Enterprise Environmental Factors Vs. Organization Process Assets

  • Organizational Influences and Project Life Cycle
  • PMP®
Created on :
June 24, 2014
Saket Bansal
Updated on :
October 8, 2022
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Many of the PMP® certification 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.

As per the PMBOK® Guide

Enterprise Environmental Factors are Conditions,not under the direct control of the team, that influence, compel, 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

As per the PMBOK® Guide

Organizational Process Assets are the Plans, processes 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 not OPA 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.

Q. What is EEF (Enterprise environmental factors)?

A. Enterprise environmental factors are the factors which influence our project. The simplest way to look at EEF in project management is the environmental factors are not in control of the project manager, and they cannot be changed that easily so if the industry is not having a database of something you cannot create it.

Q. What is OPA (Organization process assets)?

A. Organization process assets include Knowledgebase and organization level processes and procedures. The knowledge base is a collection of the lessons learned, risk register, defect history, and project management database of past projects. Process and procedures include documents, templates, recommended project life cycle and change management process to be followed while planning and executing new projects.

The organization process asset is something which is like a good recommendation coming from the organization which you may or may not use.

Q. What is Internal environment and External environment in EEF?

A. EEF can be categorized under two broad categories – Internal environment and External environment.

The internal environment are factors internal to the organization and project. It includes -Organizational culture, structure, and governance like ethics, and code of conduct, the geographical distribution of the team, Infrastructure, Information Technology software used in the organization, subcontractors, and collaboration agreements.

The external environment are outer factors affecting the organization and project. It includes-

Marketplace conditions like market share brand recognition,  Social and cultural influences like political climate and legal restrictions, Commercial databases, Government or industry standards like regulatory agency regulations and Physical environmental elements like working conditions.

Think EEF more like something is surrounded around the 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 the exam. A good understanding of the intent of these two terms should help you in cracking the PMP® exam.

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