Complete Guide for PMP Project Description

366
111235
PMP Project Description Examples, Tips, Common Mistakes

Last Updated on December 22, 2023 by andrewshih

The complete reference guide for writing PMP Project Description includes relevant information from PMI, common mistakes, tips, and PMP project description samples.

What to Write for PMP Application Project Description

Completing PMP application properly has been a common challenge for many candidates.  Typically, candidates struggle the most with the PMP project description.  As a matter of fact, PMP candidates failed the PMI audit process primarily because the PMP project description does not meet what the PMI audit committee is looking for.

Personally, I failed the audit once too, so I understand the struggle that many of you are going through.  I assume you are here most likely because either you have failed the audit or you are applying for the first time and looking for additional guidance.

My goal here is to provide you with a complete guide to help you complete the PMP application properly.  I will break down the information as follows:

  • Instruction and tips from PMI
  • Common Mistakes to avoid on PMP Application
  • PMP Project Description Tips
  • Sample PMP Project Description

Instruction and Tips From PMI

Project description tips from PMI

You should first review the PMP application tips provided by PMI.  These are application tips and checklist available on the PMI website.  If you fail the audit (like I did), PMI may give you additional application tips.

Project descriptions should consist of the following:

  • A brief, one-sentence project objective
  • Project deliverables summarized by process areas (Initiating, Planning, Executing, Monitoring and Controlling, and Closing – abbreviations are acceptable IN, PL, EX, MC & CL)
  • A brief, one-sentence project outcome

Common Mistakes to Avoid

Here are common mistakes to avoid in PMP applications.

MISTAKE #1: The project descriptions focus mainly on the project and not your role in leading and directing. The project management methodology used is unclear.

BOTTOM LINE: It can be counter-intuitive that project description is not to describe the project; The focus of the description has to be on the processes and tasks that you lead and the methodologies you applied.

MISTAKE #2: Domains are not included.  The project domains (Initiating, Planning, Executing, Monitoring & Controlling, Closing) and domain-specific deliverables are incomplete.

BOTTOM LINE: Make it easy for PMI audit committee members to read.  You must group the tasks and break them down by domain groups.  Use abbreviations if you need to save space: IN, PL, EX, MC & CL.

MISTAKE #3: Project description is operational.

For example, the objective is to develop workshops and conduct training classes.

BOTTOM LINE: Make sure you understand the difference between Project vs Operation.  PMI defines a project as a temporary endeavor undertaken to create a unique product service, or result. Every project creates a unique product, service or result.  If you have multiple similar projects, you must write each PMP project description separately with distinct project initiation and closing.  Don’t be sloppy and lump projects together and risk your PMP Application being rejected.

MISTAKE #4: Did not have the experience to cover all 5 process groups

BOTTOM LINE: According to the PMBOK guide, “You should have experience in all five process groups across all your project management experience submitted on the application. However, on a single project, you do not need to have experience in all five process groups.

MISTAKE #5: The hours claimed in each process group match the deliverables described.

Updated (June 2020): Mistake #5 is no longer applicable.  PMI waived the 4500/7500 hour requirements and simplified the application process.  Therefore, you no longer have to worry about aligning the hours with your project description.

In case you are curious, here is the original PMP project description rejected by the audit team because it is too descriptive and did not break by domain groups:

Objective: Delivery a successful workshop/demo to XYZ. In order to deliver a successful demo, I was acting as a project manager for managing and working with various groups to set up a complicated demo environment.  The task included planning the prototypes and bug fixes that have to be integrated into the demo environment, coordinate, monitor, and testing the setup.  I also maintained confluence page of the environment and prototypes that were integrated along with status

PMP Porject Description TipsPMP Project Description Tips

In my opinion, the audit committee is looking for 5 things:

  1. Project objective is a brief outline of the project in a brief sentence.
  2. Group each of the tasks into each of the 5 domain areas (Initiate, Plan, Execute, Control, and Close).
  3. Summarize the tasks you did and process you used.
  4. Summarize the methodologies, techniques, and tools you used
  5. Brief outcome statement

Make sure you avoid the common mistakes above, and here are additional tips.

TIP #1 Use descriptions from PMI online application

The following information is extracted from the PMP Online Application.  It provides useful examples you can leverage for your PMP project description in each process area.  For your convenience, you can cut and paste the information below for your own reference.

Initiating the Project

Defining the project scope and obtaining approval from stakeholders. For example: Perform project assessment; define the high-level scope of the project; perform key stakeholder analysis; identify and document high-level risks, assumptions, and constraints; develop and obtain approval for the project charter.

Planning the Project

Preparing the project plan and developing the work breakdown structure (WBS). For example: Assess detailed project requirements, constraints, and assumptions with stakeholders; create the work breakdown structure; develop a project schedule; develop budget, human resource management, communication, procurement, quality management, change management, and risk management plans; present the project plan to the key stakeholders; conduct a kick-off meeting.

Executing the Project

Performing the work necessary to achieve the stated objectives of the project. For example: Obtain and manage project resources; execute the tasks as defined in the project plan; implement the quality management plan; implement approved changes according to the change management plan; implement approved actions by following the risk management plan; maximize team performance.

Controlling and Monitoring the Project

Monitoring project progress, managing change and risk, and communicating project status. For example: Measure project performance using appropriate tools and techniques; manage changes to the project scope, schedule, and costs; ensure that project deliverables conform to the quality standards; update the risk register and risk response plan; assess corrective actions on the issue register; communicate project status to stakeholders.

Closing the Project

Finalizing all project activities, archiving documents, obtaining acceptance for deliverables, and communicating project closure. For example: Obtain final acceptance of the project deliverables; transfer the ownership of deliverables; obtain financial, legal, and administrative closure; distribute the final project report; collate lessons learned; archive project documents and materials; measure customer satisfaction.

TIP #2: Use the 42 tasks defined by the Role Delineation Study

In addition to the sample tasks listed on the online application, you can use the 42 tasks in PMP Exam Outline as a reference to help you write up the tasks.

To make it easier, you can use the PMP Project Description Reference Sheet, where I have already extracted the relevant text from PMP Exam Outline and online application to help you craft the PMP project description.

TIP #3: Focus on projects with the longest duration first.

To minimize the number of PMP project descriptions you need to write, you should focus on projects with the longest duration first.  Minimize small, overlapping projects.  It is perfectly fine to have gaps in the timeline of the projects; You are not writing a resume, and the goal is to satisfy the 3-year or 5-year experience requirement in leading projects, depending on if you have a 4-year bachelor’s degree.

TIP #4: Be brief on the project objective and outcome.  Focus on domain groups.

Most of the effort should be spent on listing the project methodologies that you applied under each of the domain groups.  Keep the objective and outcome brief to avoid becoming too descriptive.  Also, make sure the objective statement is a project and not an operation.

TIP #5: Write in active voice and avoid passive voice.

This is an important one!

You should strive to write sentences in active voice and avoid passive voice.  Writing in the passive voice creates two problems:

  • You are simply describing the project
  • It is unclear if you did the work.

Here is a simple example:

Passive:

Business case and approval were confirmed by the sponsor.

Active:

Confirmed business case and received approval from the sponsor.

In the passive form, you merely indicate the approval took place, but it’s unclear what you did and what your role was for this event to occur.  Whereas in the active form, it is clear that you did even without putting “I” in the sentence.

Not every sentence must be in active voice, but too many passive voice statements will make the PMI audit committee wonder if you did the work.

Bonus Tip: Check out the helpful comments below.

Here is a bonus tip!  A big shout out to Andrés for his comment on the updated PMP project description sample, as well as Maxim’s comment for sharing his experience.  I made both comments “sticky,” so they should appear first in the comment section and make them easier for you to find and share.

Many other PMP aspirants have generously shared their PMP project description samples in the comment section.  Check them out if you need more inspiration.

Finally: Review your application before you submit it

Completing the PMP application is a time-consuming process, and you probably just can’t wait to submit it.  However, you should review your application entirely before you do so.  This step is even more important if you have multiple similar projects and you use cut and paste.  Make sure you verify and do not duplicate the project objective and outcome.

There is a link where you can access your complete application before you click the submit button.  Once you submit and you identify a critical error, the only thing the audit team can do is reject your application, and you will have to complete the whole application again.

PMP Project Description Sample

The PMP project description includes a high-level objective, outcome, and also breaks down the process areas talking about the tasks and some techniques applied.

Update January 8, 2021: I checked with PMI, at least 200 words are the recommended minimum per project description (as stated on the application).  PMI did not confirm if less than 200 words would trigger a rejection, but you should write at least 200 words for each of your project descriptions.

The older style with less than 200 words (or limited to 550 characters) should no longer be used.  Thus, I have to remove my old project description example.  You should also not rely on the shorter samples of project descriptions shared by PMP applicants in the comment section.

Here is the extract of two PMP project description examples with more than 200 words contributed by Andrés and Joy from the comments below.  Please do not copy the project description from the examples; you need to write your own.

Example #1 by Andrés:

Project objective: Audit the *company network* in the Caribbean and Latin America by validating performance, capacity and vulnerabilities, among the customer network with *my company* infrastructure: *Described the platforms involved in the audit*. Support sales department to determine Services offer to operate *company network* according to the results obtained.

Initiating: Performed project assessment. Identified deliverables and milestones. Several meetings were held to identify key stakeholders. Identified and validated the project interdependencies. Documented high-level risks, assumptions and constraints. Developed the project charter and obtained sponsor approval.

Planning: Assessed detailed project requirements, constraints, and assumptions with stakeholders. Collected requirements and defined scope. Planned the scope of the project while considering time, cost and quality. Created the work breakdown structure, decomposed and sequenced activities, and developed the project schedule. Estimated budget. Defined roles and responsibilities of the project team members to create the resources management plan. Identified project team members and defined roles and their responsibilities to create a project organization structure to develop the communication management plan. Conducted kick-off meeting where communicated the start of the project and the key milestones.

Executing: Obtained and managed project resources. Managed, motivated and led the team through execution. Held weekly project teams and key stakeholder meetings. Audited quality. Kept informed stakeholders managing the flow of information.

Monitoring and Controlling: Monitored project progress and communicating project status to stakeholders. Ensured project deliverables conformed to project scope and quality plan. Monitored and assessed the risk of deliverables. Reviewed the issue log.

Closing: Obtained relevant stakeholder’s acceptance. Obtained administrative closure. Created and shared the final project report signed by the sponsor as per the communications management plan. Documented lessons learned and conducted a project review to update the organization’s knowledge base.  Archived final project documents.

Outcomes: Network Audit successfully executed. Results presentation at *company network* headquarters office.

Example #2 by Joy

Project Objective: New product development and market launch of Incontinence product line.

Role: Product Manager / Project Manage

Initiating: Led meetings with project sponsor to define high-level scope, assumptions, deliverables, schedule, cost and key stakeholders. Conducted data gathering and presented market research to show cost benefit analysis for the project. Aligned sponsor and key stakeholders.

Planning: Developed Project Management Plan. Led the team to collect requirements, define scope, activities and developed project schedule by facilitating meetings, brainstorming, data gathering and data analysis. Assigned tasks to project team members. Worked with Procurement department to plan for the selection criteria of sellers. Defined communication plan. Conducted project kick-off.

Executing: Managed project team resources, project work flow and quality audits through execution. Held weekly meetings for status updates with team members and stakeholders. Managed engagement with stakeholders and team members- Procurement, Quality and Design.

Monitoring & Controlling: Monitored the project work and schedule. Ensured quality checklists were conducted to verify deliverables and inspections were done to obtain final approval from sponsor.

Closing: Updated project documents, lessons learned and created final report.

Outcome: Successful completion of a product launch of new product category line of Adult Incontinence products (total 9 items). With the success of this project, our company is extending the product line with new items to develop under this category.

Frequently Asked Questions

I recognize the comment section below is becoming too long to go through, so I have collected the most commonly asked questions by the PMP aspirants.

My projects are all very similar. Can the project descriptions be the same? Will it be negatively received by PMI audit?

Do I have to write the project descriptions using domain groups?

Should I write the project description using 5 domain groups (IN, PL, EX, MC, CL) or 3 domain groups (people, process, business environment) in the project description?

If the projects are very similar (with similar objective and outcome), can I wrap up the projects and write one project description instead of writing multiple project descriptions?

Are too many projects a problem? What about the length of a project? I have projects which span across half a year sometimes and also projects which last only 1 month.

Does the project experience has to acquire via employment? For example, can I use experience such as volunteer work, building my website, or even building a deck for my home?

Can we mention one person’s name for all my projects in primary contact for work experience?

I do not have a Project Management title, will that impact my chance of getting my PMP application accepted?

Can I use industry jargon related to my niche field? Or should I keep a balance?

Next Step – Get Ready for PMP Exam

Once you submit your PMP application, it’s time to ramp up your preparation for the PMP exam.

Bookmark my PMP resource page for your PMP exam preparation. It includes the most comprehensive list of top courses, exam simulators, and free videos that are recommended by PMP aspirants.  And course, the free PMP exam questions too.

If you are looking for a PMP study plan complete with tips and activities, please refer to PMP Certification Success Roadmap.  If you are ready to jump-start and prepare for the PMP Exam, check out the top 9 PMP study tips.

Udemy – The most affordable PMP On-Demand Course

PMP Certification Exam Prep by Andrew Ramdayal

Price: 94.99

Andrew Ramdayal's PMP Certification Exam Prep Course
Andrew Ramdayal’s PMP Cert Course

Andrew Ramdayal’s PMP course has emerged as the favorite Udemy course amongst PMP aspirants.

  • The students find the “project manager mindset” section very helpful for learning to pick the right choice on the exam
  • Engaging training style and easy to understand.
  • The course also included 400 exam-like questions.

PMP Exam Prep Seminar by Joseph Phillips

PRICE: 109.99* $13.99

Joseph Phillips PMP Exam Prep
Joseph Phillips PMP Exam Prep

Joseph Phillips Exam Prep course is highly recommended among PMP aspirants.  The instructor is knowledgeable and the course is well organized.

NOTE: * Udemy offers discounts very often and has frequent price fluctuations.  Please check Udemy for the latest price.

 

PM Prepcast

PM Prepcast Coupon code and Courses

Best PMP Exam Simulator

For most people, including myself, plenty of practice is the best way to retain the learning and understand “PMI-ism.” PM-Prepcast exam simulator is the leader and is highly rated among PMP aspirants.

PM Prepcast typically rotates and offers monthly coupon codes for its product offerings (PMP, Agile, CAPM).  I will include its PMP courses and the latest PMP discount code below if available.

The simulator has been updated for PMBOK 7 with 2280 realistic exam questions, detailed answer keys, and 4 full exams for a realistic exam experience. There are many useful features and also a dashboard to help you track progress and spot weakness. Read the full PM-Prepcast review.

Please refer to PM Prepcast coupons and how to apply the coupon code for more offers and FAQ.

PM Prepcast Courses

    FEATURES

Basic

Elite

Elite PLUS

35 hours of video-based training lessons

Certificate of Completion

25 Agile & Hybrid lessons

Download & Mobile access

Exam simulator with 2,070+ questions (4 full exam + 1350 quiz questions)

PMP Exam Formula Study Guide

PM StudyCoach Guidebook

Price

$279

$349

($79.00 bundle saving)

$389

($117 bundle saving)

PM PrepCast Basic

The PrepCast Basic is a self-paced set of recorded video lessons that satisfies 35 contact hour requirements and can be accessed online or downloaded to a mobile device such as laptops, tablets, or smartphones using a podcast app. Learn More.

PM PrepCast Elite

In addition to the on-demand training lessons in Basic, this package gives you 90-day access to The PM Exam Simulator so you can practice what you have learned. You save $79 when you purchase this bundle compared to buying separately. Learn More.

PM PrepCast Elite PLUS

The PM PrepCast Elite Plus includes everything in the Elite package, plus the PM StudyCoach Guidebooks, and the PM Formula Guides.  With the formula guide, you get a formula guide, a formula cheat sheet, and additional 105 practice questions. You save $117 with this complete package. Learn More.


PMP Boot Camp Online Training

If you prefer live classroom or virtual training with support from the instructor, you may want to look into the PMP boot camp courses.  In this article, you can find a side-by-side comparison of PMTraining, GreyCampus, and Project Management Academy PMP boot camp online courses.


Lastly – If You Need More Help.

If you are still stuck or want me to review your project description or have specific questions, you can reach out to me with your project description.  Please use the contact form.

If you have a general question related to PMP application that may benefit other PMP aspirants, feel free to comment below.   Good luck!

Next articlePMP Audit Preparation
Welcome to PMAspirant, and Congratulations for taking the initiative to embark on your PMP journey. I received my PMP certification in 2017 and created PMAspirant to help PMP aspirants by providing lessons learned, tips, and resources for the PMP application and exam. I hope you find the resource helpful, and best of luck with your PMP journey.
Subscribe
Notify of
guest

366 Comments
Newest
Oldest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments