Article #435 Using Stage Gates to Enforce Project Governance while Communicating a Real-Time Single Version of the Truth Performance Status of Capital Construction Projects for Real Estate Development Directors, Managers, Investors, and Other Executive Stakeholders

Capital construction projects are generally high-risk investments given the significant amounts of cash, complexity, stakeholders with conflicting interests, rules, and regulations to comply with, and duration that they span for. As a result of these challenges, project-level risks can easily become enterprise-level risks. The Project Management Institute (PMI) Pulse of the Profession® survey for the year 2020 revealed that an average of 11.4 percent of investment is wasted due to poor project performance (

Senior executives, whether at private sector or public sector organizations, have the responsibility to exercise their duties to enforce corporate as well as project governance. Project governance is defined as the collective business framework used to plan and deliver all commercial and technical aspects of the capital project. It will become the basis for making informed decisions, underpinned by strategic insight and effective risk management.

The Stage-Gate Review Process is a formal project life phase-driven go/no-go decision point where selected project deliverables for each stage are reviewed to ensure that the organization’s requirements are met which are a requirement to enforce project governance. Project Management Information Systems (PMIS) like PMWeb include the Stage-Gate Review Process as well as the many other business processes of control, oversight, and assurance over the selection, development, and execution of capital projects to ensure a transparent, accountable, and auditable project delivery environment.

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PMWeb stage-gate module will be used by each organization to identify the project life cycle stages along with their needed details such as the stage gatekeeper, duration of the stage, the project schedule activity it relates to, among other details. In addition, all stage deliverables needed for the successful completion of each project life cycle stage will be also defined. For each stage gate deliverable, PMWeb allows capturing the PMWeb business process used to create the deliverable, the link to the documents that detail the deliverable if it was not generated from a PMWeb business process, Work Breakdown Structure (WBS) level, and project schedule activity associated with the deliverable, duration, start and finish dates, responsibility, and other needed information. Additional user-defined fields can be added to the stage-gate header as well as the stage-gate deliverables if this was needed.

For stage-gate deliverables that need to be linked to deliverable documents, whether those were generated by a PMWeb business process or not, it is highly recommended that the PMWeb document management system repository filing structure is aligned with the stage gates and stage-gate deliverables. Folders will be created to map the project life cycle stages while subfolders will be created to map the deliverables of the stage-gate.

This will enable the organization to upload and store the deliverables’ documents under their designated subfolder. Access permission rights can be added to each folder and subfolder to restrict access. In addition, all versions of each deliverable document will be captured with the option of showing the latest version only.

In addition, PMWeb allows linking each stage deliverable with its relevant business process managed in PMWeb. PMWeb comes ready with most of the common business processes needed to manage the delivery of capital construction projects.

These include for example the project schedule, cost estimates, project budget, procurement bid packages, awarded contracts, change orders, progress invoices, risk register, meeting minutes, submittals, risk registers, prequalification, organization chart, resource requirements among others.

In addition, links can be also added to newly created business processes using PMWeb visual custom form builder. Those could include the project business case, project charter, scope management plan, stakeholder requirements, testing and inspection checklists, communication management plan, environmental impact analysis among many others.

For each business process, PMWeb allows attaching all relevant supportive documents, whether those were stored in the PMWeb document management repository or not as well as adding links to transactions of other business processes that are relevant to the stage deliverable transaction.

To enforce transparency and accountability when executing those business processes, PMWeb allows assigning a workflow for each process. The workflow will map the submit, review ana approve tasks as well as the duration for each task, responsibility to perform the task, others who need to be copied on the task as well as available review actions to be taken for each task. The workflow can be also designed to incorporate the approval authority levels needed for most cost-related business processes.

If there is a requirement to attach the output form of a specific business process transaction to the stage deliverable, then this is also possible. Although PMWeb comes ready with the output forms for most of the ready-to-use business processes, nevertheless, it is also possible for the organization to design their output form using their branding and formatting requirements. For example, the output form shown below is for the interim payment certificate (IPC) form.

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If the requirement was more of a report or a register of the different transactions of a specific business process like for example, the change order register, then PMWeb provides the option to generate this report. The report which will be linked to the stage-gate deliverable can be designed in any desired form or format.

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If the required report is based on the data from different interrelated business processes like for example awarded contracts, change orders and interim payment certificates, then also this can be done using PMWeb report writer. The report can be designed to include hyperlinks to the specific transactions of each business process included in the report to enable the report reader to drill down and view the details of that specific transaction. Similar to all other PMWeb output forms and reports, the layout and format of this report can be fully customized to meet the organization’s reporting requirements.

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Additional reports can be also designed to summarize closely interrelated business processes like for example those of awarded contracts, change orders and interim payment certificates displayed above with other business processes needed to provide a comprehensive understanding of one of the project’s management areas, like for example the project’s commercial management. This would require combing the budget and budget adjustments and transfers with the awarded contracts, change orders, and interim payment certificates processes. The project’s commercial status report shown below provides an overall summary of the project’s financial status to date. The reader of this report can drill down for more details if needed.

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When the deliverables of a specific project life cycle are completed, then the stage GateKeeper along with the assigned committee will assess the stage to determine whether the project can proceed to the next stage, conditional proceed, put the project on hold or cancel the project. This will be done using a predefined weighted score list for which each item needs to be scored.

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Knowing that the value of the personal feedback of those project team members that were involved in the project life cycle stage, PMWeb also allows rating each stage on a scale of 5. The project team members who will be involved in this non-formal rating need to provide the reason for their given score value. The Gatekeeper can decide on which ratings to consider in the assessment.

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All comments made by the Gatekeeper and the committee who were involved in the staged assessment will be captured in PMWeb notes. Those notes will be time and date stamped along with who has provided the input.

Similar to all other business processes managed in PMWeb, a workflow will be assigned to the stage-gate to capture the review and approval tasks. . The workflow will map the submit, review ana approve tasks as well as the duration for each task, responsibility to perform the task, others who need to be copied on the task as well as available review actions to be taken for each task. The workflow can be also designed to incorporate the approval authority levels needed for most cost-related business processes.

The stage-gate review data as well as the data from other business processes like those of budget, budget requests, awarded contracts, change orders, claims, interim payment certificates, actual payments made, baseline and updated project schedule among others will become the basis for generating the project life cycle stage gates status report. Since the data of the different business processes needed to generate the deliverables are managed in PMWeb, the data from all related transactions will become available to be reported on in any desired form and format.

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The organization can also have a dashboard to summarize the performance status of their complete projects’ portfolio. The dashboard would usually include a map to show the location of those projects which could be in a single country or across the globe. Similar to all other reports in PMWeb, the dashboard reader can drill down to the performance dashboard of a single project where he/she can keep drilling down until they reach the business process transaction that provided the reported information.

The projects’ portfolio dashboard could have been designed to include graphical visuals to summarize the reported projects’ performance as well as add filters to enable selecting the projects to be viewed in the dashboard. All those customizations and designs will be done to fulfill the reporting requirements of executive stakeholders.

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About the Authorfounder

Bassam Samman, PMP, PSP, EVP, GPM is a Senior Project Management Consultant with 40-year service record providing project management, project controls services, and project management information systems to over 200 projects with a total value over the US $100 Billion. Those projects included Commercial, Residential, Education and Healthcare Buildings and Infrastructure, Entertainment, Hospitality, and Shopping Malls, Oil and Gas Plants and Refineries, Telecommunication, and Information Technology projects. He is thoroughly experienced in complete 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 topics relating to Project Management, Strategic Project Management, and Project Management Personal Skills. Over the past 40 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 300 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 more than 6 years. He is a certified Project Management Professional (PMP) from the Project Management Institute (PMI), a certified Planning and Scheduling Professional (PSP), and Earned Value Professional (EVP) from the American Association of Cost Engineers (AACE) and Green Project Management (GPM).

Bassam holds a Masters in Engineering Administration (Construction Management) with Faculty Commendation, George Washington University, Washington, D.C., USA, Bachelor in Civil Engineering – 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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