External and Internal Factors Project Planning

External and Internal Factors to Include in Project Planning

April 12, 2021 by

Resources, deliverables, costs. These are just some elements you need to include in a project plan.


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What about areas such as decision-making, internal skills, market conditions, or existing supplier contracts? Have you considered quality standards, codes of conduct, and lessons from past projects?

These areas are known as enterprise environmental factors (EEFs) and Organizational Process Assets (OPAs).

EEFs and OPAs create the working environment for your project, influencing elements such as project approval, software usage, and risk management.

Generally, EEFs are outside the control of the project team and can help or hinder your project.

OPAs are internal, specific to an organization, and are designed to support project teams.

In this article, you’ll learn more about EEFs and OPAs, including examples and how these factors impact on your project.

We’ll start with EEFs.


Enterprise Environmental Factors (EEFs)

According to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK), EEFs are internal or external conditions that can impact the project but are not within the control of the team.

As EEFs describe the circumstances in which your team will work, it’s important to investigate these factors during the planning phase.

EEFs are categorized as either internal or external to an organization.


Examples of Internal Enterprise Environmental Factors

  • Organizational culture, for example, vision, mission, and values.
  • Existing project management software.
  • Product standards.
  • Quality standards.
  • Resource availability, including physical infrastructure and the location of resources.
  • Risk tolerance.
  • Project stakeholders.
  • Organizational stakeholders.


Examples of External Enterprise Environmental Factors

  • Market conditions
  • Consumer trends
  • Industry or government regulations
  • Financial considerations, such as trade, taxation, and inflation.


EEFs determine the types of projects undertaken within an organization and your options for managing projects, for example, approaches to risk, leadership, and decision-making.

Although these factors may be outside of your control, it’s important to reflect on EEFs when planning your next project. Accommodating restrictions such as software or strict quality control processes is easier before any work starts.

A useful framework for assessing external factors is PESTEL.  The framework is based on six environmental types:

  • Political – trade, taxation, stability.
  • Economic – customer demands and trends, inflation, interest rates.
  • Social – customer demographics and expectations.
  • Technological – new services and products; advancements such as automation.
  • Environmental – corporate responsibility, environmental restrictions.
  • Legal – health and safety, employee and consumer rights, regional laws.



Organizational Process Assets (OPAs)

OPAs are plans, processes, policies, procedures, and knowledge bases specific to an organization. Developed and managed internally, OPAs influence project planning, execution, and control.

Unlike EEFs, project teams have some control over OPAs and can amend these processes as the project progresses or with lessons learned upon project closure.

OPAs help organizations to improve their processes, share best practices, and develop project management skills.

OPAs can be divided into two groups.


1. Processes, Policies, and Procedures

The Project Management Office is often responsible for creating, sharing, and updating processes, policies, and procedures.

These include:

  • Standardized templates such as project management plans, communication plans, and lessons learned.
  • HR policies
  • Procurement policies
  • Project management methods
  • Preapproved supplier and contractor lists
  • Change management processes
  • Issue Management procedures
  • Project Closure guidelines
  • Finacial control procedures
  • Risk registers.



2. Knowledge bases

The value of internal knowledge bases for successful projects should not be underestimated. In such repositories, you’ll find a trove of information about past projects, decision-making, the role of stakeholders, and so on.

These resources “will help you understand the environment you will have to master”.

Knowledge bases are typically used to store:

  • Information about software and hardware within the organization
  • Financial information such as budgets and cost overruns on past projects.
  • Files from previous projects including lessons learned, risk management activities, scope, schedule, and project closure.


It’s also good practice to check on metrics of success and reporting mechanisms on previous projects. This data indicates what is important to stakeholders and should be included in your project site or reports.


Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in March 2020 and has been updated for freshness, accuracy, and comprehensiveness.

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Grace Windsor
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