In a previous post about the proper planning of resources during a project, I got a few e-mails asking for some clarification on Organizational Process Assets (OPAs) and how they can be developed for a company. I felt it would be beneficial to review OPAs with everyone.
In my current role, I work for an organization that has compiled best practices for many of the key areas of the company. It benefits my project to have a library that I can tap into at any time. I can leverage that information to make my projects more successful by following our standard processes, policies, and methodologies while not necessarily repeating the mistakes that have been made in the past. But OPAs don't stop there.
You may be surprised to know that OPAs already exist in most companies. They may be in the form of old project documentation, lessons learned, previous project plans or even standardized templates for your project's documentation. All of these items can be brought together with your company's policies and procedures (also an OPA) and will help you better plan and prepare for all future projects.
If you think about it, most of us are already using OPAs. If your organization doesn't have a formal repository for this information you may be using your own version of it, based on your prior activities. You may be reusing old project plans that are similar to current initiatives, keeping a template for requesting capital or reusing a simple format for meeting notes.
When planning or scheduling, I rely heavily on the information I can gain from previous projects. Knowing how long common tasks took for a similar project allows me to plan more effectively while being able to justify any resource requirements. With that reasoning, it's extremely important to add to your organization's OPAs throughout a project's life cycle. If your company doesn't have a repository for OPAs already, you should consider starting one. Just gather all the information that you have been using for your projects and centralize that into a common area. Then, start working with your peers and gather their information as well. The creation of your OPAs is not an overnight process and will take some time and energy to grow and develop. But the result will be that all your company's valuable information will be available for everyone and not just sitting on a co-workers hard drive.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.