If you ask any PMP aspirants about the scariest part of the PMP exam, most likely you will get the same answer.
Yes, this is ITTO based questions.
Everybody is scared of ITTO based questions and they are always trying to find a way to solve them. This is a never ending process because there is no shortcut to solve this type of question.
If you are preparing for the PMP exam, you will also be spending your time with these kinds of thoughts, and are afraid that you may fail the exam as a result.
The only option you can think of is to blindly memorize all ITTOs and think it will help you solve this type of question.
Not only you, but almost everybody who is going for the PMP certification exam will have the same thoughts as you do.
The discussion on “how to solve ITTO based questions” has taken place in many PMP related forums, groups and various blogs many times; however, it is still being discussed passionately because none of these forums, groups or blogs deliver the answer to satisfy the nervousness of the PMP aspirants.
Every PMP aspirant is looking for a short cut to solve this kind of question.
Anyway, today in this blog post, I am going to talk about ITTO based questions, my strategy to deal with them, and then finally how you should prepare yourself to handle ITTO based questions.
Okay, let’s get started.
What are ITTO Based Questions?
ITTO stands for Input, Tools & Technique, and Output.
The PMBOK Guide is divided into knowledge areas and each knowledge area has many processes. We know that every process has some input and it gives output with the help of some tools and techniques.
For example, let’s look at the “Create WBS” process. In this process you create the WBS.
Input is something that you will need to create the output. In this case the input will be a scope management plan, a requirement document, and a scope statement, etc. These plans and documents are necessary to create the WBS. Therefore, these are called “input”.
Now you have the required material to create the WBS. The next step is to create the WBS. You will use your experience, knowledge and best judgement and decompose the work into manageable parts, which is called the WBS.
In the decomposition process you have used your experience and knowledge, and this is your “Tools & Techniques”.
Obviously this process was to create the WBS, so the Output will be the “WBS”.
So, you have seen what the Input, Output, and Tools & Techniques are.
Now the question on ITTO may look like this:
What is the output of the Create WBS process?
(a) Risk Register
(b) Project Charter
(c) Stakeholder Register
(d) Scope Baseline
Let’s discuss each option one by one.
Risk register is an output of the Identify Risks process, project charter is an output of the Develop Project Charter process, and stakeholder register is an output of the Identify Stakeholders process.
Clearly, none of them are correct.
And now we are left with the last option, i.e. scope baseline, and this is now our remaining choice but it does not seem to be correct in prima facie. Now, if you dig further into the scope baseline, you will find out that the scope baseline consists of scope statement, WBS, and WBS Dictionary.
Since it consists of WBS and the name of the process is Create WBS, this must be the correct answer.
This is an example of questions based on ITTO which you are going to see in the exam. The questions may also ask for the input of a process or they may give you the name of the process and ask you to identify the correct tool and technique for the given process.
My Strategy to Deal with ITTO Based Questions
Honestly, I never had any strategy to deal with ITTO based questions during my PMP exam preparation. Moreover, I never looked for any strategy, shortcut, or tricks to remember ITTOs.
My focus was on my study materials and the PMBOK Guide. I used to read the books along with the PMBOK Guide. A few times I had drawn my own memory maps to visualize the process flow and find the errors in it. This helped me understand the ITTO and the process flow significantly.
I repeated this process many times, and at the end I was very confident in solving ITTO based questions.
How Should You Prepare Yourself for ITTO Based Questions?
I suggest you to follow the way I used to understand ITTO.
The PMBOK Guide has 47 processes and each process has many ITTO, and believe me, it is really very difficult to memorize all those ITTOs.
In fact, whenever I visit any PMP exam related forum or blog, I see many PMP aspirants are asking questions such as:
- How do I memorize or remember ITTOs?
- How do I solve questions based on ITTOs?
- Is it necessary to memorize ITTO to pass the PMP exam?
In different places, you’ll find different suggestions, tricks and tips, but here I’m going to tell you how you should really deal with ITTO.
Before going any further, let me ask you a few questions:
- Is it really possible for everyone to memorize all ITTOs?
- Does the PMI really want you to memorize these ITTOs to pass the PMP exam?
- Why does the PMI ask questions based on ITTO in the PMP exam?
The PMBOK Guide 5th edition has 10 knowledge areas and these knowledge areas have 47 processes. These processes have hundreds of inputs, tools & techniques and outputs and I doubt that every one of you has the capability to memorize all these ITTOs.
Also, I don’t think the purpose of the PMP exam is to test your memorization power. PMI never designed ITTO to be memorized, and if you are doing this to pass your exam then you are exploiting the whole certification process, and most importantly you’re ignoring the logic behind these ITTOs.
You may think, what is the purpose of ITTO based questions and why does the PMI want you to answer these questions?
In fact, the real intention behind ITTO based questions is to check your understanding about:
- How do the processes flow?
- How are the processes interrelated to one another?
- How do the processes depend on one another?
- How do the processes affect one another?
Therefore, you must take some time to think about it, study the processes in the PMBOK Guide as many times as you can, and visualize the relationship among the processes.
In the above given example where the question is asking about the output of the Create WBS process, although you may guess that the output can be WBS, this option is not given in the answer. The given option is scope baseline which consists of WBS, WBS dictionary, and scope statement.
Therefore the answer will be scope baseline. Likewise there will be many ITTO based questions in the exam where answers will not be clear.
So again, read the PMBOK Guide, understand the concept and try to visualize the process. Trust me, it is not as difficult as it seems.
ITTO based questions constitute a large part of the exam questions and they can help you score in the exam. However, unfortunately many PMP aspirants don’t try to understand the logic behind these ITTO and either avoid them, try to blindly memorize them, or look for tricks and tips to remember these ITTOs.
Please note that these ITTOs are not developed to be memorized; they are created to make you understand the project management processes flow. If you try to memorize or avoid it, you are dismissing all logic behind the ITTO and devaluing the PMP certification process.