Enterprise Environmental Factors (EEF) Organizational Process Assets (OPA)

Though the nature of a project is temporary, they are not performed in isolation. They work in a controlled environment and affected by Enterprise Environmental Factors (EEF) and Organizational Process Assets (OPA).

The Project Management Institute terms them as influences. Enterprise environmental factors can be internal or external, while organizational process assets are always internal to an organization.

Enterprise environmental factors and organizational process assets are widely discussed in the PMBOK Guide and are inputs of almost all processes. You must have a thorough understanding of these terms.

Although the concepts are straightforward, many PMP aspirants fail to understand them and often make mistakes on the exam.

Please note that you may or may not see a direct question on these topics in the exam but having a better understanding about EEF and OPA will undoubtedly help you on your test.

Enterprise Environmental Factors (EEF)

enterprise environmental factor (eef)

First, we should understand the word “environment” before we start to discuss enterprise environment factors.

You can define the environment as anything that is related to the natural world and the impact of human activity or its condition, or the culture that an individual lives in, and the people and institutions with whom they interact (Wikipedia).

Since we live in an environment, it influences our behavior in a certain way.

For instance, in cold weather we need to wear woolen clothes to keep ourselves warm. The cold weather is the “environment” that forces us to cover ourselves with woolen clothes.

This is the impact of a cold environment on us.

Now we come to enterprise environmental factors. 

Enterprise environmental factors are the influences not under the control of the organization or the project management team that affect the organization, the project, and its outcome. Every organization has to exist and work within the EEF.

These influences may have positive or negative impacts on your project constraints, though often the impact is negative.

Enterprise environment factors can be either internal or external.

Examples of external enterprise environmental factors are as follows:

  • Government regulations
  • Market conditions
  • External political conditions
  • Industry standards
  • Legal restrictions

A few examples of internal enterprise environmental factors include:

  • Organizational culture
  • Type of organizational structure
  • Internal political conditions
  • Available resources
  • Infrastructure

Organizational Process Assets (OPA)

organizational process assets (opa)

Before moving onto the organizational process assets, let us define assets.

An asset is defined as a useful or valuable entity or property owned by a person or company, which has value and is available to meet debts, commitment, or legacies.

Basically, assets are something that you can own, keep, and make use of at any point in time.

Examples of assets are numerous; you can have a car, which helps you move around, a house to live in, a computer to work on… the list is endless.

In the same way, organizations also have assets that help them achieve their goals. Here these assets are called organizational process assets. These OPAs are inputs of almost all processes of the PMBOK Guide. The project management team may modify these OPAs according to their requirements.

Once the project has ended, these organizational process assets can be stored in a central repository so that they can be used whenever required for any future projects.

Organizational process assets can be divided into two categories.

The first is for processes, policies and procedures for conducting work, which include the following:

  • Policies
  • Procedures
  • Standard templates
  • General guidelines

The project management team cannot update or modify these elements usually, as they have been provided by the organization. However, a project manager can provide feedback or suggestions, and higher management can make a decision to update or modify.

The second category comprises the corporate knowledge base for storing and retrieving information. For example:

These organizational process assets influence the project’s success, and they keep growing as the organization becomes larger.

Let us say that you are in the identify risks process. You decide to start identifying risks by using a checklist.

You are not going to create this checklist from scratch; you will you look at any similar past project records to find a risk checklist and customize it as per your project requirements. This will save you a lot of time.

There is a very famous saying in project management, “Why reinvent the wheel?” which means if you have something available to you, why would you try to remake it? You are free to update or modify elements from this category.

Organizational process assets are used extensively in project management. It is the responsibility of the project management team to look for any relevant documents in historical records before starting to build something from scratch.

The Difference between Organizational Process Assets and Enterprise Environmental Factors

There are many differences between organizational process assets and enterprise environmental factors.

Organizational process assets help organizations to improve their processes, help project management teams to learn, and share best practices by using a collective knowledge base.

On the other hand, enterprise environmental factors may or may not help your organization. These are the conditions in which your organization has to work and do not fall under the control of the project management team.

For example, if the government increases taxes, it will affect your profits negatively; however, if they decrease taxes, your profits will increase.

Moreover, enterprise environmental factors are not easy to change; you have to live with them. Organizational process assets can be customized according to their suitability and they make the project management team’s life much more comfortable.

It is important to note that organizational process assets always support the project team, while enterprise environmental factors can help or hinder.

Summary

Enterprise environmental factors (EEF) and organizational process assets (OPA) are the most widely referred to influences in the PMBOK Guide. EEFs provide you with a controlled environment in which your organization lives and you complete your project. OPAs help you by providing all corporate knowledge, policies, and procedures, etc.

You have to understand these influences as they are inputs of most processes and you have to manage your project within them.

How is your project influenced by enterprise environmental factors and organizational process assets? Please share your thoughts in the comments section.

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Speak Your Mind

  • Hi
    If the project manager calls for a meeting with all the stake holders and meeting went well. with the meeting concluded, what should be done with the meeting minutes?

    A.Added to the meeting minutes register.
    B.Recorded in the lesson learned register.
    C.Documented in the Organizational Process Assets.

    Please give the answer

  • Really I am loving your blog. I have just started preparing for PMP. Your blogs are really easy to understand.
    I do not know how much i can keep remember but while studding form you blog i can understand the fact.

  • Hello Fahad,
    Thank you for this explanatory article. It is really helpful for those who are studying for the exam.
    Could you please clarify on a practice question that I have encountered: Why the pre-qualified sellers list considered an EEF instead of OPA? Because from my point of view this list is a documentation that aids the PM when planning procurement.
    Thank you in advance for taking the time to clarify.

  • Hi great topic and clarity!
    I’m preparing for the exam and need clarity as to which organization the EEF apply to? Should the performing org be considering these factors for their environment to complete the project or are they factors that should be considered for the requesting org where the P, S, R will eventually be transferred to? PMBOK is clear that OPA are used by and specific to the performing org, however not clear about EEF. I recently completed a class where instructor stated they apply to the requesting org however Rita Mulcahy is stating the performing org.
    DESPERATING seaking clarity!!

    • The PMBOK has dedicated a whole chapter on it.

      Please refer chapter-2 (THE ENVIRONMENT IN WHICH PROJECTS OPERATE) for complete understanding of the topic.

  • This is a good topic and very enlightening. Environmental regulations are hurtling companies presently. About fifty years ago and even much longer than that organizations were not under heavy regulations regarding environmental concerns. In our present time period companies pay heavily for environmental infractions.

    Best regards to you sir,

  • Hi Fahad,

    There seems to be a confusion even within PMBOK with regards to “personnel administration” which has been mentioned to be an organizational process asset (4.4.1.5) as well as an enterprise environmental factor (5.1.1.3, 5.2.1.6 and 5.3.1.4 )……………I wonder which one is correct?

    To make things even worse, by contradicting the concept that “policies are OPAs”, Personnel Administration Policies are mentioned under enterprise environmental factors in 10.1.1.4, 10.2.1.4, 13.2.1.5, 13.3.1.3 & 13.4.1.4.

    It will be great if someone could shed some light on this inconsistency.

  • Hello Fahad
    I am in the middle of a long string of project management courses at BCIT and you have helped me understand Eef’s & Opa’s better. I really appreciate your knowledge and the way you teach. Thank you!

    regards
    Caroline

  • The best PMP stuff ever. You explained EEF and OPA in a way that brainless objects will understand. Thank you.

  • Hi Fahad,
    The explanations cited in above comments very comprehensibly clarify the ambiguities.
    I am presently preparing for PMP 6th edition.
    Please be requested to clarify the following:
    1. Configuration management
    2. Performance measurement plan
    3. Performance measurement baseline

    Regards
    Abhijeet

  • Thank you for this explanation! I’m brand new to project management. Even though I’m halfway through my online training for the CAPM, I still couldn’t truly understand the differences between these inputs until you explained it. Thank you!

  • This is the fourth time I’ve been using this blog to help me understand some of the PMBok definitions. Congratulations, the way you explain makes me easily understand the concepts and help me with my doubts. Thank you very much.

  • This is the best Article have ever seen,it is very precise&concise infact it really met my need God bless you. Pls! I’ll need you explanation and a person sample on business case I needed it urgently. My email is [email protected]

    • Personnel administration is not available all the time for project for his services or according to his services. Some times it may pose an issue for him, so EEF.

  • Thank you very much for this clarification!

    For organizations having a PMO, this would be the right place to manage the OPA.
    Do you share this?

  • Thanks for the helpful info! I understand the difference between OPA’s and EEFs but since they are an input to or output of most of the processes, is there a handy list of processes where OPA’s and/or EEFs are NOT an input or output? This would just make it easier in terms of trying to manage all the ITTOs and focus one the ones that are process or knowledge area specific,

    Thanks!

  • really it is the best explanation I have seen to define the EEF & OPA. but I have a little confuse regarding to the quality control system that you specified as EEF
    but I can see it as company can change the system – if their is another better practice will improve the projects- so it should be under OPA….can you please explain me why it goes under EEF and not under OPA?
    your time and help is really appreciated and thanks in advance.

    • Yes, company can change the system, Government can change the regulation, market condition can also change, and political environment can also change.

      A better regulation can come, and a favorable political environment can happen as well.

      But these change do not make them organizational process assets.

  • This is a great article that simply explains EEF and OPA and points at the differencies.

    Kudos to you for the great explanation. Thanks.

  • To make more confusion, in Rita Mulcahy 8th page128, the definition of Change Control System is “Many organizations have a change control system as part of their PMIS. This system includes …procedures and software to track control changes. It is part of an organization’s EEF”.

    Look, according to Rita, the Change Control Procedures is included in the PMIS, and PMIS is part of EEF. Hence the change control procedures must be part of EEF. But PMBOK page 147 defines that OPA includes Change Control Procedures.

    What is your comment Fahad

    • Change control procedure and change control system are different.

      Policies and procedures are part of organizational process so the change control procedure will also be a part of OPA.

  • PMBOK® Guide – Fifth Edition, page 75 says “The organizational process assets …include : standardized guidelines, work instructions, proposal evaluation criteria, change control procedures, project files from previous projects, configuration management knowledge base, etc”. PMBOK® Guide – Fifth Edition, page 75

    For me, change control procedures is nothing related to lesson learned, historical data or knowledge base. Therefore, it it better in EEF. What do you think Fahad?

  • I like your writing style. Writing in short, simple sentences that each focus on a concept makes the info easy to understand. I recommend you place this box at the top of the comments instead of the very bottom and you’ll get even more positive feedback.

    Thanks for the explanation!

  • I am beginner and learning the things from basics. Can you please guide me how can I find good examples and tutorials like you explained this topic in a pretty good manner.

    Thanks,

  • Hi,
    I have one confusion. I came across 1 question which is on kick off meeting.
    Question: if you are pm and you need clarification on business needs then who will present in kick off meeting
    Will it be pm or sponsor.
    Because i know pm always represents kick off meetings. But confusion here is if pm need clarification then who will present?
    Please if you help me with this question
    Thanks

    • What was the complete questions and options.

      If the project manager needs clarification on business need he can refer to the project charter or project statement of work which has detailed information on business need of the project.

  • Hi Fahad,

    Thanks a lot for the detailed explanation and also crystal clear clarity on some of the topics mentioned.

    1. Digressing to a different level, am confused about the term “Discretionary dependency” and why we need to eliminate discretionary dependencies during fast-tracking to control the schedule?

    Your thoughts are much appreciated.

    • Discretionary dependency are recommended dependency which some times take extra time.

      Since these are not mandatory, during fast tracking you look on these dependencies to cut the time.

  • Hi Fahad, thanks for your patience to answer all questions. Here i have a confusion and seek your help.

    While the project is still running where is all project data stored? data like PM plan, Project documents, Work performance data, Work performance reports.

    If this data is stored through PMIS (EEF) as a front end, is it stored in some knowledge base like Corporate Knowledge base (OPA) as a backend?

    Or does it data remain in EEF till the project completes and then is submitted to OPA through lessons learned?

    • If it is in soft format, it will be stored in computer servers. Otherwise as long as the project is active the project manger will keep it with him and later it can be transferred to some archiving store.

      Location is not important, important is its storage.

  • Please oblige my question. I know it has been asked before, but I’m still struggling to understand the distinctions:

    My understanding:

    EEF – Condition (internal and external) under which you have to work. You have not choice. You cannot change it, it affects everybody (Cold weather, the law, harsh governmental policies, high altitude, unfriendly co-worker/work culture, functional matrix org, projectized org, etc)

    OPA – (Internal only) Tools, techniques, information or knowledge that affect the actual “doing of the work” – they can help or guide you do your work (guidelines, procedures, historical information from past projects, lessons learned).

    My question: What does company policy fall under?
    On one hand, I cannot control company policy and must abide by it, making it an EEF
    On the other hand, I need to know the policies in order to know how to do the work, making it an OPA

    • You understanding is correct.

      Policies are OPA as they are designed by your organization to help you successfully complete the project.

  • Hi,

    I have confusion between OPA and EEF and found your website. Looking at the comments and I see your categorization of these examples below. I don’t understand the rationale even though I feel I know what you mean by the article. Can you please elaborate more or relate it to the article definition for my better understanding? Thanks lot!

    PMIS -> Enterprise Environmental Factors

    Quality Controlling Systems -> Enterprise Environmental Factors

    Environment and Legal Procedures ->Organisational Process Assets

    Organisational Policies -> Organisational Process Assets

  • Hi Fahad,

    Thanks for explaining such complex terms so simple and convincing way.
    I felt like I am in a classroom

    Can I bother you,if I have any questions or doubt ?

    Thanks again,

    Mahesh

  • Hello
    Very nice and interesting blogs. many thanks Fahad Usmani..
    Could we say that, organization structure is an EEF. ok, but the documents that describe the framework of organizaton is an OPA?

    • Likewise you can say that though the government policy is an EEF but the document describing it is OPA.

      It is about the content not the paper or storage type.

  • Thanks so much Fahad for this explanation. Very helpful and your examples really helped me clear majority of my confusions regarding OPA and EEF. However couple of them still remains, respecting all your efforts and knowledge.
    For the purpose of clarification – please bear with me.
    1. You have mentioned that “…OPA can be customized according to the suitability, and they make the project management team’s life much easier”. Policies, procedures, plans and knowledge bases are OPAs. Here I am little bit confused, my understanding of policies and procedures is that they are “assets” owned by the organization and applied across all project and operational activities, which are not individually customized for a particular project activity. For example, my current project follows the Health and Safety Policy (OPA) of our organization which cannot be customized for my project and hence a constraint, rather than a support.

    2. Organization structure – I really need some help here – how would the org. structure an EEF? Please help.

    • If you find any new best practice, procedure can be update. Likewise policy can also be changed.

      Organizational structure is environment in which you have work. For example if you working in weak matrix organization, you may have to approach the functional manager for you needs.

  • Recommendation: You need a search bar for terms that direct one to your explanations. Love the site — need more versatility to locate the words I need quickly defined.

    • I had the search bar but no body was using it there it was removed. Now, as per your suggestion, I have added it again, let us see the result.

  • I commend you for your simple interpretation of potentially convoluted words used by the PMBOK. I will be using your blog(s) to assist others to learn and understand this material.

  • Hello Fahad,

    I am thinking of giving the PMP exam. I yet to begin. could you please help me how should i proceed ?

    • Buy some good PMP exam reference books, study them, then read the PMBOK Guide. After that get your 35 contact hours training program. Practice some questions, and attempt the exam.

  • Helli Fahad

    First of all i just want to share that your articles are really very simple to unserstand…

    Can you please help me in understanding commercial databases &PMIS and why these are EEF instead of OPA

  • Why Project Management Information Systems are considered as EEF as these are more of organization specific and should be considered as OPA?

    • As per my understanding, since the PMIS is enterprize level software, and you have work within it, it is considered as an enterprize environmental factor.

  • Hi,
    I am going through the EEF and OPA concepts. Why do we categorize productivity metrics and duration of estimating databases as EEF and not OPA?

  • Thank you. You have made it very clear to understand. And you are right, sometimes the best way to understand it is going back to its original definition. Thank you again!!

  • Great work Mr. Usmani.

    PMIS -> Enterprise Environmental Factors
    Quality Controlling Systems -> Enterprise Environmental Factors (Since it is a part of the EEF)

    I understand the PMI calls PMIS and QCS Enterprise Environmental Factors but from a financial accounting definition perspective “”An asset is a resource controlled by the enterprise as a result of past events and from which future economic benefits are expected to flow to the enterprise.”
    Thus, some PMIS and QCS and Infractructure can be considered assets. For instance, customized software for Accounting/Auditing Information System.

    • I dont understand why PMIS —> EEF
      If it’s a Software, then (I think) its an Organisational Process Assets.

      Please help me to anderstand.

      Raul.

      • It is not just a software, it is a system build according to organization’s need and you have to work within the system.

  • Hello Mr Usmani

    I intend to take PMP on PMBOK 4 later this year, and stumbled upon your website, which has been extremely helpful. I wish I had known about this earlier.

    A BIG Thank you for all the material your colleagues and you have put up, and I wish you the very best.

  • Thank you Fahad- useful as always!

    Can you please explain what a project life cycle is and how it related to the 5 process groups.
    Does each project phase ave 5 process groups ?

    Thank u again

    • Hello Maha,

      You can say that product life cycle is the stages through which the product passes. Beginning from its idea, design, development, marketing and then selling to the market.

      Project life cycle is a part of the product life cycle. For example, you can say that design and development of any machine is a project. Once you develop the machine, project finishes. Now, the rest product cycle starts; i.e. marketing, selling and customer service etc.

      Every project phase has starting and finish; therefore, yes every project phase has all five process groups.

    • As per my understanding Commercial Database is a database which is usually collected and maintained by some company. This database can be given to the clients for free or with some charge so that client could analyse the current situation or the market trend without going into lengthy process of collecting all data on their own.

      • Hello Fahad,

        I have three queries.

        1. What is difference between Commercial database and Financial database ?
        2. Commercial database is OPA/EEF ?
        3. Financial database is OPA/EEF?

        It would be great if you can give examples as well.

        thanks in advance.

        • Commercial database is the data in electronic for that you have collected for your commercial activities, and financial databases containing information such as labor hours, incurred costs, budgets, and any project cost overruns.

          Database is usually a part of OPA.

  • Fahad, How do I categorize following items whether they are belong to EEF/ OPA

    1. PMIS – Project Management Information Systems e.g. Project Enterprise Solutions, Microsoft Project
    3. Quality Controlling Systems – Defect Tracking, QA tools
    4. Environment and Legal Procedures (assumed that also belong EEF)
    5. Any other organizational policies which are not directly relating to project environment.

    • Hello Janaka, as per my understanding, items can be categorized as follow:

      PMIS -> Enterprise Environmental Factors

      Quality Controlling Systems -> Enterprise Environmental Factors (Since it is a part of the EEF)

      Environment and Legal Procedures ->Organisational Process Assets

      Organisational Policies -> Organisational Process Assets

  • You simplify things very well. Wish I knew about this site earlier..

    Thank you VERY much. Keep up the good work, I am sure it’s going to help others as well.

      • Thank you for the information. I have a question. Does EEF include OPA? According to PMBOK organizational culture is one of the internal EEF. And organizational culture includes policies, process, procedures, etc. I mean Organizational culture includes Organizational process assets. Does it mean that OPA is a part of EEF?

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