5th Edition PMBOK® Guide—Chapter 2: Enterprise Environmental Factors


In my post two days ago, I introduced the two “ubiquitous” inputs to processes, in the sense that they are used as inputs to many, many processes: Organizational Process Assets, the processes, policies, and corporate body of knowledge of an organization, and the Environmental Enterprise Factors, the internal company culture and the societal environment in which the organization does business. Yesterday I talked about Organizational Process Assets or OPAs; today I will talk about Environmental Enterprise Factors or EEFs.

Enterprise Environmental Factors differ from OPAs mainly in the fact that they are conditions not under the control of the project team. OPAs are either processes or procedures, or a corporate knowledge base, which a project team has a limited amount of control over as part of the organization. EEFs can have a positive or negative influence on the outcome of a project, just like stakeholders can.

The PMBOK® Guide gives a laundry list of 13 different EEFs. Let’s see if I can introduce a conceptual scheme that may help sort some of these out in your mind.

There are two dimensions of EEFs: one is whether they are internal or external to the organization. An example of an internal EEF would be the organizational culture; an example of an external EEF would be government or industry standards.

Another dimension is whether they are tangible or intangible. A physical system or en electronic one is considered tangible in this definition; a system of values or ethics is one is that considered intangible in this definition. An example of a tangible EEF would be the organization’s communication channels; an example of an intangible EEF would be the stakeholder risk tolerances.

Let’s put these two dimensions together in the following way: let the internal vs. external dimension be the vertical dimension, and the tangible vs. intangible be the horizontal dimension. Then the intersection of these makes a quadrant, with the following four possibilities among the two dimensions:

Given this conceptual scheme, let me now put the 13 EEFs listed in chapter 2 of the PMBOK® Guide in their proper place.

If you do a count of the above, you find out that I have listed 14. This is because I listed one EEF, stakeholder risk tolerances, twice. I did this because stakeholders can be either internal OR external to an organization, and so they needed therefore to be in two categories. Now you could argue on philosophical grounds about the placement of various EEFs, but the point is to notice what each group of EEFs have in common. Notice that human resources as an EEF refers to the people themselves, as opposed to Human Resources as a department, with its own rules and guidelines; that would be covered under Personnel Administration.

An important point to understand about EEFs is that even if an EEF is listed as being internal to the organization according to the scheme above, it is still not under the control of the project team because it is external to the project, like what human resources are available for any particular project.    Those must negotiated for by the project manager.

Giving this chart a quick review will help you understand a) WHY a particular factor is an EEF, and b) the type of EEF it is under the conceptual scheme above which will help you understand HOW it affects the project. The internal factors will affect a project in a more easily understandable way than the external factors (like the political climate), but those external factors still need to be taken under consideration. The tangible factors will also affect a project in a more easily understandable way (like the communication channels available to a project), but the intangible factors (risk tolerances) likewise still need to be taken under consideration.

The next two days I will be blogging about other topics, but starting next Monday, January 28th, I will continue the series of blog posts on chapter 2 of the PMBOK® Guide with an eye towards finishing the chapter by the end of January. Then the fun of learning all the 47 project management processes begins in Chapter 3!

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