Unfortunately, there's no way to really avoid this. You will need to understand how PMI defines the project planning process. In general, PMI defines the project planning process as the development and maintenance of the project plan. That's straightforward. However, it is the 11-step breakdown of core project planning and the inter-relationships among those 11 processes that may be "less than straightforward."
The PMBOK definition of project planning is accurate, complete, and logical. The confusing element is that in our real-life experiences, we simply have not thought about each of these steps in the same way as PMI. It is also possible that we, as project managers, simply execute these steps naturally (or in rare circumstances, perhaps this level of diligence is not always exercised during project planning).
Table 4.1 describes how PMI defines the core project planning process, and the content in this table describes what Figure 4.1 depicts. Note that Table 4.1 provides references back to where these processes can be found in the PMBOK. Pay particular attention to the PMBOK reference terminology.
Figure 4.1. Core project planning process flow.
Table 4.1. Translation of PMI Core Project Planning Process
Planning Step Description
PMBOK Process Reference
Perform a detailed assessment of the requested product and project alternatives. Determine the objectives, products, and deliverables for the project.
5.2: Scope Planning
Break down (decompose) the project deliverables and products into logical chunks (work packages) that can be estimated, resourced, and managed.
5.3: Scope Definition
Once you have the work of the project broken down, you can determine what resources you need to accomplish the work and begin to estimate the effort required.
7.1: Resource Planning
6.1: Activity Definition
For each logical chunk of work (WBS work package), identify each key activity that is required to complete the work.
6.1: Activity Definition
For each activity, estimate the effort to perform the activity.
6.3: Activity Duration Estimating
Once you know your resource requirements and your estimated work efforts, estimate your project costs.
7.2: Cost Estimating
Once you know your key work activities, determine the logical relationships and dependencies between them.
6.2: Activity Sequencing
Once you know the estimated effort/duration for each work activity and the logical relationships between them, a project schedule.
6.4: Schedule Development
Once you know the estimated costs (by resource and work activity effort) and the project schedule, develop the project budget and cost baseline.
7.3: Cost Budgeting
Include the project schedule and cost baseline in the project plan.
4.1: Project Plan Development
To succeed on the exam, you must know the definitions, relationships, key inputs, and outputs for each of the core planning processes detailed in Table 4.1.
The process flow diagram shown in Figure 4.1 illustrates how the steps in Table 4.1 relate to each other. This diagram also demonstrates how the key results (output) from one step are used by the other steps.
The process flow in Figure 4.1 corrects an inconsistency in the PMBOK. The project planning process flow depicted in Section 3.3.2 of the PMBOK does not show a flow from schedule development to cost budgeting, although the information in Section 7.3.1, "Inputs to Cost Budgeting," clearly indicates that the project schedule is a key input to the cost budgeting step.