The term enterprise environmental factors refers to an input/output mechanism that is supposed to identify factors that cannot be controlled by the project team but have a significant impact on how the project has to be managed or on the outcome of the project, program or portfolio. This impact can be of positive or negative nature. The term is not very popular, but the concept is really important, given that most if not all projects are affected by the context they are managed in. As an example, if you are not allowed to use external resources and your project team lacks some skills to successfully execute the project, this is a result of an enterprise environmental factor.
Enterprise environmental factors can range and vary wildly in specific type or nature, as the PMBOK says. Despite the name, they are not restricted to factors defined by the enterprise but can also refer to factors that the enterprise has to deal with, such as industry regulations. Typical examples of enterprise environmental factors include but are not limited to
- the structure of the organization
- its culture
- Government or industry standards
- infrastructural components
- existing human resources
- commercial databases
- political climate
- communication channels
- market conditions
- any resources that may currently exist
- project management information system.
Enterprise environmental factors can be quantified in a number if different ways, but of paramount importance is the proper documentation of them. They usually are an input but, obviously, learning about them is an output of the project initiation phase. Also, human resources that are assigned to the project team can be an input and the resulting constraints of these resources have the enterprise environmental factors. Even if such a factor is not included as an input to a process group in the PMBOK, project managers and the project team should be aware of them.
This term is defined in the 3rd, the 4th and the 5th edition of the PMBOK.