01. Foundational Terms and Concepts

Before jumping into the ten Knowledge Areas and over 1,400 inputs, it’s important to have a basic understanding of the concepts and terms you’ll continually see throughout the PMP study material. 

A majority of this content is term heavy, while near the end you’ll be introduced to what a methodology is and why Agile has been introduced into this year’s PMP update (v.6). 

49 Processes

These create necessity or value from its three ingredients:


The raw material, or starting point, for a process

Tools & Techniques

Actions or methods that turn Inputs into Outputs


End of the efforts. Could be a document, product, service, or result. Each process has at least one output.

Each of these ingredients have a number of options to choose from, which will change based on the Knowledge Area being worked.

It should be noted that each of the three Ingredients are done in a sequential order (Inputs -> Tools & Techniques -> Outputs), while any number of Processes can be done in parallel.

Project vs. Program vs. Portfolio

There are distinct differences between the three types of structures


  • Unique and limited by a timeline
  • Does not need to include the Operations department
  • Creates change through a product, service, or result


  • Group of related projects in order to realize a benefit otherwise not seen
  • Operations department should be included
  • All programs are made up of projects but not all projects fit under a program


  • Represents entire investment in programs and projects
  • Always directed aligned with organization’s strategic goals

Additional Terms

Progressive Elaboration – Not all characteristics are known of a project at the start. All plans are expected to be revisited and revised often. This is highly favored on the PMP exam.

Historical Information – this is typically referred to Organizational Process Assets. These are records of documents and processes that can be used in later projects to help benchmark, predict trends, and avoid mistakes. Because of this, they are typically used the most during planning activities.

Baseline – The original plan plus all approved changes. This is used within Scope, Schedule, Cost, Performance, and Planning Knowledge Areas.

Lessons Learned - Gathered at the end of each phase or at the end of a project. Focuses on the variances between the plan and the results. This is considered an Organizational Process Asset.

Regulation - Official document that is mandatory.

Standard - Document that provides guidelines that is not mandatory.

System - Incorporates all formal procedures and tools: checks & balances, processes, forms, software, etc…