6th Edition PMBOK® Guide–Enterprise Environmental Factors

I am starting a project of going through the 6th Edition of the PMBOK® Guide and blogging about its contents.    The 6th Edition was released on September 22nd by the Project Management Institute, and the second chapter is a general introduction to the framework in which project management exists, starting with section 2.1 Project Influences.

Looking back on the first chapter, it contained the foundational elements of project management, showing in many cases the internal structure of a project.   The second chapter concentrates more on the exterior of a project, to the environments in which projects operate.  These environments can influence a project either favorably or negatively, and that is why a project manager needs to be aware of them.

Figure 2.1 on page 37 show the two categories of project influencers:

  • Enterprise environmental factors–these are conditions which are not under control of the project team, that influence, constrain, or direct the project.  They can be either internal to the organization (such as organization culture) or external to the organization (such as legal restrictions).
  • Organizational process assets–these are the business practices or knowledge bases  specific to an organization which can influence the management of the project.  Examples include processes, policies and procedures.

This post will go into more detail into enterprise environmental factors.

There are certain categories of events or people that can influence a project.   Events that can influence a project are called risks, and there is a whole knowledge area devoted to identifying them, classifying them, and preparing risk responses to them.    People that can influence a project are called stakeholders, and there is a whole knowledge area devoted to identifying them, creating a strategy for engaging them and then carrying it out.

Enterprise environmental factors are more nebulous than either risks or people; they are conditions which can influence a project.   As such, they are out of control of the project team in a way that risks and shareholders are not, because they can at least be influenced.    It is important for project managers to be aware of the environmental enterprise factors or EEFs that may affect their project.   On a practical note for those studying for the PMP® exam, EEFs are what I call a “generic” input into project management processes, meaning that they are inputs to a great number of those processes.   Why?  Because that process will be influenced or shaped by one or more of those EEFs.

Okay, now what are some of the EEFs?   They are outside of the control of the project team, but they may be either internal to the organization or external to it.

Here are some of the internal EEFs.

  • Organizational culture–the values, code of ethics, and leadership style of management
  • Information technology software–this includes scheduling tools such as Microsoft Project or Primavera.
  • Infrastructure–information technology hardware and telecommunications channels.

There are additional ones listed on page 38 of the Guide, but this gives you an idea of what kind of EEFs are internal to an organization.   NOTE:   Please remember that the software you use on a project is considered an environmental factor or EEF and NOT an organizational process asset or OPA.   This is a mistake that many make on the exam.

What are some of the external EEFs?

  • Social and cultural influences–the culture of a country you are doing business with will influence how you interact with the team members, stakeholders, or customers from that country (see Erin Meyer’s book The Culture Map for a rich resource that goes into this topic in depth)
  • Legal restrictions–national, state and/or local laws and regulations
  • Physical environment–weather and working conditions

There are other examples on p. 39, but you can see from the above list that some EEFs such as legal restrictions will  more directly affect specific projects that deal with the products or services that are covered by those laws and regulations.   Others such as the physical environment will more generally affect the project, not to mention the operations of a particular organization.

The other category of project influences are organizational process assets or OPAs.   They are the processes, policies, and procedures of an organization, as well as their knowledge bases.   They will be the subject of the next post.


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