Per an earlier post (here), it is important to ask how to ensure that stage gates — and project reviews for that matter — are relevant to the project at hand. It’s pretty simple IMO.
- Make sure that the stage gates match the project phase. It is amazing how many gate reviews are conducted with a single set of questions. There should be a general set of questions as well as a phase-specific set. The questions in a gate review must match the expected deliverables for that gate.
- Structure the gate to include sessions that focus on the key capabilities and their associated deliverables. This approach ties the review more tightly to the expected benefits of the project/program.
- Have subject matter experts involved during these capability-focused sessions. We often pair these SMEs with another PM who leads the review. They jointly review and prepare the questions. Then the project reviewers ask most of the questions, while the SME jumps in on follow-ups or asks any technically-advanced questions.