Stage gates, when used properly, are the core framework for project/programme delivery. This has many advantages (including standardised delivery approach, top-down visibility of progress, enforced QA checkpoints, and improved portfolio management). However, it involves significant change of behaviour and should be approached as a significant business change exercise. There are eight approaches to implementing Stage and Gateways that helps to highlight key activities and the benefits.
Stories from a Chartered Project Professional Team
The Stage Gate approach to project and programme governance has been around for over 60 years and has become embedded in some organisations but less so in others. At its heart, it’s a governance approach for external inspection of an activity that answers 3 key questions: 1) has the right activity been carried out; 2) does the plan for the future look sound; and 3) is this activity still aligned with the organisation’s needs.
It’s easy get distracted by a long list of requirements at each stage gate but the stage gate process can be distilled down to 4 critical success factors: 1) Effective external inspection; 2) Check that sufficient work has been completed to end the stage; 3) A good plan for the future and; 4) Alignment with the organisation’s goals.
Impact assessments have become a part of business life in the modern world and are a key feature of governance and oversight for projects and programmes. In this blog, we outline how Impact Assessments can be used to improve engagement in both project delivery and governance design.
A theme of some of my blogs has been the focus on outcomes and why this focus is critical to deliver what an organisation actually wants. Too often the overall desired business outcome is agreed, but it then morphs into a different project outcome focused instead on delivering outputs.
So few projects, in both the private sector and public sector, actually get terminated because once they start they keep going. This is the ‘Mastermind’ Approach to Project Management – I’ve started so I’ll finish! If you have formal check points or stage gates it means you can make an objective assessment of whether you should still invest in this initiative. Terminating a project is a good thing if it, either won’t be delivered, or the business case is no longer valid. In these situations, of course, terminating projects as soon as possible means saving money or not throwing good money after bad. This means scarce resources, i.e. money can be directed to other projects or initiatives that produce a better return, e.g. improved services.
A recent client of ours who had been using PM3, our PPM tool, complained that some project managers did not want to use a PPM tool as they did not see what benefit they got from using such a tool. Virtually every PPM vendor, at some stage, gets this response. In this blog, I would like to explain why this comment is often made and how you can ensure that your investment in a PPM tool is not wasted.