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Inputs, Outputs, Tools and Techniques

(How to handle PMP Exam Questions Based on Them)

Process Inputs, Outputs, Tools, and Techniques comprise a special category of information in the PMBOK® Third Edition (and in the Fourth Edition to be released in December 2008). This information is emphasized in both the PMBOK® and AceIt© to catch the reader’s eye. Your retention of this information will also be tested on the PMP® certification exam so it pays to absorb this knowledge.

While it may be possible for some people with exceptional memories to memorize this information, process by process, that would be impossible for the majority of people! But don’t despair; here are some tips to help you acquire all the knowledge you need for your PMP® Exam preparation.

Don’t try to memorize this information. Doing so will only frustrate you and may cause you to lose your focus and fail the exam.

Concentrate on understanding each process in the context of:
  1. The knowledge area it belongs to, and
  2. To the phase it is being performed in

By understanding the process in the context of the project phase it’s being used in, we mean that inputs to a process will evolve and look very different as a project progresses from initiation to close out. Let’s take the area of Risk Management as an example. The Risk Identification process uses the Scope Statement as an input to help identify risks to the project. The information contained in the Scope Statement will evolve over the life of the project as changes to scope are approved and more is known about the products and services being produced. Also the Scope Statement will be a key input to the process during the planning phase but be much less important during the execution phase, that’s why it’s included in the Planning Phase in the Project Process Matrix (Figure 6 in the AceIt© Manual)

Focus on the Tools & Techniques each process uses. The Tools & Techniques define the activities that support the process. They also act upon the inputs to develop outputs. For example Qualitative Risk Analysis uses the Risk List developed in Risk Identification to identify the risks to be qualified. Understanding what the process accomplishes (the assignment of a score representing probability and impact to a risk for the purpose of ranking them) helps you intuitively understand its inputs. The risk list is the obvious source for the risks of the project.

Make sure that your PMP® Exam preparation efforts are focused on understanding how each process in the menu of project management processes benefits planning, executing, monitoring & controlling, or closing out the project. When you have a solid understanding of the activities occurring in each process, you’ll be able to determine which inputs it needs and which outputs it produces.

The PMP® Exam may contain questions that test your knowledge of inputs, outputs, tools, and techniques, but remember that these are multiple choice questions and the best answer will always be one of the choices. Your ability to relate the information in the question to a process combined with your understanding of that process will enable you to identify the best answer even when you can’t remember all the inputs, outputs, tools, and techniques.