PMP® certification Exam - Important terms and concepts - Part - I

PMP® certification Exam - Important terms and concepts - Part - I


Last updated September 20, 2017


The PMP® certification exam is a tough one! It tests your knowledge and your ability to apply that knowledge in various scenarios. If you’re working toward your PMP certification, you should cultivate the best possible understanding of all the knowledge areas, process groups, and processes outlined in the PMBOK® Guide before you try to take the PMP exam.

The PMBOK Guide version 5 covers ten knowledge areas, 47 processes, and five process groups. But even before you begin learning about those ten knowledge areas, you should get a complete understanding of some important terms and concepts used throughout the PMBOK Guide. Doing so can help you reduce study time!


The baseline plans include the originally approved project management plan plus all approved changes. The baseline plan is useful in measuring how actual results deviate from the plan. Baselines can and will change throughout the project lifecycle as changes are approved. Baselines also apply to other measured areas such as performance and quality.


Criteria are objective measures for accepting or judging quality.


Deliverables are a part of the product or the product itself, presented to the customer or stakeholders for acceptance. The PMBOK Guide version 4, defines deliverables as “any unique and verifiable product, result, or capability to perform a service that must be produced to complete a process, phase, or project.” They are major outputs of the Direct and Manage Project Execution process, and may be classified as internal or external deliverables.

  • Internal deliverables are usually deliverables which the project generates internally, and which make a project run, but are not typically a part of the product that the end users are interested in seeing. Project Management, Configuration Management, Training, and Testing are some examples of internal deliverables.
  • External Deliverables are usually those that the project delivers to the users or the client. An external deliverable could be an IT system and subsystems that it consists of or the resulting organizational transition and benefits from a project to reduce the turnaround time of a process. Deliverables are further broken out into work packages in the Create WBS process.


An estimate could be best described as a numerical representation of cost or time. Project estimates should always specify the confidence or expected margin of error; for instance, an estimate for the design of a software module could be +-50%.

Project Management

Project Management is the application of knowledge, skills, tools, and techniques to project activities to meet the project’s objectives. Project Management is achieved through the appropriate application and integration of processes and process groups.

Program Management

Program management is defined as a centralized management of a program to achieve the program’s strategic objectives. A program is defined as a group of related projects managed in a coordinated way to obtain the benefits of and control not available from managing the projects individually. A project may or may not be a part of a Program, but a program may consist of multiple projects.

Portfolio Management

Portfolio management refers to the centralized management of one or more portfolios, which includes identifying, managing, prioritizing, authorizing and controlling projects, programs, and other activities, to achieve strategic business objectives. A portfolio contains several programs or projects that may not be interdependent, and usually refers to a collection of projects and programs and other activities that are grouped to meet strategic business objectives. Portfolio Management is primarily focused on ensuring that projects and programs are reviewed, to prioritize resource allocation, and management of portfolio is consistent with and aligned with strategies within the organization.

Project Lifecycle

Project Lifecycle is a group of project phases specified by the project management methodology used by any organization. The project lifecycle is made up of project phases viewed as a whole. Projects are divided into phases in order to create logical management and decision points.


Phases are groupings of project activities. Many projects are divided into two or more phases in order to provide a point where the deliverables can be evaluated. Phases may be separated into Exit Gates or Kill points. Exit Gates or Kill points can be useful in determining whether or not the next phase is ready to be initiated.


Process is a set of inputs, tools, and techniques are used together to produce one or more specific outputs for the project. There are 47 processes which outlined in detail in the PMBOK Guide Version 5. Each process is outlined in such a manner that it belongs to one Project management knowledge area and one process group.

Project Management Information System (PMIS)

The Project Management Information System can be used to support all aspects of a project, from initiating to closing, and can include manual or automated systems. It is a repository of information and a tool that is used for communication and tracking.

Progressive Elaboration

Progressive elaboration is an iterative approach where planning occurs in cycles rather than upfront. Projects that use progressive elaboration are known to typically do some planning, a bit of execution, some monitoring and controlling, and then repeat the cycle. Project plans are usually progressively elaborated in most projects, i.e., they are developed, refined, revisited, and updated.


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About the Author

Sabyasachi has over a decade’s experience in leading IT and non IT projects in the Healthcare, Oil and Energy, eCommerce, Public Sector Undertaking and Services industry . He is a PMI certified Project Management Professional , PMP, and a volunteer in the Project management community with a focus on best practice and mentoring other project management professionals . His writings are regularly published in several blogs , forums and online project management communities.

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