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When are OPAs and EEFs an Input and when not ....

edited March 2012 in PM Certifications

I'm studying for CAPM. One thing I'm noticing - many of my errors on prep exams relate to knowing when Organisational Process Assets or Environmental Enterprise Assets are an Input to process activities. For example, why does PMBOK think there is no need for OPA's during Collect Requirements but does during Define Activities. Surely the old reliable "lessons learned" applies to both. Or why are EEFs such as "a scheduling tool" an Input to Develop Schedule and nothing comparable is needed to Determine Budget. I'd argue that there are usually good grounds for including both. Either way, for all my efforts I can't find a rhyme or reason for inclusion or exclusion and end up guessing. And before anyone says it: I don't fancy learning them off by heart.

Is there a general rule of thumb or guidance anyone can refer me to ? Sean.



  • Accepted Answer


    Excellent question.

    This is going to challenge even the experts :) There are at least 6 PMP credential holder members on this forum as of now. Let's see who gives the best answer.

    BTW, when is your exam?

  • Accepted Answer


    I quote from the PMBOK Guide, 4th edition, Chapter 3, Page 37:

    These (Organizational Process Assets and Enterprise Environmental Factors) must be taken into account for every process, even if they are not explicitly listed as inputs in the process specification. Organizational process assets provide guidelines and criteria for tailoring the organization’s processes to the specific needs of the project. Enterprise environmental factors may constrain the project management options.

    Now your argument is that why does the Guide list OPAs as input to Define Activities, but not to Collect Requirements. Well, you have just touched the tip of the iceberg. There are too many vagaries in the Guide. I have compiled a huge list of such issues for a blog post that I've been wanting to do for a long time.

    Simply put, the Guide is not perfect, and you'll only get frustration if you don't accept that fact.

    Recently I was reviewing the draft exposure of the PMBOK Guide, 5th Edition, and found that it too hasn't improved a lot. I got so frustrated and tired of reading it and sending feedback, that I simply dropped it.

    Having said all this, the exam is not going to test you on these nuances. For example, if the question asks you to identify an input of Collect Requirements among 4 options, you are unlikely to see Organizational Process Assets or Enterprise Environmental Factors as options there.

    Regarding rule of thumb, I don't have one on this topic. If others have developed some tips or tricks around this, I'll be interested to hear from them as well.

    In summary:

    1. PMBOK Guide is not perfect. Try to accept it the way it is.
    2. Don't stress too much on this issue. As long as you understand the processes and their ITTOs at a broad level, you'll be fine.

    Hope that helps.

  • Good to know there are others of a like mind out there. But I'm still a little nervous about this being no more than a nuance. So far my experience of the exam preps is that these nuances do actually occur. Perhaps this is down to the randomised nature of the questions thrown up. Either way, thanks for the prompt feedback.

  • edited March 2012 Accepted Answer


    If you are talking about quizzes that generate randomized questions, then you need not worry. In fact, many of the sample questions are simply designed to 'trick' the test takers. The real exam questions are of higher standard than almost all sample questions (free or paid). Honestly if you had asked me whether OPAs are inputs to Collect Requirements, I would not have known the answer. But if you had asked why OPAs are inputs to Define Activities, I would have come up with several good reasons.

    Take more sample questions and make sure that you are thorough with the PMBOK Guide. Every sentence in the Guide is a potential question on the exam!

    If you are a PMI member, then you have access to books24x7. It has a book called Q and A's for the PMBOK Guide, which has 200 CAPM-style questions based on the Guide. Those would be useful for your preparation.

    Good luck for your exam.

  • I had same question in mind but as said by Harwinder there is no point stressing on this issue as long as ITTO's are understood conceptually but it also invoking another question in mind that there are Project Plan updates ( 15 processes) , Project Document updates (23 processes), OPA updates (13) ...anybody has conceptual explaination how to remember which process has which updates and of What ? please mention

  • Every process is different and you cannot have a rule of thumb to remember the ITTOs. It cannot be done with PMBOK 4, and it won't happen with PMBOK 5 either.

    We need to look at each process, understand all the work involved in that process, and then logically determine which subsidiary Project Management Plans, Project Documents or OPAs, can potentially get updated as a result of that process. You don't need to come up with an exhaustive list of every possible subsidiary plan, document or process asset that may get updated, but just the main ones.

    Another way to learn is to look at a subsidiary plan, document, or process asset and ask the question "Can this item get updated as a result of process X?". If the answer is yes, then ask "Why?". Take Requirement Documentation as an example. Ask whether Requirement Documentation can get updated as part of the Create WBS process. If your answer is yes, then ask "Why?".

    About 80% of the ITTOs can be determined logically, using the above 2 techniques. That should be sufficient for the purpose of the exam. There isn't much value in chasing the remaining 20%. You can get better returns by investing that time in learning something else. The 80:20 principle holds together very well here.

    Hope that helps.

    P.S.: The concepts described above form the foundation of BrainBOK.

  • Even after reading I am still getting confused in understanding and remembering following things
    1) EEF and OPA as input to which processes?
    2) OPA updates as output
    3) Project document updates as ouput
    4) PM Plan ouput.

    It's just getting messed up in brain when all comes together.
    Can somebody put logical explanations in remembering ?

    I also made a file which has above mentioned things but still finding difficult to remember?

    Can somebody write logical explanations on every worksheet to remember it easily

  • To simplify, I think PMI can simply add EEF and OPA in all inputs OR remove them from all inputs and just mention them somewhere in bold or emphasizing that what ever process we do, we must consider these.
    But then I think the point of PMP is to let some confusion remain otherwise it will become very easy and everybody will pass the exam.

  • mention them somewhere in bold or emphasizing that what ever process we do, we must consider these

    This is already mentioned in the Guide.

  • Then it is better to remove them from all processes rather than randomly mentioning them here and there.

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