Article #239 Ensuring Complete Benefit Assessment Driven Stage Gate Review and Approval in Delivering Capital Project Investments

For organizations that invest in capital projects, having tangible or intangible benefits on those investments is a must requirement. Those benefits could be financial return, improved productivity, reduced waste, socioeconomic benefits, creating of new job opportunities, reduced pollution, complying with new rules and regulations, and supporting strategic objectives, among many others. Having this formal stage gate assessment as an integral part of each capital project is a must, but even more true in the post-Corona or Covid-19 Virus Era, where investing in failed projects should not permit anymore.

Enforcing formal stage gate review will enable those organizations to implement effective monitoring, evaluation, and reporting of anticipated project benefits. This requires that each stage gate review include three types of assessment. The first is the stage deliverables assessment which is what most stage gate reviews will use. This review will ensure that all predefined deliverables for each stage are completed, reviewed, and approved. The second stage, gate review, is a weighted scoring assessment that could partially be generic for all capital projects but will also include a scoring evaluation that is specific for each project. The third and final assessment is a 5-point executive assessment where selected senior stakeholders will score on a scale of 5 points on how much they believe the anticipated project’s benefits are worthwhile.

Using a Project Management Information System (PMIS) like PMWeb, the three-level stage gate review process comes ready by default. PMWeb stage gate module will be used to create the project life cycle stage gate review, which could vary depending on the project’s complexity, value, location, and delivery method. The periods for stage gate reviews could exceed the traditional project life cycle phases if needed. For each stage, the list of deliverables needs to be added.

For each defined stage and deliverables with each stage, details are to be added to better describe and align them with other related project management processes. For example, each stage and deliverable needs to be associated with the relevant project schedule activity, either created in PMWeb or imported from Primavera P6 or MS Project. Other essential details include the Stage-Gate Keeper, WBS Level, and others where PMWeb allows adding user-defined fields to capture those details. Those user-defined fields could be text, dates, numeric, list values, and Boolean.

To enforce governance on each stage’s deliverables, we will add links to those deliverables to their data source. Some data sources could be PMWeb default modules such as cost estimates, budgets, risk registers, and commitment contracts. In contrast, many others could be newly created records using PMWeb visual custom form builder. Those could include, for example, the project charter and business case, among many others. Adding this link to the relevant record will automatically update the stage gate with the current review and approval workflow status for each deliverable.

The stage gate scoring will fulfill the second stage gate review requirement. PMWeb scoring modules allow the organization to create all needed scoring checklists for stage gates and other PMWeb modules with the scoring option. For each score checklist, PMWeb allows defining the different types of scoring questions. Those could include a list of values, text, numeric, currency, date, attachment, radio buttons, and date/time, among others. For each scoring item, PMWeb allows defining the available score points and the weight of each score. In addition, fields for notes, among others, can also be added.

The repository of all created scoring checklists will become available to be assigned to the relevant stage, as it is quite possible that the scoring review for each stage will differ. PMWeb captures the provided answer and score value for each assessed score item. PMWeb also provides the option to use each scoring item in calculating the stage score value. Usually, this second assessment with specialized technical resources to provide the proper response for each score question.

The third assessment level, which the senior executive stakeholders will do, will be based on a 5-point score, where five means that the stakeholder strongly believes that the project’s benefits will be attained. In contrast, a score of 1 will indicate that the stakeholder strongly disbelieves the project’s benefits will be achieved. For each provided score, the stakeholder can add comments to explain their reason for the provided score. PMWeb will automatically calculate the average weight of the provided score with the option of not selecting some of the provided scores if required.

The data captured in those three assessment levels will provide the project team members responsible for reviewing and approving a stage gate with the needed content to complete their approval process. The review and approval process tasks will follow the sequence established in the workflow module. The workflow could include conditions to map the approval authority levels if needed.

The stage gate status report will provide the organization with real-time information to monitor, evaluate and report the performance of each project phase deliverables. The form can be designed in the desired form and format to meet the organization’s reporting requirements.

About the Authorfounder

Bassam Samman, PMP, PSP, EVP, GPM, is a Senior Project Management Consultant with over 35-year service record providing project management and controls services to over 100 projects with a total value of over US $5 Billion. Those projects included Commercial, Residential, Education, and Healthcare Buildings and Infrastructure, Entertainment and Shopping Malls, Oil and Gas Plants and Refineries, Telecommunication, and Information Technology projects. He is thoroughly experienced in project management, including project management control systems, computerized project control software, claims analysis/prevention, risk analysis/management (contingency planning), design, supervision, training, and business development.

Bassam is a frequent speaker on Project Management, Strategic Project Management, and Project Management Personal Skills. Over the past 35 years, he has lectured at more than 350 events and courses at different locations in the Middle East, North Africa, Europe, and South America. He has written more than 250 articles on project management and project management information systems that were featured in international and regional magazines and newspapers. He is a co-founder of the Project Management Institute- Arabian Gulf Chapter (PMI-AGC) and has served on its board of directors for over six years. He is a certified Project Management Professional (PMP) from the Project Management Institute (PMI), an accredited Planning and Scheduling Professional (PSP), an Earned Value Professional (EVP) from the American Association of Cost Engineers (AACE), and a Green Project Management (GPM).

Bassam holds a Master’s in Engineering Administration (Construction Management) with Faculty Commendation from George Washington University, Washington, DC, USA, Bachelor in Civil Engineering – from Kuwait University, Kuwait, and has attended many executive management programs at Harvard Business School, Boston, USA, and London Business School, London, UK.


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