In project management, it is important to distinguish between output and outcome.
The output is a term one uses to represent the output of a process or a project. In the PMBOK® Guide – Fundamentals of Project Management, the definition of the output of the project is:
- A product, such a physical facility,
- A service, such as a consultancy or training program, or
- A result, representing the work of research and development, such as a textbook.
On the other hand, outcome is different, and the term is used to represent the results or benefits of the project. In other words, the outcome is about delivering on the business case, the objective that the project was authorized in the first place. It is about realizing the expected benefits.
- Delivering a software application is a product, an output. If the objective of the application is to reduce processing time of a transaction by 25%, then the outcome would be – did the application deliver this reduction in time?
- Providing the facilities for a real estate project is an output. An outcome would be: did the project owner realize the benefits of the project; achieving the return on investment, break even point, or any other success criteria define.
If we refer to the The Four Dimensions of Project Success | by SUKAD, the output is about the success of the “product”, product here meaning the output. This is a technical dimension, and it is the first dimension in the model.
The fourth dimension is about the outcome and if the project delivered on its objectives.
Now the PMP
We think it would be realistic to consider Achieving the PMP | PMP Exam Prep as a goal. Before we go on, we need to agree on a basis for the discussion. Is the objective of a professional to achieve the PMP – meaning – is the goal the actual certificate? For some maybe yes and the certificate is the objective. In this case, the output and outcome will coincide.
However, we like to think, that those who are pursuing the PMP they are doing so because they are expecting some benefits. These benefits could be a salary increase, a bonus, a promotion, or a better job. For some, the PMP could also be to enhance performance. In this case, the output is achieving the PMP but the outcome is about the benefits realized by achieving the PMP. Therefore, we ask, did the PMP training and/or obtaining the PMP deliver the benefits?
Other questions – not in the survey:
- If you did not realize the financial benefits from the PMP, did you achieve the improved performance?
- Could there be other ways to achieve enhanced performance without the time and money investment for the PMP?
What do you think?