Learning the Inputs, Tools/Techniques and Outputs

15 December, 2014

The Project Management Professional (PMP)® exam is not an easy one to pass. Although there is a lot of material involved, learning by rote is not going to get you through the PMP® exam. So how should you study for the PMP®?

You need to know the 47 project management processes. There is no getting away from this. You should be able to reproduce the grid shown in Figure 3-1 on page 61 of the Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK® Guide). However, it is no good being able to memorize the names of 47 processes and being able to locate them in the correct knowledge areas and process groups. If you are a practicing Project Manager, then you need to understand what each of these 47 processes does. What other processes do they need in order to do their own work and what do these processes contribute to others?

It might be tempting just to learn off the inputs and outputs to these processes but that is the way madness lays. There are 251 inputs in total – admittedly not unique ones, but this just adds to the confusion. The outputs picture is more optimistic – these add up to 152 in total – but that is still a lot of material to keep in your head leading up to the PMP® exam.

It is much better to ask yourself: what does this process do? This will lead naturally to the outputs. For instance: what are the outputs of Develop Project Charter? Even if you never took a PMP® exam preparation course or looked at the PMBOK® Guide, you can guess that the output is the Project Charter (there is a hint in the name).

How about Plan Schedule Management? It is no surprise to learn that the output of this is a Schedule Management Plan. Similarly, Plan Cost Management, Plan Quality Management, Plan HR Management, Plan Communications Management, Plan Risk Management, Plan Procurement Management and Plan Stakeholder Management all produce plans relating to their areas and they all feed into the overall Project Management Plan. Granted, some of these processes produce other outputs, but the key output will always be some sort of plan that relates to the management of this particular knowledge area.

Another interesting feature of these planning processes is that each and every one of them includes Organizational Process Assets and Enterprise Environmental Factors among their inputs. This makes a lot of sense. It is very useful when creating any sort of artefact to have a template to use. It is also useful to base your future planning on lessons learned from historical documents. All this can be found among the Organizational Process Assets. Similarly, all projects are conducted in the context of an organization and a marketplace. The Project Manager needs to be aware of the environment the project has to work within. So the Enterprise Environmental Factors become critical. Because these two inputs are so frequently used (the Process Assets appear 38 times, while the Environmental Factors occur in 27 places) you really need to have a good appreciation of what these mean.

You should also recognize the processes that update them. Enterprise Environment Factors are only updated by two processes – Develop and Manage Project Team. If you train up the team, you need to update skills matrices and training records; when managing the team you will be contributing to their appraisals. The Organizational Process Assets are updated in 14 places, so try to think where templates, for instance, get updated. The “control” processes are very likely candidates. Another process asset that we will affect is historical information, so the Close Project or Phase process updates these assets too.

Another good approach to building an intuitive understanding of the input and outputs of a process is to ask yourself when am I doing this work? In others words, what will I have to do prior to this and what will I be doing afterwards. This will indicate what I have available to me and what I need to produce in order to proceed with other processes. This sort of thinking also helps PMP® exam candidates come to grips with the tools and techniques being used. If you understand what the process does, the tools and techniques will become reasonably obvious. Again, learning these off by rote is not advised because there are 204 of them.

Velopi’s PMP® Exam Preparation courses will give you clear explanations for each process and the understanding you will need to recognize their inputs, tools/techniques and outputs. Please visit our training page or contact us directly for more details.


By Velopi Seamus Collins

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