Organizational Process Assets

21 January, 2014

Having devoted our last article to Enterprise Environment Factors, it would be remiss of us not to say something about Organizational Process Assets. These appear even more frequently than the Enterprise Environmental Factors in the project management processes – 38 times as process inputs and 14 times as outputs. According to the Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK® Guide), Organizational Process Assets are “the plans, processes, policies, procedures, and knowledge bases specific to and used by the performing organization”.

Anyone who has joined a new company as a project manager will understand that these Organizational Process Assets need to be sought out as soon as possible. Despite your shiny PMP® certificate in project management and your years of previous experience, it is strongly advised that you respect what has been done before in your new company and adopt the tools and techniques that your peer project managers are using. Of infinitely more use will be the knowledge base that the company has built up over the years. The planned and actual schedules from previous projects, the lessons learned documentation and the various logs and registers from earlier projects will help you understand the environment you will have to master. They will give you valuable insights into who are the good people, who are the difficult stakeholders and what risks should be considered in this new environment.

Existing policies and procedures will influence the entire project life cycle. You will likely find templates for the major documents. You might also encounter strange names for familiar artefacts – for instance, the Project Charter is sometimes called a Project Proposal. So the Organizational Process Assets often have to be filtered through your PMP® knowledge to find out what they are actually for. Any guidelines you find will also be welcome, particularly those detailing how to tailor procedures to suit different projects. Remember from your PMP® training that every project has some unique aspect, so you will most likely need to adapt things.

We mentioned regulation when we discussed Enterprise Environmental Factors, but the internal policies and rules are found in the Organizational Process Assets. Expect to find Human Resource policies, such as Health and Safety, but also look out for policies relating to other aspects of the project – such as procurement, quality and budgeting. It will be good to see change control procedures in place, as well as a good risk management culture. Finally of course, a sound project closure process will provide the knowledge base that forms the other aspect of Organizational Process Assets.

Historical information from past projects is really useful. From this, we can determine labour rates, attitudes towards risk (what happened when something went wrong?) and how decisions tend to be made. Remember the four ways a group decision can be made from your PMP® days – unanimity, majority, plurality or dictatorship? Any measurements that are recorded are really useful too – they help the project manager understand what senior management is concerned about. Dashboard charts and status reports provide insights into what knowledge areas are hot buttons for your new bosses.

While Organizational Process Assets benefit the new project manager on the block, what about the poor PMP® student who has to know that there are a total of 52 Organizational Process Assets inputs and outputs across the project management processes? Well, just think about it for a bit: when are you likely to need these? Planning is an obvious point when you need templates and procedures as well as a bit of historical insight. Every single planning process of the “Plan <knowledge area> Management” type, including “Develop Project Management Plan” itself has Organizational Process Assets as input.

Also notice that they do not have Organizational Process Assets Updates as outputs! On the surface, this seems strange as it looks like our plans do not contribute to the corporate knowledge base. But look at the two closing processes – they both have Organizational Process Assets Updates as outputs – this is where our plans get archived. Similarly, all the “Control <knowledge area>” processes have Organizational Process Assets Updates as an output, reflecting changes in baselines. These updates also appear in the Executing process group, specifically in Perform Quality Assurance and the “Manage” processes.

As we said in the previous article, it makes more sense for the PMP® student to understand what Organizational Process Assets are and what they are used for than in memorizing lists from the PMBoK® and learning inputs and outputs off by rote. Just ask yourself: does this process use established policies and procedures or draw from historical data? If it does, then Organizational Process Assets should appear on the input list. Similarly, does the process update baselines or policies? If it does, then Organizational Process Assets Updates can be expected as an output.

If you would like to learn more about Organizational Process Assets and other project management concepts, please visit our training page. We run our project management courses in Dublin, Cork, Limerick and Galway so there should be a course convenient to you. To get more details, please contact us directly.

By Velopi Seamus Collins
 

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