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Project Gates

 

Disciplines > Change ManagementThe 4D Change Project Framework > Project Gates

 

There is a basic principle in project management whereby the project is paused at critical points to ask critical questions to ensure that sufficient value will be delivered within a reasonable timescale.

The resourcing transaction

The basic principle of the gate process is a transaction between sponsors and the project manager, exchanging approval to proceed, along with requisite resource and support in exchange for project and benefit delivery, including use of risk-reducing and confidence-building management methods. The basic exchange is as follows:
 

Project manager Approver
I promise to deliver X by date Y.

I will use methods Z in working and reporting to you.

I am confident in you and your promises.

I promise to give you resource A and support B.

 

Gates, checkpoints and milestones

These three words are often used in similar circumstances and definitions vary. The differences used here are:

  • Milestones are points of completion or achievement on a plan, for example completing a document or getting agreement from a customer.
  • Checkpoints are calendar points at which the project reports progress, for example weekly checkpoint meetings.
  • Gates are formal points in the project where resourcing for continued work is agreed.

Passing the gate

The actual passing of the gate is typically done in a series of meetings in which key stakeholders agree to plans and commit needed resource and support.

Gate approval will vary with the project but typically includes:

  • Review and agreement with the Change Program Manager
  • Review and agreement of detail with key operational managers
  • Agreement of support arrangement with Executive Sponsor
  • Presentation to management teams for discussion and commitment.

The final approval may well be given in a gate meeting with key resource holders who jointly agree to permitting the project to proceed.

The gate usually looks in two directions:

  • Backwards to determine whether the previous phase of activity is satisfactorily completed, and
  • Forwards to determine whether the project is ready to continue and adds sufficient value.

Note that the attention and rigor required in passing the gate depends very much on the resource that is being committed.

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