Part 4: How to Create PMP Study Plan? | Complete Guide to PMBOK Tools and Techniques


Hello, and welcome to this video series on how to create your PMP exam study plan. Today, in part four, I'm going to talk about the various tools and techniques in the PMBoK guide under various project management processes. Now, given a large number of tools and techniques; how do you really cope up with those huge number of techniques? Secondly, there could be several techniques which can be used in different situations; so, I'm going to cover that today and make it a little easier for you to comprehend those various tools and techniques.

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So, for example, let's look on the board here about different categories of techniques. Fortunately, PMBoK Guide has an Appendix X.6, which actually categorizes these tools and techniques into several types. For example, we have the data gathering techniques- we have got nine of them, which means how do we gather data through interviews, focus groups, surveys, questionnaires and so on. Compare that with data analysis techniques- we have got a huge number, twenty-seven of them, where we analyze data. For example, root-cause analysis or stakeholder analysis and so on, and I've got some more examples here. Then I've got another one known as data representation. So, once you have gathered the data and you have analyzed it, we need to represent it in some kind of a diagram; so I've got things like Stakeholder Maps and Affinity Diagrams, etc. So, these are three types of data-related techniques. Of course, you can always go to the PMBoK Guide; and reach every process group, every process, every chapter, and go through all the tools and techniques you would have to do that anyway. But, by understanding this categorization, it becomes easy for you to think that, oh yes, this technique is from this category- meaning this technique is used for analysis, this is used for gathering, this is used for mapping, and so on. 

By the way, there are some more types of techniques here as you can see. This side, I've got the interpersonal and team skills, this is about interaction with people. For example, conflict management, political awareness, cultural awareness and so on. I’ve got few more techniques listed here like meetings and facilitation. Then comes communication skills- there’s just two of them, so it is easy- presentation skills and feedback skills. Then you’ve also got the decision-making skills- two of them (i) voting and (ii) multi-criteria decision analysis. And lastly, there is a huge number of ungrouped techniques, which are 60 in number. So, there are different types like inspection, audit and communication technology, and so on. So, this was the first point here, understanding the various categories of tools and techniques.

Secondly, I would like to bring your attention to how techniques sound similar; and even if they don't sound similar, can they be used for similar reasons or similar situations? Yes! So, let's get some examples now. Look at this one- checksheet and checklist, they sound very similar, don't they? But, check sheet is a tabulated result of a quality control test. Whereas, a checklist can be used to verify step 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 in a process or a procedure, or you can use it to verify a set of requirements whether they have been met or not.

Another example, I have got focus groups here- focus groups are very informal, we’ve got a group of people in a room like Subject Matter Experts, discussing something. But, because of the informality, we don't know whether it will lead to a conclusion- certain agreements or certain buy-ins, and so on. But on this side, we have got facilitation- facilitation is from interpersonal and team skills- they are very formal. This means that the same group of people when they come to a formal workshop, they will have mutual agreements- buy-ins and there are proper outcomes and action plans. So, that's the difference between focus groups and facilitation.

Another example- Process Analysis is used in quality management to analyze a certain process, whether it is having non-value add, any constraints, any problems, any risks, and so on. Compare that with product analysis- product analysis is used for defining scope, it's about thinking about the product; how it should be manufactured, how many models should be there, what should be the pricing, what materials should be used, and so on in product metrics, etc.

Some more examples to really understand that there are different techniques, which may sound similar. Stakeholder Analysis is about analyzing stakeholders, compare that with stakeholder mapping to represent them into a picture like an impact grid or a stakeholder cube. I will not be going into detail about each one of them; but, I'm really bringing your attention to the nature of similar-sounding techniques.

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A more complicated one would be sensitivity analysis. Sensitivity analysis, let me take an example of project schedule- it depends on supplier performance, skill sets of the team members. So, what happens when we experiment with the skill sets and the supplier performance? So, we can establish a correlation factor between each one of them and the output which is a project schedule. So, if I improve the supplier performance, my schedule might be better. So, that's what we do in a sensitivity analysis, we assign a correlation factor.

Compare that with representations of uncertainty; this is also a bit similar, but it is still different. We have the same project schedule and we have got the same input parameters; but, what we do now is we play with the probabilities of the input parameters, and how does that impact the probabilities of the output. So, when we do that you have got representations of uncertainty. In case of uncertainty, we have got too many input parameters and several probabilities to work on, then we need a more complex method known as Simulation.

Some more examples- look at Affinity Diagrams; here, a grouping of ideas, grouping of issues into different categories or buckets, which is different from a context diagram. A context diagram is used to map a business process onto a piece of paper graphically, you get an image of a business process. Let me take you through a couple more examples. I've got the P/I Impact Matrix versus P/I Impact Assessment- these two mean different. Then I've got some over here- Meetings versus Meeting Management. Meetings can be kickoff meetings, sprint meetings, planning meetings, risk meetings, and so on. Whereas, meeting management is about sending the agenda, sending the invitations, making sure the minutes of the meetings are published and making sure that there are follow-up actions, etc. So, that's the difference between the two.

Inspection from ungrouped: Inspection- how does it compare with similar things like audits or testing and product evaluations? So, an inspection could be a person inspecting a document or a plan or a product. Whereas audit system is much more intense, it goes through compliance checks and all that. Testing and product evaluations, on the other hand, is a structured testing of a product, so you need to be understanding these differences very clearly for the exam.

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And, I think we don't have too much of the communication skills and decision-making, but then one thing you have to be a little careful with is we have got this decision-making with voting and multi-criteria decision analysis. But, if you look at interpersonal skills, we have got a technique known as decision-making there, which is a little different from this one. Out there the decision-making is a normal process of decision making where you consider the various factors and you think about deciding about it. Whereas this is a very specific voting technique and this is a very specific multi-criteria decision analysis technique.

So, we have covered the various categories and we’ve also covered that there are different similar sounding or similar purpose techniques but which are really different. Lastly, I would like to tell you about the same technique that can be used in different situations; let's look at facilitation. If you can have a facilitation workshop in risk management to identify the risk or to analyze risks, and so on. You can also have a facilitation workshop to collect requirement; for example, a joint application development workshop or a QFD (Quality Function Deployment) workshop or a user stories workshop. So, therefore, the same technique of facilitation can be used in different knowledge areas for different purposes.

With that, I have come to the end of this video. I thank you for your valuable time for watching this video. Please, make sure you also see the other ones if you haven't done so. Video number one, which was about the success tips for the exam- it's a set of seven videos. Video number two, a single video about what's important for the exam and video number three was about the part three which is about what's new in the PMBOK Guide Sixth Edition. Particularly, I would urge you to link this topic- tools, and techniques- with video number two which are important topics for the exam; so that you can figure out which are the techniques for those important topics. And, because you are watching all these videos you deserve to be a PMP, you ought to be a PMP.

So, I wish you good luck with your preparation, do solid preparation.

Thank you for watching!

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Muralidhar Gaddam