Mastering the Processes–Putting it All Together!


For the past month, I’ve gone through the six steps in mastering the 42 Processes of project management as presented in the PMBOK® Guide. It has taken a long time to go through them, but it is worth it.

1. Why learn the processes?

I have seen estimates that 70 out of 200 questions on the PMP exam deal in some shape or other with the processes, which comes out to 35% of the total. You memorize the processes and master them, and you’re more than one-third of the way to passing the exam! But besides the pragmatic goal of passing the exam, learning the flow of the different processes in project management is like putting your finger on the pulse of a project.

2. Quality audit of these posts about proceseses

In my own estimation, some of these posts on memorizing the processes have been creative (step 3), whereas some have been close to summaries of what is already in the PMBOK® Guide (steps 5 and 6). But these more derivative posts I hope still add some value, because in studying the processes, you do need to go the PMBOK® Guide and not just read the contents of the processes, but view the maps which show how the inputs, outputs, tools & techniques of each process are connected. So the posts mirrored what we had to do in preparing for our study group sessions.

3. Recommendations for future review

I strongly recommend taking the flashcards developed as part of step 4 with the names of the processes and adding the inputs, outputs, tools & techniques to them. You can then recreate on a table or desk the maps that are part of the PMBOK® Guide for the processes. When you see the links between the processes visually, it becomes easier for you to remember them. We have been told this not just by people who have passed the PMP exam, but by instructors who have taught the material.

In the end, you need to connect the inputs and outputs, tools & techniques of the process with the PURPOSE of the process. In this way, you are going beyond MEMORIZING to truly UNDERSTANDING. In studying the process 4.1 Develop Project Charter, it doesn’t take a person who passed the PMP to figure out that the OUTPUT of the process is going to be, surprise, the Project Charter.   But what are the inputs?  To answer this, you need to figure out what would be needed to create the project charter? (Business case, product scope description, organizations’s strategic plan, etc.) These are the kind of questions you should ask yourself to test your understanding.

4. Diversity in a study group helps

Remember that within each study group, what is difficult for one person may not be difficult for another person given that each person’s background and experience differs.

For example, I was relatively unfamiliar with the types of procurement contracts when I started studying for the PMP test, whereas another person in our group said it was easy because she deals with subcontractors all the time. On the other hand, I find risk management if not easy at least understandable, but this same person had trouble with that knowledge area.  I had the advantage over her in this area because I had worked for many years with risk management at an insurance company. So different people in the study group will bring different sets of expertise to the table based on their varied backgrounds.

So take advantage of the diversity of your group and turn it into a learning experience!

5. Next posts

The next posts will go through the Knowledge Areas from Integration through Procurements and pick out topics in each knowledge area that seemed to cause particular difficulty for our study group, or which needed particular attention because they were complicated.

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