Simplifying Process Inputs and Outputs for the PMP exam

Project Management Institute published the fifth edition of the A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK® Guide) in 2013.  With over half a million certified PMP®s, it is no wonder it is the most sought after certification in the project management industry.

A veritable tome of knowledge, the PMBOK Guide has evolved over the years.  In its current avatar as the fifth edition, it runs into over 600 pages (of which nearly 50 pages are dedicated to appendix X1 and X2 tracing the history of this guide itself).  Though a lot of content over the years has been streamlined, still it is a humongous work that anyone preparing for the PMP examination is expected to review.

The challenge is compounded by the fact that there are 47 processes across 10 knowledge areas and 5 process groups.  With the increase in the number of processes (as compared to the previous editions) comes the challenge of understanding the various inputs, outputs, tools and techniques. 


Compiled here are some interesting statistics:

PMBOK Guide ItemCount
Process Groups 5
Knowledge Areas 10
Processes 47
Inputs 256
Outputs 153
Tools & Techniques 209
Unique set of Inputs and Outputs < 75
Unique set of Tools & Techniques < 120

As can be seen the combined set of inputs and outputs (the items) contains 409 entries.  Since these items are shared across processes, the unique set is less than 75.   With this complexity how should one go about understanding the vast matrix of processes, inputs and outputs?

We present here a tool that helps save many hours of preparation for the PMP aspirant.  We hope you will enjoy it too! 
Study the sample shown below and if you like what you see, go ahead and download (instructions provided at end of article). It is FREE after all!




Understanding the Process Input-Output Combination Matrix


Fig: Sample matrix(download full matrix as per instructions given below)

This matrix is packed with information.  At first glance, it appears too noisy.  Follow the guidelines below, and you will start to appreciate the simplicity behind it.

  • PROCESS names are color coded (by process groups) and form the column heading
  • Each process is also marked with the KNOWLEDGE AREA and the PROCESS GROUP it belongs to
  • ITEMs in the first column represent the process inputs and outputs
  • Any item may be an output ('o') of a process and an input ('i') into another process
  • An 'io' indicates that the item is an input and the updates of the input are the output. This is generally the case with Organizational Process Assets (OPA), Project Documents and Project Management Plan
  • To understand how a particular ITEM is used, go across the row and read the 'i', 'o', and 'io' and the process names off of that.
    For example:  Risk Register is an output of Identify Risks process and is an input to Develop Schedule, Estimate Costs and other processes.
  • To understand the inputs and outputs for a process, go down the column of that particular process and read off the ITEMs
    For example:  In the Monitor and Control Project Work column, the
    • Inputs are - Organizational Process Assets, Project Management Plan, Enterprise Environmental Factors (EEF)
    • Outputs are - Project Documents Updates, Project Management Plan Updates, Change Requests


What do these mean?

  • # of impacted processes - This column shows how many processes are impacted by this item. 
    For example: Project Schedule Network Diagram impacts 2 processes - it is an output of Sequence Activities process, and is an input to Develop Schedule process.
  • # of process inputs - This indicates the number of inputs for this process.  
    For example: Identify Risks process has a total of 13 inputs.
  • # of process outputs - This indicates the number of outputs for this process. 
    For example: Control Quality process has a total of 8 outputs.


Patterns to your rescue

If you carefully analyze, you will spot some patterns for the inputs and outputs.  Typically, a collection of inputs and / or outputs will be repeated across a set of processes.  Recognizing this will help in easy recollection and understanding.  Here are some patterns to remember. 
(Note: Here <KA> means Knowledge Areas, such as those represented by Scope, Time, Cost, Quality, Procurement, etc., with the exception of Integration.)

Control <KA>

(Covers 8 processes)

  • Project Management Plan
  • Work Performance Data
  • Work Performance Information
  • Change Requests
  • Project Management Plan updates
  • Project Documents updates
  • Organizational Process Assets updates
All Integration KA processes
  • Enterprise Environmental Factors
  • Organizational Process Assets
Plan <KA> Management

(Covers 9 processes)

  • Project Management Plan
  • Enterprise Environmental Factors
  • Organizational Process Assets
  • <KA> Management Plan
Planning and Executing processes within each <KA>
  • Corresponding <KA> Management Plan


Download Instructions

Option 1: To download a 2-page compact matrix



Option 2: To download a single-page Poster and other freebies

  • Login
  • Click on FREE menu item on the top navigation bar
  • Select PMP Resources, and download the Combination Input-Output Matrix (PDF file) or the one-page Poster

Your suggestions will help us improve. Do let us know what you think.


Copyright Notice: A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK® Guide) is published by Project Management Institute, USA, 2013
Process Input-Output Combination Matrix not endorsed by PMI.


  • Sabrina

    posted by Sabrina

    Sunday, 03 July 2016 00:46

    Thanking so mucho. This is great! just what I was looking for.. I'm wonder, do you have something like this but for tools and techniques?

  • Juan Perdomo

    posted by Juan Perdomo

    Friday, 27 November 2015 17:15

    Many thanks for sharing this information. Is it possible get in a excel file?

    In an excel file will be very helpful to filter and focus in the information require.

    Juan Perdomo

  • sayed abd rabou sayed

    posted by sayed abd rabou sayed

    Friday, 09 January 2015 05:43

    thanks very much it's really very useful
    good pleased you.

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