If you have a slight interest in the field of project management, there’s a high chance that you’ve at least heard about the term “ITTO.” ITTO stands for Inputs, Tools & Techniques, and Outputs. In this article, we will provide you with your own ITTO spreadsheet and teach you how to use it.
ITTOs appear in PMI’s PMBOK (Project Management Body of Knowledge), the primary reference book that PMP (Project Management Professional), or the CAPM (Certified Associate of Project Management) aspirants use in their preparation phase.
Continue reading to learn more about what the ITTOs are and how you can use the ITTO spreadsheet to master them. You can also download our ITTO spreadsheet below.
What Are ITTOs?
ITTO stands for (Inputs, Tools, Techniques, and Outputs). There are over 600 ITTOs, which makes this one of the most challenging parts of the PMBOK Guide book that many people struggle with. You’re expected to be aware of all of them in the PMP exam.
Some people suggest that you memorize all of them, but that’s simply impossible for most people. What you should do is to try to understand the logical relationships between them and how they relate to project processes. It’s about understanding when to use the most appropriate ITTO rather than memorizing all of them.
The ITTO Spreadsheet
The ITTO spreadsheet is a more convenient way of learning the ITTOs. Instead of going back and forth between the book chapters for cross-reference, you get all the ITTOs in one place. This can help you save a considerable amount of time and allow you to learn the ITTOs easily.
Why Do I Need ITTOs?
Before you begin learning about the ITTOs, you must first know why they were created in the first place.
The PMBOK Guide is based on ten knowledge areas, which are:
- Project Scope Management
- Project Integration Management
- Project Quality Management
- Project Schedule Management
- Project Cost Management
- Project Resource Management
- Project Communications Management
- Project Risk Management
- Project Procurement Management
- Project Stakeholder Management
Each of these knowledge areas is supported by 5 project processes, translating into a total of 49 processes. Using a completely different way to apply each of these processes can be a mess and makes things unnecessarily complicated.
That’s where ITTOs come into place. ITTOs are simply a standardized method that can help you develop and execute project processes using a systematic approach. Instead of having to understand a unique way to apply each of the project processes, you just have to master the ITTOs.
Most of the ITTOs keep showing up over and over again for any of the project processes. Once you know and understand all the necessary vocabulary, you should have no problem answering ITTO questions in the PMP exam.
In short, each project process has inputs, which, with the right tools and techniques, result in outputs for that specific process.
How to Master the ITTO Spreadsheet
Creating an ITTO spreadsheet is an excellent way for you to understand all the ITTOs and how they logically relate to project processes and to each other. It’s simply a list of all the ITTOs in the PMBOK Guide, coupled with several tips that can help you get a grasp on them.
The ITTO spreadsheet is quite big, and merely looking at it can be very overwhelming. Luckily, it’s meant to simplify the process, not make it harder. Here some guidelines that you can follow to be able to comprehend the spreadsheet:
Study 2 Processes/Day
It can be quite challenging for you to understand how the ITTOs are related to all of the 49 project processes at once. Your mind simply won’t be able to process all of that information. Instead, start by studying only two processes each day. You can also do one process/day if you think that you’re moving too fast.
A helpful technique is to revisit the two processes you studied the previous day before understanding the new processes. This way, you’ll be able to notice the similarities between them and how ITTOs are used to apply them.
Understand the Purpose of ITTOs
Memorizing ITTOs won’t be helpful to you. You need to know the purpose of each ITTO and how it relates to each process.
For instance, if you’re developing the project plan (a process), it should come to your mind that you need a project charter (an input). Imagine if you don’t understand what a project charter is, then it becomes common sense that you won’t realize that it’s used as an input in this particular project process.
Use Blank ITTO Sheets
Create a blank ITTO sheet, print a hard copy of it, and then start writing down all the ITTOs. This may seem like an ancient studying technique that’ll just make you waste more time, but that’s simply not true. Writing is a great way to help you learn and remember what you’ve studied.
By writing down the ITTOs, you’ll begin to notice that most of them are more or less the same across all project processes. You’ll also realize that the outputs of some processes serve as inputs to other ones. They’re all connected in some form, and looking at them on a computer screen won’t help you notice that.
Understand the Patterns
While learning about the ITTOs, you may start to notice some patterns and interrelations between them. We can give you a few hints so that you can spot them earlier and make the studying process easier for you:
- The “Project Management Plan,” “Org. Process Assets,” and “Enterprise Environmental Factors” are some of the most common inputs to almost all processes.
- Anything with the phrase “Work Performance Data” is usually an input to the “Monitoring” process except for “Integration.” In contrast, the phrases “Changes Requests” and “Work Performance Info” are outputs of the same processes.
- Anything that contains the word “Updates” is most likely an output, like “PMP Updates” and “Project Documents Updates.”
- “Expert Judgment,” “Meetings,” and “Data Analysis” are used as tools or techniques in a big percent of processes.
- Specific plans like “Risk Management Plan” are highly likely to be outputs of processes that start with the word “Plan.”
- Anything with the word “System” is most likely a tool.
- Inputs and outputs are documents, while tools and techniques are usually actions.
Again, you shouldn’t need to memorize these patterns. If you think about it, you’ll notice that these patterns are pretty logical. It makes sense for something like “Data Analysis” to be a tool since it’s used to get insights to help you obtain outputs. Similarly, updates are usually a result of extensive research and work, which is why anything with the word “Updates” is an output.
Make a List of the Most Common ITTOs
Some ITTOs appear very frequently. By making a list of them, you’ll understand how they’re related to the processes and make learning the rest of the ITTOs easier for you.
Create a Dynamic ITTO Spreadsheet
Using a dynamic ITTO spreadsheet is a more advanced and effective way to understand the ITTOs. Instead of creating a static spreadsheet, a dynamic ITTO spreadsheet allows you to search for specific keywords.
This way, only the ITTOs that contain this specific keyword will be shown to you. If you want to know all the outputs that have the word “Updates” in them, simply type the word into the search box, and only these outputs will appear to you. You can do the same for all the ITTOs.
Make sure you download our ITTO Spreadsheet below if you haven’t done so already.
How to Answer ITTO-Based Questions
Now comes the easy part: answering the ITTO-based questions. We’re saying easy because if you stick to the ITTO studying techniques we’ve discussed, you’ll be able to master them in no time, and the exam questions will be a walk in the park for you. Nevertheless, it doesn’t hurt to give you a hint just to make you feel more confident during the exam.
The purpose behind ITTO questions is to test your understanding of how processes flow, in addition to how they interrelate, depend on, and affect one another. Asking yourself these questions is key to helping you answer the actual ITTO questions. Draft these questions before you start the exam and keep them in your mind.
After reading this guide, you should be able to grasp the ITTO spreadsheet flawlessly. Don’t memorize the ITTOs, as this is probably the worst and least practical idea ever. Not to mention, it defeats the whole purpose behind creating the ITTOs.
Keep in mind that the real benefit of getting certified is to prepare yourself or increase your ability to lead projects and complete them successfully, not just to pass the exam. Following such techniques only devalues the certification and will make your job harder.
Remember, ITTOs take time to master. They’re not something that you can learn overnight; you need to be patient. Take it slow, and you’ll eventually understand everything you need to know about ITTOs.
Finally, if you’re looking to pass your PMP exam as painlessly as possible, be sure to sign up for our free PMP course to learn how you can get certified in the next 6 weeks.