When I read project management articles, one term that generates a lot of questions is Enterprise Environmental Factors (EEFs). EEFs are corporate, environmental, and governmental variables that can determine how you manage certain aspects of a project. EEFs are often used as an input to many of the processes that occur during the course of a typical IT project.
Examples of EEFs
While there are many more EEFs than I list below, these examples will give you an idea of the types of areas that can impact your project. I also provide questions that you need to ask at the start of each project.
Each company's culture differs from the next, and you need to ensure you are taking this into account when organizing a project. Questions to consider about organizational culture include:
- Is your company very strict about enforcing policy and procedures?
- Is your company more focused on results than on formalizing the process that achieves the results?
- Do you have to file weekly reports and have structured status meeting to provide timely updates?
It's important to understand the types of tools your organization is using so your team can leverage the assets that are already in place (assuming that change isn't the project's purpose). Questions to consider about tools include:
- What project management tools are available to you and your team?
- Are there any specific tools you should use to track time and resources?
- Do your business partners use a specific tool to perform their job?
Here's an example: A colleague worked for a company that wouldn't allow a consultant to work for the same department for more than nine months. The rationale behind it was that, if you need a person for longer than that time, you should fill the position with a full-time resource. This impacted the project's timeline because the project manager factored in that there would be some transition time between resources near the end of the eighth month into the project. So, be sure to ask yourself these personnel-related questions:
- Does HR have restrictions that could limit your hiring process and/or the training of team members?
- Does your project team have the skill sets to perform the necessary functions?
This is the EEF that I hear about all the time. Project managers sometimes skip the step of ensuring that the organization's infrastructure can support a new project's requirements. The resulting fallout usually ends up with teams scrambling to patch something together in a last-minute effort to hit a deadline with a suboptimal solution. Questions to consider about infrastructure include:
- Are there restrictions to your infrastructure?
- Are you running out of space on your severs? If so, how long does it take to get new hardware?
- Will the network be able to handle the extra volume you're going to add to it?
You should check with the proper groups in your company to see if anything you plan to do could be an issue, or if a law or restriction has changed that could be problematic if you don't follow it. Questions to consider about marketplace conditions include:
- Are there any legal implications on the project?
- Are there governmental rules or regulatory restrictions that could impact the project?
EEFs help ensure project consistency
Some project managers view EEFs as limitations to a project because these factors can restrict your ability to do certain tasks or add scope to a plan. I find that there is usually a strong rationale behind an EEF's purpose, and so I've come to regard EEFs as guidelines that can help ensure consistency across an organization.
If you are unsure as to whether EEFs have an impact on your project, spend some time with other leaders in your organization to try to clarify an EEF's purpose. This will help you make a more informed decision as to the EEF's impact on your next project, which will ultimately put you in a better position to be make the project successful.
Bill Stronge is a PMP certified Project Manager with a Global CPG organization currently focusing on eBusiness projects. During his 14+ years, he has worked on enterprise-wide applications in both a developer and architect role, as well as a project manager leading teams of various sizes. He can be reached for questions at email@example.com.
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