The Affinity Diagram: PMP Planning Tools that You Should Know

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Image by Parul Vora

The Seven Management and Planning Tools are Process Decision Program Charts (PDPC), interrelationship digraphs, tree diagrams, prioritization matrices, activity network diagrams, matrix diagrams, and affinity diagrams.

Also known as KJ Diagrams, affinity diagrams were first created by Jiro Kawakita in the 1960s. Here are some things you should know for affinity diagram PMP questions on the exam.

What?

Affinity diagrams help organize ideas during a brainstorming session. While adding information to the diagram, it’s important to consider the various categories that the information fits in to keep everything organized.

Why?

Some of the things that an affinity diagram helps analyze include:

  • Information
  • Problems/issues
  • Solutions
  • Opinions

This is done by looking for patterns in the way the information is grouped. Because of this, the diagram also facilitates the creation of a fishbone diagram to analyze the cause and effect of the different variables.

When?

Although you shouldn’t use an affinity diagram when working with small amounts of data, there are various times when this diagram is more beneficial to use.

First off, this type of diagram is useful when you have large amounts of data that isn’t sorted or organized yet. Also, it’s helpful when you need help generating more ideas or clarifying your thought process and ideas.

Some of the questions that you could answer with the help of an affinity diagram includes:

  • How can we improve employee training?
  • Why has customer satisfaction declined?
  • Why are consumer complaints on the rise?
  • How can we improve the network reliability?

How?

While completing an affinity diagram, you would typically use the following 5 steps:
1. First, gather together a team of people with different areas of expertise for a brainstorming session. Have these people write ideas on notecards.
2. Then, identify the purpose for brainstorming. Generate major categories for the information.
3. Next, place the notecards under the categories as appropriate.
4. Then, prioritize the information, and put the ideas in descending order.
5. Finally, analyze the results and present them to the client.

As a result of being one of the Seven Management and Planning Tools, affinity diagrams are important to know about for the PMP exam. Use these diagrams to help you organize information to solve problems throughout the course of your project.

How have you used affinity diagrams in your position as a project manager? Tell us about your experience and how you’re studying affinity diagram PMP topics in the comments below.

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