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Project Management: Phase Gate Review Process
By Larry Gunter

How does the Phase Gate Review methodology improve project effectiveness?

The Phase Gate Review methodology improves project effectiveness by reviewing all stages of the project from the initial selection process through the entire process of development to the final stages of closure. The phases of the project are natural stopping points to stop and look back over what has been accomplished and determine if the required deliverables are being met and the project scope and schedule needs to be adjusted going forward or the project has a green light to proceed or red to stop or abandon elements or all of the project (Gray & Larson, 2008, p. 524).

The Phase Gate Review methodology is an easy structure to understand and work from. The stages are natural fits into the overall project portfolio. The methodology will answer key questions at each stage of the process to help improve effectiveness of the tasks being performed or the teams that are performing the tasks.

The straightforward approach makes the answers objective and non-confrontational (Gray & Larson, 2008, pp. 525-526). The business strategy is weaved into the questions and measures the effectiveness of the project by the answers given.

The outcome of each Phase Gate Review stage givens the project or individual tasks a simple action to follow during the intermission of each stage. The first is go ahead with the project. The second is kill the project. The third is hold on to the project progression. The fourth is recycle which is essentially a do over of the previous stage (Spark & McDonough, 2009).

How is the Phase Gate Review methodology negative in project management?

The methodology is too inflexible to really plan ahead for risk management. The fact that there is a recycled response means that efforts to learn prior to a project failure is not possible.

The hit and miss methodology does not take into consideration that some tasks are so uniquely special that failure needs to be avoided prior to the end of the stage and not evaluated afterwards as a recycled task. This could cause cost overruns or constrains on project resources.

The importance of being aware of upcoming risks is that the project team are asking the stage questions all through the project and not at specific intervals so the project can continue on time, and within a set budget (Proffitt, 2010).


Gray, C., & Larson, E. (2008). BUS 517: Project management, The managerial process: 2009 custom edition (4th Edition ed.). Boston, MA: McGraw-Hill.
Proffitt, M. (2010, June 16). Staged Gate accepts failure instead of ensuring success.
Spark, K. D., & McDonough, M. (2009, August 25). An Introduction to Stage Gate Analysis.

Larry Gunter, MBA is a Training Development Consultant at Verizon Wireless. You can read more from Larry on his blog, and you can contact him via his LinkedIn profile.

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