Thursday, July 17, 2008

Building Organisational Process Assets (OPA)

If you look in PMBOK for "Organisational Process Assets" , you may find long write ups and references at many places. According to PMI , OPA is defined as:
Any or all process related assets, from any
or all of the organizations involved in the project that are or can be used to influence the
project’s success. These process assets include formal and informal plans, policies,
procedures, and guidelines. The process assets also include the organizations’ knowledge
bases such as lessons learned and historical information.
In this article , I will list essential things to be recorded during project execution in order to supplement/contribute to company's OPA.I will also explain the long and short term benefits of that.Please not that , I wont be mentioning about the utilisation of OPA already present with the organisation.
 1) Tender stage
Estimation & tendering are mostly market driven. Usually companies may not get sufficient time for "Bottom up" estimations (A process where the work is broken up into activities and deliverables , cost of each subset is calculated and added up to get the total cost). 'Parametric Estimation' is the widely followed technique or quick and easy estimation. Unless updated periodically from the 'Actual values' feed back from completed projects, this method may give unrealistic estimates.
The tendered project value normally will be
C = (L x R + M X U ) P
C = Tendered project value or Cost
L = Labour hours
R = Hourly rate of labour (With overheads)
M = Material cost (Procurement)
U = Procurement uplift (Contractors margin in procurement)
P = Profit factor
L depend up on labour productivity in various regions
R depend up on socio economic conditions and nationality of labour
M & U depend up on the local availability of material
All calculations used for arriving the final tender value must be filed. This will be used to compared with the actuals.
OPA to be stored : Tender calculations
2) Initiation (Post-Contract award)
 Once the contract is awarded , mark the tender documents corresponding to that job as "Contract awarded based on this"
Document all the assumptions and definitions made. This may or may not go into the OPA , but the methodology of procedure adopted for 'Initiating the project' can be stored in OPA.
OPA to be stored :Initiation methodology / sequence

This is the most critical phase of the project , where "how to go about" strategy is developed. This is where the project team sits around , debate and discuss over the project. Finiding out the best ways and sequence to execute the project resulting in a project plan, finiding out and listing 'what to do and what not to' in the project resulting a scope plan, budget , Quality plan, risk managemnt plan, HSE plan.. etc
Summary of the planning process 'as executed' shall be recorded once the phase is finished. Major documents developed can be stored as 'Template' for future projects , if they turned out to be successful.
OPA to be stored :Planning methodology & documents developed (as template)

This is the phase where the project team meet with the 'reality'. The tool for success is the project plan and the basis of that is previous good practices. As the project progress, the team may find better way of doing things and becomes aware of the things which they left out during the planning phase. This will inturn result in revisions of project plan.
All the practical things the project team phased, which are noteworthy , can be stored in OPA.
OPA to be stored : Revise the planning methodology & documents based on the latest input from execution phase.

5) Monitoring & Control
Main tools used for monitoring and control are Project plan & progress tracker. Other suggested tools are productivity tracker & cost tracker, which are some way or other related to the first two.
The flaws in the project plan and progress tracker, if any , will come out during this phase. Based on this , the project team revise the plan & update / upgrade the tracker. The final project plan & tracker application can be stored as templates for future projects.
OPA to be stored :Final project plan & progress tracker application - as templates
This is the postmortem phase. the most important stage regarding development of Organisational process assests. In this stage , the team is equiped with all the 'actual' figures.
This powers them to make a comparison between 'Planned and Actual'
This will result in some decisions and guidelines regarding how similar projects are to be executed in future.
The actual man hours spent on each activity , durations , sequence of activities , potential risks ..etc ave very useful for future estimation / tendering ,planning & execution.
I would say , the estimation team will be very happy to receive such 'actual' figures, since it can refine their 'Parametric modeling' process.
What ever data the team has recorded with labels/ titles such as "OPA" and "Lessons Learned" will be reviewed at this stage and a final set of documents and templates is developed which will be forwarded to the PMO (Project Management Office - the central control room for all the projects & programmes )
The PMO will convert this data into policies , procedures and methodologies , which will revise or supplement the existing OPA.
To conclude, OPA development is essential to any project centric organisation's growth. Any data which is suspected to have potential to improve the way projects are executed by the organisation , shall be recorded during the project life cycle. Closing  process for any project is a must and it is where all these 'Best practices' , 'Recommended practices' and 'Lessons learned' are reviewed and released. This will ensure that the experience learned by the organisation will not vanish when people leave the organisation !
(Put your views, queries and comments under the 'comments' section)


  1. Good view .
    I think the PMBOK changed the Knowledge sharing to a new concept OPA .
    Good to have this view .


  2. nice to read .. getting lot of knowledge to handle projects from your cute blog....

  3. Thanks Naveen !
    Keep visiting ..
    More practical secrets in the draft.
    Request for topics will be considered.



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