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PMP Exam Preparation Notes

PMP exam has vast syllabus, and it can be overwhelming to go through everything. Here are note collected during PMP exam preparation.

Procurement audit

A Technique used during procurement closure to find successes and failures that might be useful for other contracts and projects in organization.

Monte Carlo Simulation

is a process used to predict the probability of outcome based on input. Multiple iterations are done with the input value randomly from probability distribution (of input variable) to create probability distribution of the output. Output is generally Total cost or Completion dates. e.g. It can be determined what is the probability of achieving specific total cost or completing project on certain date.

Attribute sampling vs.. variable sampling

attribute sampling – the result either conforms or does not conform

variable sampling – the degree to which results conforms

Quality Theories

  • Joseph Juran – 80/20 principle, top management involvement, fitness to use

  • Edward Demin -  14 steps to total quality management, plan-do-check-act cycle

  • Philip Crosby – advocated cost of poor quality, and prevention over inspection, zero defects, quality = conformance to requirement

  • Total Quality Management – Theory encourages everybody to continuously find ways to improve quality.

Process Analysis

Quality Assurance tool for process improvement. Recurring Process is checked after certain time for improvements.

Std deviation

  • +/-1σ – 68.2%

  • +/-2σ – 95.46%

  • +/-3σ – 99.73%

  • +/-6σ – 99.99%

Kaizen - Continuous improvement


PMI's project management maturity model to help organization identify their level of maturity in project management

Lessons Learnt are created through out the project and shared. Lessons learnt are finalized in Closing process.

RFI – Request for Information is done before RFP, RFQ or IFB is sent to collect information for sellers. The information can be used to select sellers or to create procurement documents.

Source Selection Criteria

Used as guide to select sellers. Sellers can use the criteria to determine the buyer's need and whether to bid or not.

Standard Contract and Special Provisions/Conditions

Standard Contract are created to be used with standard recurring type of procurement by organization. These can be used without separate legal approval. Special Provisions can be added based on Project requirement and needs legal approval before use.

Privity – Contractual relationship

Fait Accompli – A negotiating tactic for a must situation such as including meeting government regulations.

Type of risks – Business risk (risk of gain or loss); Pure (Insurable risk) – only loss

Risk Audit – A monitor and Control risk process to make sure all risks are identified, you have proper response plans etc.

Type of performance reports include Status report, Progress report, Trend report, Forecasting report, Variance report, Earned Value report.

Resource Histogram

When are resource needed showing spike in resources. This can help PM arrange resources during peaks.

Laissez Fair – A leadership style where people are left alone and manager work as consultant type as required.

Reason of conflicts in the order of frequency

  1. Schedule

  2. Project Priorities

  3. Resources

  4. Technical Opinion

  5. Admin procedures

  6. Cost

  7. Personality

Expectation Theory

Employees who believe their efforts will lead to effective performance and will be rewarded works productively

Arbitration – a neutral party resolve dispute

Perquisites or Perks – special benefit

Fringe Benefit – Standard benefit everybody gets

McGregor's theory of X and Y

X = People need to be watched, Y = Opposite

Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs - Lowest to highest

  1. Physiology

  2. Safety

  3. Social

  4. Esteem

  5. Self-fulfillment

David McClelland's Theory of Need or Acquired Need theory

People are motivated by need for any one of achievement, affiliation, power

Herzberg's Theory

Poor Hygiene factors may destroy motivation, but improving them will not improve motivation. Motivational factors are work related e.g. Responsibility, Self-actualization, professional growth, work recognition.

Phase exists are also known as phase gates, decision gates,stage gates, kill points or milestones.

Quality Function deployment

A type of facilitated workshop technique used in requirement gathering to determine critical characteristics of new product. It starts by Voice of customer (collecting customer needs).

Tornado diagram

A type of Sensitivity analysis (Modelling) technique used in Quantitative risk analysis comparing relative importance and impact of variables.

Force majeure - a powerful and unexpected event, such as a hurricane or other disaster

Unique organization culture (part of environmental factors) include

  • Shared vision, values, norms, beliefs, expectations

  • Policies, methods, procedures

  • View of authority relationships

  • Work ethics and work hours

Cultural differences should be considered when deciding recognition and rewards during develop team process.

Accuracy of estimate

  • Rough of order of magnitude - -50% to +50%, generally used in initiating phase

  • Budget estimate - -10% to to +25%, generally used in planning

  • Definitive estimate - -10% to +10%

Activity Attributes – information associated with an activity such as Predecessor, Successor, resources assigned etc.

Activity Duration – Time in calendar units.

Actual Duration – Time in calendar units between actual start date and current date if activity is not finished

Code of Accounts – Numbering system used to identify wbs elements.

Cost Performance Baseline – A specific version of time phased budget to compare actual cost to planned cost.

Duration – Time in workweeks or workdays.

Effort – The number of labor units required to complete schedule activity.

Master Schedule – Summary level schedule including major deliverable.

Planning Package – WBS Component below control account with known work content but without detailed schedule

Project Organization Chart – A chart that shows project team members and their relationships.

Project Scope Statement – Contains description of project scope, major deliverables, assumptions, constraints and description of work.

Residual Risk – A risk that remains after risk response implementation.

Resource Breakdown Structure – A hierarchy chart used to show resources by category and type used for resource levelling.

Scope Creep – Adding Scope without approval and without analyzing effect on constraints

Secondary Risk – A risk that arises as a result of implementing risk response.

Strategies to deal to with risks

Negative Risks or threats -

  1. Avoid – Changing Plan to avoid risks completely example changing schedule or limiting scope.

  2. Transfer – Transfer risks on someone else e.g. Outsourcing using FP Contract, Insurance etc

  3. Mitigate – Reducing probability or impact.

  4. Accept – accept the risk.

Positive risks or Opportunities -

  1. Exploit – Reduce the uncertainty of risk happening

  2. Share – Share the risks with another party who is best able to capture it.

  3. Enhance – Increase probability or impact of risk

  4. Accept – Accept but do not actively pursue it.

Techniques for resolving conflict

There are six techniques

  1. Withdrawing/Avoiding – Retracting from an actual or potential conflict situation.

  2. Smoothing/Accommodating – Emphasize area of agreement

  3. Compromising – Alternative where everybody compromises a little.

  4. Forcing – Pushing one viewpoint

  5. Collaborating – discussing multiple view point, results in consensus and commitment

  6. Confronting/Problem Solving – Treating conflict as a potential problem, best method as resolves cause.

Five Phases of team building

  1. Forming – Initial stage when team is formed and members learn about their roles and responsibilities.

  2. Storming – The team starts to work on individual tasks. The team is not collaborative yet.

  3. Norming – The team begins to work together and trust each other.

  4. Performing – The team functions as a unit and performs as team.

  5. Adjourning – The team completes the work.

Performing Quality Control

  • Cause and Effect diagrams or Ishikawa diagram or Fishbone diagram – shows how factors can be related to effects.

  • Control Charts

  • Flowcharting

  • Histogram – A bar chart showing how often a variable occurs.

  • Pareto Chart – A type of histogram showing frequency of occurrence.

  • Run Chart – Similar to Control Chart without showing limits

  • Scatter diagram – shows relationship between two variables and whether these are related or not.

  • Statistical Sampling

  • Inspection

  • Approved Change Request Review

Precision Vs Accuracy

Precision is the degree of scatter for repeated measurement. Accuracy is how close the measure value is to expected value.

Quality Vs Grade

Quality and Grade are different though can be confused. Quality is the degree to which outcome meets the specified requirements and measurements. Grade is the category of the product. For example, Software can have two grades, one with limited features other with all the features.

Critical Path Method

Critical Path - Critical path is the longest duration path in the network diagram and provides shortest time to complete the project.

Near Critical Path – The path closest to the critical path. The closer near critical path is to critical path, the more risk to the project. Why? Because if thereis need to shorten critical path or lengthen the near critical path, the near critical path will become new critical path.

Types of Activity Duration Estimations

  • Analogous Estimating – Uses parameters from similar historical projects to estimate.

  • Parametric Estimating – Uses statistical relationship between historical data and variables. Example – cost per labour hour

  • Three Point Estimate – PERT (Program Evaluation and Review Technique)E = (O+4M+P)/6

  • Heuristic – Rule of Thumb (e.g.. Testing should take 50% of what development takes)

Float(Slack) -

  • Total Float- The amount of time an activity can be delayed without delaying project end date or next milestone.

  • Free Float - The amount of time an activity can be delayed without delaying early start of successor activity

  • Project Float - The amount of time project can be delayed without delaying promised completion date.Activities on critical path have zero float.

  • Float = LS – ES = LF – EF

Fast Tracking – Doing Critical path activities in parallel.

Crashing – Compressing schedule by increasing cost e.g. Adding resources.

Resource Levelling – Limiting resources by compromising schedule and cost to the project.

Critical Chain Method – A resource constrained critical path is critical chain. Network diagram is prepared and critical chain is calculated by adding resource dependencies. A buffer is added before milestones to provide cushion.

Requirements Traceability Matrix - A table that links requirement to original goal or object or objective to provide traceability.

Change Requests and actions

Actions are taken during projects to mitigate or stop performance deviation.

  • Corrective Action – Action taken to bring future performance back to expected performance.

  • Preventive Action – Action taken in advance to stop performance to deviate from expected performance.

  • Defect Repair – Repair the bug or problem or replace the faulty item

Project Documents

Any document that is not part of project management plan. It includes Project Charter, SOW, Contracts, Stakeholder Register, Risk Register, Issue Log, Change Log, Quality metrics etc.

Project Management Information System - Any software tools used in project management process.

Change Control System

An organizational process asset that includes forms, templates, procedures, software to control, track and monitor changes. This is generally a subset of Configuration management system.

Any action that would require change to the project management plan would require a change request. The change can also be requested by stakeholders. Change request would than need to go thru Integrated Change Control Process.

  1. Evaluate the impact

  2. Create options – including Crashing, Fast tracking etc.

  3. Internally approve the Change request

  4. Review with management and sponsor

  5. Review with Customer if required

  6. Update the status of the in change control system

Work Authorization System

Work Authorization System is the tool to authorize work performed during Project. It is collection of formally documented procedures to define to ensure work is performed by right resource or team, at appropriate time and proper sequence. The procedures also include required forms, templates, steps and approvals required to perform work,

At the beginning of the project there is less cost and less demand for resources. Also there is a higher risk of failure at the beginning of the project. The risk reduces over the life of the project. The stakeholder influence is maximum at the beginning of the project and reduces over the life of the project.

Progressive Elaboration means adding more details in an iterative fashion. Project Management Plan is developed using progressive elaboration.

Organizational Process Assets

Organization Process Assets include all existing documents, templates, Historical information, Lessons learned, plans, procedures, guidelines, risk data etc that can influence project’s success.

Enterprise Environmental Factors

Enterprise Environmental Factors are unique factors (internal and external) that might impact Project’s success. These are inputs to most Project Management Processes.

  1. Company Culture and Structure

  2. Government regulations

  3. Industry Standards

  4. Existing Infrastructure

  5. Existing Resources and Available Skills

  6. HR Policies

  7. Market Conditions

  8. Risk Tolerance

  9. Political Climate

  10. Project Management tools

Project Life Cycle, Project Phases

All projects follow a life cycle from start to close. Generic life cycle can be think of as Starting, Preparing, Executing and Closing.

Project can have multiple phases. Each Phase is like a new project and goes thru Project Life cycle. Phases would generally have one of the following relationships

  1. Sequential – New Phase can only start after completing current phase

  2. Overlapping – New Phase will start before ending current phase.

  3. Iterative – Only one phase is planned initially and new phase will be planned later as the work continues in the current phase.


  1. The Project Management Professional Program supports the international community of project management professionals and is designed to objectively assess and measure professional knowledge.

  2. Planning on writing my PMP exam soon and I found these notes in time to review just before the exam.

    Thank you,

  3. Great work and very useful information.. Thanks

  4. I find it very useful as I am preparing for my PMP exam

  5. This sounds great

  6. You can find more PMP terms and PMI-ism at

  7. How amazingly thoughtful to post your notes. I am getting ready to use my PMBok as a doorstop.

    Thank you

  8. thank you for this notes they will really help in praparing for my coming exams.

    i would really appreciate an explanation in how time,cost and quality relate and affect each other

  9. Thank you very much.. really useful info

  10. Thank you very useful notes.

  11. I am preparing for PMP exam and was looking for something exactly same. Thanks for keeping all important keynotes in one place.

  12. Excellent info

  13. Very nice article to remember important points from PMBOK. Good refresher before taking the PMP exam.

  14. I must say this is very good for last day prep.
    Wanted to highlight that "Exploit " is explained wrongly

    Exploit – Reduce the uncertainty of risk happening

    It should be exploiting the opportunity for benefits.

    Correct me or the notes


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