PMP Certification: Define Activities (based on PMBOK® Guide, 6th Edition)


  • WHAT Define Activities Is. Define Activities implies determining how the project work breaks down into activities.
  • WHY Define Activities Is Important. When performing the Define Activities process, a project manager breaks down the work packages into smaller, more manageable units of work – activities – that can be easily assigned, estimated, scheduled, and controlled.
  • WHEN Define Activities Is Executed. The Define Activities process is often implemented after a Work Breakdown Structure (WBS) is stabilized. However, a project manager can create a WBS and define activities in parallel, taking down the WBS one more level to show activities, instead of work packages.
  • HOW Define Activities Operates.
pmp 2018 pmp certification define activities pmbok guide 6th edition tipsographic main

Define Activities 101

What Does Define Activities Involve and When Do You Perform It in a Project Life Cycle?


  • WHAT Define Activities Is. Define Activities implies determining how the project work breaks down into activities.
  • WHY Define Activities Is Important. When performing the Define Activities process, a project manager breaks down the work packages into smaller, more manageable units of work – activities – that can be easily assigned, estimated, scheduled, and controlled.
  • WHEN Define Activities Is Executed. The Define Activities process is often implemented after a Work Breakdown Structure (WBS) is stabilized. However, a project manager can create a WBS and define activities in parallel, taking down the WBS one more level to show activities, instead of work packages.
  • HOW Define Activities Operates.
InputsTools and techniquesOutputs
  1. Project management plan
    • Schedule management plan
    •  Scope baseline
  2. Enterprise environmental factors
  3. Organizational process assets
  1. Expert judgment
  2. Decomposition
  3. Rolling wave planning
  4. Meetings
  1. Activity list
  2. Activity attributes
  3. Milestone list
  4. Change requests
  5. Project management plan updates
    • Schedule baseline
    • Cost baseline

Source: PMBOK® Guide, 6th ed., Chapter 6, section 6.2, p. 183.

Define Activities Key Terms

What Are the Key Terms to Fully Understand the Process of  Defining Activities?


  • Activity. A unique, scheduled task that must be executed to complete work on the project.
  • Activity Attributes. A complete description of the activity, such as activity codes, predecessor activities, and successor activities.
  • Activity List. A list of all the activities that must be accomplished to deliver the work packages.
  • Milestone List. A list of significant points or events in the project.
  • Rolling Wave Planning. A form of progressive elaboration that focuses on planning the imminent project activities in more detail than activities further in the future.

Define Activities Tips

What Are the Best Tips to Answer Correctly the PMP CCertificationExam Questions on Define Activities Process?


  • Task. The terms activity and task can be used interchangeably.
  • Work Breakdown Structure Vs. Activity List. The Work Breakdown Structure is the output of Create WBS process and is made up of deliverables – nouns. The activity list is the output of Define Activities process and is made up of activities – verbs.

Click here for a detailed analysis of each project management process group and knowledge area.

SOURCES: Project Management Institute (2017). A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK® Guide). 6th ed. Newtown Square: Project Management Institute.

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Hi, I am Stefania, hearth and keyboard behind Tipsographic, a free online resource for everybody interested in project management and agile. I specialize in project management tips, tools, and tricks. When I'm not writing, you can find me road cycling around Tuscany or spending time with friends and family.

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