Many of the PMP® aspirants look at Enterprise Environmental factors and Organization Process Assets as an input to most of the project management processes and many times they get confused about why one thing falls under Enterprise Environmental factor (EEF) and not in Organization process assets (OPA) vice versa. Let us begin by understanding the basics and resolve the confusion surrounding EEF and OPA.

Let’s understand, EEF PMBOK® Guide Fifth Edition defines it as

Enterprise Environmental Factors.
Conditions, not under the immediate control of the team, that influence, constrain, or direct the project, program, or portfolio.

As defined in definition EEF are conditions which are given, they are coming from an environment, the project team has no control over them, but project team needs to understand them well to successfully manage the project.  Here are a few examples

  1. Organization is investing heavily in mobile based development for next 5 years, since its in a strategy to develop market share in Mobile domain
  2. Organization if following matrix organization structure, where as Development function head is more powerful than other function heads.
  3. The organization is using the XYZ project management system, project reports will be taken out of it for management reviews.
  4. The organization follows strict reporting time policy, employees must report to the office by 9:00 AM, late coming results in a deduction of leaves.
  5. The organization has very skilled engineer, but the workers lack motivation
  6. Organization is managed very informally, people take approval for big expenses over the phone

 

What about OPAs’, PMBOK® Guide Fifth Edition  defines it as

Organizational Process Assets.
Plans, processes, policies, procedures, and knowledge bases that are specific to and used by the performing organization.

The organization process assets are collection of learning and artifacts which has been accumulated by the performing organization since they started working on projects. Historic information about projects and lesson learned are part of the OPA. Some of the examples are

  1. Checklists made based on learning in previous projects
  2. Lesson Learned database
  3. Historic records of projects like issue log, risk register, schedule data etc.
  4. Templates for project documents and plans
  5. Recommended workflows or processes for Change Management, configuration management, defect management etc.
  6. Process Measurement database

It is quite evident that EEF and OPA represent a different aspect which is used while planning or monitoring projects, let us look into some clear pointers which helps us in knowing the difference between EEF and OPA.

Enterprise Environmental Factors Vs. Organization Process Assets

Enterprise Environmental Factors (EEF)Organization Process Assets (OPA)
Always followed, they may be written or not, but they are always in action, they are not in control of the team.Is recommendation, but not necessarily always followed, you may have ethics policy which is not followed by the organization, it still remains OPA but the ethics which are followed are EEF
Project Processes are influence by EEF,  they do not change EEF (except Develop Project Team and Manage Project Team  where we build skills and add to organization future capability)All planning processes take OPA as a an inputs, but as we get into executing, Monitoring and Controlling  and Closing processes  we start updating  OPA,  since the learning made in this project goes back to into OPA
EEF limits the project managers options, because they tell what can work and what can notOPA facilitates the project management, they come with best practices and information which can help project execution
EEF is very difficult to change, changing EEF will need big organization level change management,  can we change the risk appetite of stakeholder? Or can we change the 9 AM rule?The OPA can be changed by following the process defined in the organization, they are easier to change and they are meant to be changed

 

 Frequently Asked Questions on Enterprise Environmental Factors Vs. Organization Process Assets

Q. Why Project Management Information System (PMIS) is an Organization environmental factor, why not OPA, it is an asset bought by the organization?
A. Even the building bought by the organization is an asset and it comes under EEF, also the skills possessed by human resources are an Enterprise Environmental factor (EEF) too. The system available in the organization gives your project an environment to work in, In this case PMIS is providing you backbone for your project management activities, when you plan your project management plan you need to take into account how your PMIS is organized. The templates, configuration made in PMIS is OPA, say you have a scheduling system, it’s an EEF, but in the same system you have created four standard templates which team can use, these schedule templates are OPA.

Q. Are Industry Standards are EEF or OPA?
A. The standards managed and controlled by industry or industrial body / association falls under EEF, since they are managed by external parties, project team cannot change them and many times project teams are constrained by them. So it’s an EEF

Q. Why Work authorization system (WAS) is EEF, it is defined by the organization should not it be OPA?
A. Systems which are defined at organization level falls under EEF, because they are not project specific system, they limits your project execution, like if WAS requires some set of approvals, project team has to plan for them, you can not change WAS for a given project. The work authorization system is a subsystem of the overall project management system, and project management system also falls under EEF.

Q. Process Measurement Databases like productivity metrics, is it an Enterprise Environmental Factor or Organization Process asset?
A. Since its an historic data, it is part of the OPA, but the general attitude of people towards work and their skills falls under EEF. For instance, if you have a team of people who are not trained in the tool provided, it’s an EEF, and when you look at records of the organization to find out what is the average productivity number it is OPA.

Q. In PMBOK® Guide the Policies and procedures are mentioned in Enterprise Environmental Factor (EEF) and Organization Process Assets (OPA) both? So where are they actually?
A. Yes, we do have this confusion and we need to take a question specific call, following points may help in deciding whether a given policy is OPA or EEF.

  1. Policy & procedures related to doing the project specific work should fall under OPA, since they are more like guiding factors.
  2. Policy and Procedures of the organization like employment, recruitment policy, employee retrenchment policy comes under EEF, since they are the factors which you need to consider and as a project manager, you cannot update them.
  3. The policies and procedures which are practices are EEF, all documented policies and procedures, even not followed are part of the OPA, you may have an ethics policy, but not followed, what ethics people follow in organization are EEF and all documented are OPA.

Think EEF more like something is surrounded around project while you are working, and take OPA as lessons, tools, checklist which organization has acquired based on learning from past projects. I do not think one will get questions where they need to identify is the XYZ Policy is EEF or OPA in exam. Good understanding of the intent of these two terms should help you in cracking PMP®.

You may watch video on the same which would further demystify the enterprise environmental factors Vs. organization process assets.

 

You may also join the discussion on the same in our discussion Discussion Forum. You can also log into our YouTube channel watch the video on the related topics.