6th Edition PMBOK® Guide–Operational Process Assets

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 operational process assets.  Operational process assets are the plans, processes, policies. procedures, and knowledge bases specific to an organization.

In an earlier post on the concept of tailoring, the idea was discussed where the PMBOK® Guide was likened to a hardware store that has tools and materials to serve all types of customers, from the casual DIY homeowner to a corporation that builds skyscrapers.    The tools the customer needs will vary based on the type of project that is needed to be done.

In a similar way, the PMBOK® Guide contains all of the project management tools you could possibly use on a project, but the organization must then choose from that giant toolbox those tools that are useful to that organization.   It is that collection of processes, in addition to business policies and procedures, that make up one category of Operational Process Assets or OPAs.   The other category of OPAs would be organizational knowledge bases, especially those pertaining to previous projects done by the organization.    Although the first category are not updated as part of the project work, the knowledge bases are updated as a result of the compiling of lessons learned during the project.

This is why operational process assets are often generic inputs to many processes, whereas operational process assets updates are often outputs of those very processes.

Examples of OPAs in either category of a) processes, policies, and procedures and b) organizational knowledge bases are contained on pages 40 and 41 of the Guide.

The next post starts a review of the next section 2.4 on Organizational Systems.


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