Organizational Process Assets for The PMP Exam

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Video Transcript

Hello and welcome back to the Project Management Prepcast where we teach you how to make use of our training assets to build up to the PMP exam. I'm your instructor, Cornelius Fichtner. The topic of Organizational Process Assets is the focus of this lesson. An asset is something of value. In this context, an organization's process assets are like project management treasure. It is valuable knowledge information and tools which the organization accumulates over time. In this lesson, we describe the aspects of the assets which the project manager has at his or her disposal. We see how organizational process assets can be used throughout the project management process groups and are used in all 10 project management knowledge areas. We look at examples of processes and procedures. We discuss the information flow and examples of corporate knowledge bases. And we learn how organizational process assets are not static. Instead, project teams update them as needed. You can see in this and many future lessons how beneficial and invaluable organizational process assets are to us project managers.

When you work on a project, you are typically not starting from a green field. Your organization has a wealth of experience and knowledge which are embodied in organizational process assets. Formerly the PMBOK Guide describes these organizational process assets or OPAs as plans, processes, policies, procedures, and knowledge bases that are specific to and used by the performing organization. This definition basically spells out the two categories into which organizational process assets can be grouped, namely, the processes and procedures as well as the corporate knowledge bases.

Organizational Process Assets are used by you and me throughout our projects. Typically, they serve as inputs to the processes of a project. For example, estimates from past projects, they can help with cost or time estimates for our current project. As you go through the project, the project team may then update and add to the organizational process assets. For example, at the end of our project, the cost and schedule information can be added to the organizational pool of data on project estimates.

To explain this with an example, let's take a look at the flow of the organizational process assets through the knowledge area of project communications management. The PMBOK Guide describes three processes in this knowledge area. Under the Planning Process group, Plan Communications Management is based on stakeholders' information needs and requirements as well as available organizational assets. Under the Executing Process group, Management Communications involves directing, managing, performing, and accomplishing project communications. And under the Monitoring and Controlling Process group, the Control Communications process occurs throughout the project life cycle to ensure the information needs of these stakeholders are met. For all three of these processes, you use different organizational process assets as inputs, including lessons learned, historical information, policies and procedures, security requirements, templates, to name just a few. All of these are coming in to each of these three processes. Then, as part of the Control Communications process, we may need to update our Organizational Process Assets. For example, you may make improvements or augmentations to reporting format. So add to lessons learned or other project communications management related documents.

Let's take a look at these organizational process assets and their relationships to the project communications management processes in a different way. This figure here is the overview 10-1 of the Project Communications Management knowledge area with our three processes. And observe how in Plan Communications, in Manage Communications, and Control Communications, the Organizational Process Assets are listed as inputs. And then in Control Communications, the Organizational Process Assets or rather the updates to those Organizational Process Assets are created and shown as an output. Feel free to take a look for yourself how the OPAs are used in the various knowledge areas. And you'll see that there is at least one Organizational Process Asset involved in all 10 knowledge areas.

Now, let's take a look at how the Organizational Process Assets can be used for different project management process groups. Let's take a look at a set of tasks in the day of the life of a project manager in the early stages of a project. You know a certain amount of work occurs early on in project initiating and planning. Organizational Process Assets help us project managers to hit the ground running by giving us a starting point to launch the project. We'll have to look up project management policies, we have to add new requirements on standard quality checklists and we have to review contract template with our legal department. Now, check out the highlighted words here. These are all organizational process assets that you use in initiating and planning the project. Policies, checklist and templates are all examples of an organizational process asset.

Now, let's take a look at a possible to-do list for when you are executing, monitoring, and controlling the project. And as we're looking at this, see if you can find the role that the organizational process asset play in the list. Here's the list. First, call Ted about the change request form. Then, review the risk statement template with Sue. Perform project financial review with the accounting team, and pick up the dry cleaning on the way home from lunch. Well, did you catch all of the organizational process assets? We don't have to really highlight them all. Basically, there's an organizational process asset involved in about everything except of course, the project manager's dry cleaning but it's a bit of a stretch. But you might say that even in this last one here, pick up dry cleaning on the way home from lunch, there could be an organizational process asset indirectly involved. You, as the project manager, you have to be familiar with the organizational policies’ allowable expenditures to know whether or not you can actually charge back some or all of your dry cleaning, some or all of your lunch, to the project.

At the end of the project, during the close out process, organizational process assets are gathered and captured. Here are some examples of using these OPAs for closing out a project. First of all, gather lessons learned from the team. You may be required to capture these in a particular format and to add them to a lessons learned repository. Capture customer and stakeholder evaluations. The sales team or other projects may want to collect customer feedback for future reference. Human resources may also need this as part of the project managers and project teams’ annual performance review. Review any outstanding charges with accounting. You must follow proper financial controls and guidelines. You want to ensure the proper financial close out of your project. And check guidelines for team celebration. There may be limitations on how much you can spend or who can participate in a project close out party. Please notice that the first two activities listed here. You're primarily updating the organizational process assets for the benefit of other projects or other areas of the organization, while the two final activities are more about conforming to policies and procedures set out by your organization.

Organizational process assets come in a wide variety. For processes and procedures, your organization may have both formal and informal assets for organizational processes, policies which you should adhere to on the project. Change control procedures which determine how changes should be handled on your project. Issues and defect management procedures for quality as an example. Financial control procedures for procurement or expenditures or standard time reporting rules, methods and closing procedures for closing out a project phase or the overall project itself. Are you familiar with these processes and procedures in your own organization?

The format of information may differ for different types of corporate knowledge bases. Your organization may have databases used to collect lessons learned information as well as the use of other knowledge management and documentary, repository and management tools and just general information systems. These may also include documentation or files in paper format that project teams are recorded to store, to adhere, to legal or regulatory requirements that can store and access information relevant to a project. In this information-based society, with all the corporate knowledge bases at our disposal, at times, being a project manager can be more like an archeologist. Usually, the first step is to search and dig through troves of information stored in corporate knowledge bases to understand what was done in the past, that what you have to do now on your project. When you find the information and retrieve the information you need, it can be like a eureka moment for you. And then, you can then apply this information to your own project. During the end of your project, as part of one of the project management processes, you may then go back and update and store the information in the appropriate corporate knowledge bases for future use so that a future project manager can then start at the beginning again.

Let's now look at different examples of corporate knowledge bases beginning with the Configuration Management knowledge base. The Configuration Management knowledge base quite simply is a collection of all organizational standards, policies, and project documents including all the previous versions. There could be historical information. This is a very broad category. An example of this would be a product or resource pricing history that is relevant to the industry where your organization operates. And of course, project files. For example, when you are writing your own project management plan, you may want to refer to the ones created for similar past projects.

The next knowledge base type are lessons learned where project teams can document what they have learned or things they can improve on if they were to do the project again. Or the issues and defect management database for directing and managing work. It is useful to see informational past issues and defects and their corresponding resolutions and action item results. It's also useful to refer to the process measurement databases to see measurements of products and processes. For example, for an online marketing project, relevant performance measurements may consist of a number of hits on a website or a number of cross sells from other websites.

In terms of corporate knowledge bases, we typically include financial databases in our review before we start up a project. It stores information, costs, and budgets of previous projects. There could be cost templates. And the PMBOK guide defines a template as a partially complete document in a pre-defined format that provides a defined structure for collecting, organizing and presenting information and data. You use cost templates to capture costs in the format that is defined by your organization. And of course, if we have cost templates, there should also be reporting templates, which aids in reporting of various information like the project performance and status, and of course, your expense reports.

Before we bring this lesson to a close, let me say this: Take care of your assets. Organizational Process Assets are like your organization's project management treasure trove. They are there for you to guard, protect, use and continue to develop and grow.

Let's review. In this lesson, you have learned that you don't launch a project from a completely blank state. You have Organizational Process Assets which you can utilize at different points on the project. The Organizational Process Assets manifest in two forms, namely, as processes and procedures and in the form of corporate knowledge bases. Use your organizational process assets to understand policies, guidelines, and requirements, in other words, what you are obligated to do on your project. Also use them to understand the history, that is to say, what was done and how it was done in the past. Use the organizational process assets to inform you and provide you with tools on your current projects. And remember to update organizational process assets for other projects in the future.

As an exam tip, let me leave you with three thoughts on Organizational Process Assets. It's important for you to understand the distinction between the two categories of organizational process assets. Basically, what is considered to be under processes and procedures versus what is part of your corporate knowledge base. Understand the use of organizational process assets within the different project management processes. And know when they are to be used as input and when they are updated as outputs for each process. Details of how organizational process assets are used for different project management processes will be described in the lessons that are still to come.   

And this concludes our look into the Organizational Process Assets and marks the end of this lesson. So Justine and I say goodbye. Well, to be precise, Justine says “Goodnight John boy.” And well, yes, I say, until next time.

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