related Options are automatically set to “Not Chosen” so you can move on to other decisions right away.


Categories allow teams to organize costs and Items. Categories can be a WBS (Work Breakdown Structure) or ad-hoc information to categorize the project in any number of ways like location, priority, team, cost confidence, etc. Categories are a way to easily and quickly slice and dice Milestone cost and Item cost data.

Related Terms:

Work Breakdown Structure (WBS):  A WBS is a way to compartmentalize the project into smaller pieces that are each associated with similar characteristics. In Join, a WBS is the same as a Category and you can create a custom category for any type of WBS.

Some well-known WBS structures such as MasterFormat and UniFormat are used to break down the project into aspects of the building such as structure, shell, or interior finishes. Both MasterFormat and UniFormat have multiple levels with each subcategorization flushing out further detail. Not all WBS codes have multiple levels. For example, a Project Phase Custom Category or WBS would allow you to categorize your Estimate or Item data with schedule as the concern.