5th Edition PMBOK® Guide—Chapter 2: Organizational Process Assets

In the last post, I introduced the two “ubiquitous” inputs to processes, in the sense that they are used as inputs to many, many processes:  1) Organizational Process Assets, the processes, policies, and corporate body of knowledge of an organization, and 2) the Environmental Enterprise Factors, the internal company culture and the societal environment in which the organization does business.

This post will focus in detail on the first category of Organizational Process Assets or OPAs. One of the problems about it being such a large category that includes a number of different things is that when an input says “Organizational Process Assets”,  just knowing that category isn’t enough. You have to know which specific OPAs are being referred to as inputs for that particular process. The thing is, though, once you know what OPAs are being referred to, and you know what the tools and techniques are that the process uses, the reason WHY they are inputs to that process can become more intuitively clear. And THAT is the key to memorizing inputs, not memorizing by rote but memorizing by knowing the tools and techniques first, and then figuring out for those tools and techniques, what particular items you would need to carry them out.

It’s kind of like trying to recall a recipe.  First you take the finished dish, let’s say, lasagna, and if you’ve made it before, you can work back mentally and figure out what would ingredients you would need to make it, enough to make a shopping list for example.   Well, enough advice on memorization: let’s go to the OPA lists.

1. Organizational Process Assets—Processes and Procedures

There are two broad categories of OPAs: processes and procedures, and corporate knowledge base. The PMBOK® Guide helpfully breaks the OPAs down into which process group they are being used for: initiating, planning, executing, monitoring & controlling, and closing.

Process Groups

OPA Processes and Procedures description
Initiating, Planning 1. Project guidelines (tailoring standard processes and procedures to specific projects)
2. Organizational standards: general policies (HR, PM, safety, ethics), project and/or product life cycles, quality policies and procedures
3. Templates (risk register, WBS, contracts, project schedule network diagram)
Executing, Monitoring & Controlling 4. Change control procedures (steps by which project is modified, how changes are approved and validated)
5. Financial control procedures (time reporting, expenditure and disbursement reviews, accounting codes, standard contract provisions)
6. Issue and defect management procedures
7. Communication requirements (available technology, authorized communication media, record retention policies document security requirements))
8. Work authorization procedures (prioritizing, approving, issuing)
9. Risk control procedures (risk statement templates, probability and impact definitions and matrix
10. Standardized guidelines (work instructions, proposal evaluation criteria, performance measurement criteria)
Closing 11. Project closure guidelines (lessons learned, final project audits, project evaluations, product validations and acceptance criteria)

It is easy to be overwhelmed with just a large list, so rather than memorize it, go through it, and see which of these categories of OPAs you recognize and which your organization uses. Then look at the items your organization does not utilize at the present time; can you at least see why it was put in a particular category?

The second overall category of OPAs are the corporate knowledge base. Here are the kinds of OPAs that comprise this category. These are not divided into any specific process group but there are some obvious parallels with the processes and procedures.

OPA Corporate Knowledge Base Description


1. Configuration management knowledge bases (versions and baselines of all standards, policies, procedures, and project documents) #4
2. Financial databases (project labor hours, incurred costs, budgets, cost overruns) #5
3. Historical information and lessons learned knowledge bases (project records and documents, project closure information, previous project selection decisions, previous project performance information, information from risk management activities) #11
4. Issue and defect management databases (issue and defect status, control information, issue and defect resolution, action item results) #6
5. Process measurement databases (measurement data on processes and projects) #10
6. Project files from previous projects (baselines, calendars, project schedule network diagrams, risk registers, planned response actions, and defined risk impact) #3, #9

In the right-hand column, I have listed any of the OPA categories of policies and procedures which seem particularly closely linked to any particular corporate knowledge base. For example, the issue and defect management database is where a lot of the documents end up that are generated by processes and procedures (P&P) category #6 above, namely, issue and defect management procedures. Similarly, the financial databases contain information that is generated by processes and procedures (P&P) category #5, namely, financial control procedures. By seeing the way that the processes and procedures and the knowledge bases are linked, you can understand a little bit better the way that OPAs are utilized as inputs to various processes.

The next post will discuss Enterprise Environmental Factors, the other ubiquitous category of inputs to processes according to the PMBOK® Guide.


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