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
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?