Where is your project Gateway review?

I have worked in many companies where they employ a Gateway review process. I have given the word a capital ‘G’ as I believe it warrants it though my wife; the Grammarian in the family would really quibble!

I believe the Gateway process has a significant and strategic place in project and programme management so let’s look at what a Gateway is and should happen.

What is a Gateway?

It is a gate! It’s a point along the route of your project where you formally move from one stage to the next from say initiation to project planning. But, before you move into project planning there needs to be a check that the project is still current, it fits with the organisations objectives and priorities. Decisions are made and it acts as part of the overall project governance process.

What should happen at the Gateway?

Each company is different however here are some common themes:

  • reports are produced. There could be a combination of reports however whatever is produced (and they should be brief) is used as a key information tool for the project sponsor or project board to enable them to make decisions on the project
  • it should be clear ‘you are on track’ or where you are – time, budget and quality
  • some companies use it to release (or not) funds allocated for the next phase/stage
  • resource allocation (including funding) is discussed ensuring the project has the correct resources
  • stakeholders are engaged and ‘on board’ with the project

Does your gateway process REALLY work?

As mentioned, these are some common themes and in your comany elemets may be added or taken away.

But where is the project Gateway review?

There is however one theme that is I have seen and one which needs to be addressed; no gateway processes. Even though the gateway process is built into the overall internal project management approach we find it does not happen.   There is no talk of it, no preparation for it by the project manager and the project sponsor nor project board expect to hold one.

Not having a gateway process is really a lost opportunity:

  • for the project – to be clear where the project is at the moment the gateway review is held and where it is going
  • for the project manager – providing a clear steer for the project manager – company issues they may not be aware of
  • for the company – “this is a key business project so let’s look at the resourcing side so we can ensure it is delivered to budget”

So, my question is this; people tell me and I have seen gateway processes in comanies however they do not work. What is needed to make this key process more effective?

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2 Responses to Where is your project Gateway review?

  1. Ron,

    In order to go through the gate – any gate – you first must know how the gate works. Where the latch is, which way it opens, how wide it is, what’s on the other side. In order words, you have to know the “preconditions” for going through the gate.

    In the project context, this means defining ahead of time, what are the Significant Accomplishments are needed to go through the gate. Better yet, hat Significant Accomplishments are needed to be “ready” through the gate.

    For each of these accomplishments, what are the measurement criteria of the work efforts that produced the accomplishment? These are sometimes called “exit critria.” But in the gate paradigm, you also need “entry” criteria.

    The question is “what do we need to know to be ready for the next gate.” The classic Stage Gate process doesn’t address this. The Integrated Master Plan and Integrated Master Schedule paradigm does. http://1.usa.gov/qjGMCN is an introduction to this concept.

    Here’s a larger framework for this approach http://bit.ly/MiG4zf. In order to have an Integrated Master Plan (showing the increasing maturity of the products or services – the gates) you need to know what capabilities are needed by the user, and the programmatic architecture that will produce them – the IMP.

    Here’s a picture of an actual Integrated Master Plan http://bit.ly/mtxcru and the topology of the IMP in the context of the Integrated Master Schedule. The relationships between the work and the measures of increasing maturity are defined in http://bit.ly/MiGMMS.

    What is subtle is the define up front what the entry and exist criteria are for each stage gate. These are usually referred to as Technical Performance Measures, but there are other measures. Here’s some background http://slidesha.re/tjKkU8

    When you combine the Capabilities Based Planning, with the measures of effectiveness and performance, and describe them with Technical Performance Measures and their KPPs, you have the raw materials to answer the question – “what do we have to know to start going through this gate?”

    • Ron Rosenhead says:

      Thanks Glen for this and the time taken to put it together.

      There is one main issue which I would add is (and it links well with your comments) is do they recognise what a gate is? The jargon could get in the way however it is a simple concept to understand.

      Lots of links Glen which will keep me and lots of others busy. Thanks

      In the UK there are formal Gateway Review processes which still go on despite the government dept. (OGC) being absorbed into the Cabinet Office. OGC had some great documents on their web site and they are now archived in some deep cellar – no longer available. Shame as the quality of the documents was pretty high.

      For me, all companies need a gateway process so let me get on and read your links Glen, thanks

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