Managing a Project Stage Gate – Part 1
A staged date is a meeting of the project steering group or project board if you will along with the project manager at the end of a delivery stage. Typically, the meeting will be an hour or less.
The meeting is to check back on the stage just finished, a check on the current stage for the whole project and then look forward to the next stage and check its plan.
Statements are important, but along with all other responsibilities of a project board, this is one of the worst managed areas within projects. Often they are done badly or not at all – other than superficially to make things look good.
Managing a project stage date is the responsibility of the project board just like senior managers within the department but- do it badly, and the department will fail, do it badly, and the project will fail.
The objective of the project stage gate is to check that the that the project has been set up properly and is being run well. Most important of all the project stage gate is a vital control point for the project.
The three steps of the project stage gate – looking back
Here is a list of items to help check on the delivery stage the has just finished. You may do some checking in advance of the meeting or have checks done by the project audit function. If there has been an audit, you should review the findings before the stage gate meeting not during it.
Stage completion report
Review the reports provided by the project manager. You may have asked the project manager to do this as a business presentation with notes of the details; that requirement will be set down in the communications plan.
The review may take at least some of the remaining points on this checklist.
Make sure that everything that the project has delivered everything it was supposed to have done during this stage.
Also check to any necessary acceptance is or signoffs have been obtained.
Check to ensure that the required quality was delivered and that necessary tests and checks were performed.
Timing and performance
Review the use of staff hours in comparison with the original plan, and also check team performance. If the teams perform better or worse than expected, ask questions to find out why an end to sit the action and implications for the rest of the project.
Review the spending for the stage and helpless the final figure must have the planned amount. Also check on the use of the change budget and risk budget.
If you are not too clear about the different budgets, don’t worry because I’m about to explain that to you shortly.
If useful things were learned for the stage, that means good stuff as well as bad stuff, that would be an immediate help to other projects so get the details from the project manager in order to forward them to others within your organisation.
The three stage budgets
It may help you if I clarify the three budgets where you will authorize the project manager to spend money on the stage:
This is the money for the planned work of the stage
This is money set aside to cover changes. Changes by definition, are not part of the planned work. The budget is conditional. If nobody asks for any changes, the money cannot be spent. It is not a “slush fund” for the project manager to cover overruns and planned work
This is money set aside for any financial impacts of particular risks. The money is Prix a proved by the project board or steering group, and should a risk occur, the project manager can take action and spend the allocated money without further reference to the project board.
So in a similar way to the change budget, the risk budget is conditional. If a particular risk does not occur than the proportion of the risk budget set aside to cover a specific risks financial impact cannot be spent by the project manager on anything else, even on handling another risk.
If the change and risk spending were significantly different to what was anticipated in the budgets, try to establish what it. If the budgets were over generous, you might consider reducing the amounts for future stages.
However, think carefully because the future stages may run differently to the one that is just finished.