If you’re casually reading the PMBOK Guide — first of all, who are you? — then you might notice that Organizational Process Assets (OPAs) and Enterprise Environmental Factors (EEFs) are mentioned pretty much all of the time, especially as inputs to most planning processes. That’s a good reason for you, future PMP and current non-casual PMBOK reader, to brush up on OPAs and EEFs pretty early on in your study plan.
Organizational process assets (OPAs) “are the plans, processes, policies, procedures, and knowledge bases specific to and used by the performing organization” (PMBOK Guide, 27). PMBOK further breaks OPAs down into (1) process and procedures and (2) corporate knowledge base. You might know process and procedure OPAs as your financial close at the end of the month, project schedules, or contract templates, among many, many others. Corporate knowledge base OPAs might be financial databases, lessons learned from previous projects, or even actual project documents from those projects.
Enterprise environmental factors (EEFs) “refer to conditions, not under the control of the project team that influence, constrain, or direct the project” (PMBOK Guide, 29). Think that’s a pretty broad definition? Well, you’re right — EEFs can be anything from organizational culture to existing infrastructure to staff skill levels to risk tolerance!
Here’s a quick test — is it an OPA or EEF?
- Organizational norms
- Financial software
- Financial information
- Project sponsor’s appetite for risk
- Human resources
No peeking! The answers are below:
- Organizational norms – EEF
- Financial software – EEF
- Financial information – OPA
- Templates – OPA
- Project sponsor’s appetite for risk – EEF
- Human resources – EEF
So, have you figured out the major difference? OPAs are always of positive support to the project, while EEFs can have a positive or negative impact on the project.
An easy way to remember:
- OPAs are “Assets,” which are always good for your project!
- EEFs are “Factors,” which can be good or bad for your project.
Let’s do some practice questions to help you think through OPA vs. EEF.
Organizational Process Assets & Enterprise Environmental Factors Questions
1. Organizational process assets & enterprise environmental factors are inputs to most processes in which process group?
D. Monitoring and Controlling
2. Which is a list of OPAs?
A. Risk register template, change control procedures, and process measurement databases
B. Risk register template, change control procedures, and company work authorization systems
C. Change control procedures, company work authorization systems, and organizational communication requirements
D. Company work authorization systems, organizational communication requirement, and process measurement databases.
3. In what way can EEFs influence the Plan Procurement Management Process?
A. A company may choose a Fixed-Price or Cost-Reimbursed contract.
B. Companies may consider prequalified sellers based on previous experience.
C. Companies use formal procurement policies and procedures.
D. Market conditions can affect make-or-buy decisions.
Organizational Process Assets & Enterprise Environmental Factors Answers
1. B – Planning.The PMBOK Guide notes that both OPAs and EEFs are input to most planning processes (27, 29). This factoid is helpful to know as you think about understanding inputs to process for your PMP exam.
2. A – Risk register template, change control procedures, and process measurement databases. The only EEF in all of the answers is the “company work authorization system,” so the answer must be A. The best way to answer this question is by really understanding the difference between OPA and EEF through lots of practice questions. Here’s some reasoning that you’ll be able to do when you are really familiar with both:
- The risk register template and change control procedures help you because you do not have to create a template or procedure from scratch.
- Process measurement databases are sources of historical information and therefore helpful too.
- It can be easy to mistake organizational communication requirements as an EEF because there can be constraints in who can communicate with who. Consider, however, that the communication requirements have been developed to make sure that all parties receive their relevant information. Therefore, it is an OPA.
- Often, EEFs involve constraints on human resources. A company work authorization system is an EEF because it is a constraint on you having access to a resource to assist your project.
3. D – Market conditions can affect make-or-buy decisions. This question is tricky for this article because it tests your knowledge of procurement management too. You’re likely to see OPAs and EEFs appear in this type of context on your PMP exam. Rather than asking you directly about an OPA or EEF, you will need to choose from a list of options as they apply to a particular context. The PMBOK guide notes that market conditions are an EEF that can influence Plan Procurement Management (362). If you weren’t sure which was an EEF, then go through the others and eliminate them as OPAs. Contracts are templates companies have created, prequalified sellers are good sellers based on past experience, and policies and procedures are typically OPAs. It must be D!
Any other questions on OPAs and EEFs? Share, and we’ll discuss!
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