Gateway Review Process

Last updated: 12 February 2014

The Gateway Review Process is one of three functions carried out by the Major Project Assurance group.

Update 12 February 2014:

A second SSC Gateway report is now available outlining lessons learned from Gateway Reviews between 2011 and 2013. The report should be essential reading for business owners or project managers responsible for delivering any sort of business change, ICT development or construction project. The report contains some helpful tips on how to improve the success of your project and the lessons are summarised for you under 15 key themes.

Since 2001 the Major Projects Assurance group has been located in the State Services Commission. On 2 December 2013 the group transferred to the Treasury, as part of the Portfolio Performance Management group. In the New Year this guidance will be repositioned on the Treasury website at: www.treasury.govt.nz/publications/guidance/mgmt/majorprojects

 

This page contains an overview of the Gateway Review Process for high-risk projects. Full information on specific aspects of the Gateway Review Process can be found in the 'Resources' section at the bottom of this page.

What is the Gateway review process?

 Gateway is an assurance methodology for major investments. It is a review process that examines programmes and projects at key decision points in their lifecycle to provide assurance that they can progress successfully to the next stage.

Gateway is Cabinet mandated for high risk capital projects in departments and Crown Agents. Each review costs an agency $75,000. Agencies determine whether their projects are high-risk by completing the Risk Assessment Profile.

Gateway reviews are conducted by independent experts (private and public sector). At each 'gate' the project or programme owner requests a review. SSC sends in a hand-picked team of reviewers to provide peer review support to the project team. The review team spends a week interviewing all major stakeholders and analysing available documentation. At the end of the week they write a short report with recommendations for the project owner.

In New Zealand, Gateway is part of Treasury's Capital Asset Management (CAM) regime and is administered by SSC.

The Gateway methodology was developed in 2001 by the UK's Office of Government Commerce. It was adopted by the Victorian Department of Treasury and Finance in 2003 and the Australian Federal Government in 2006. The New Zealand Cabinet agreed to implement Gateway in 2007. 

What Projects Does Gateway Apply To?

 The Gateway regime applies to any Departmental or Crown Agent programme or project, regardless of the size of the project or the funding source, that:

  1. Would expose the government to significant fiscal or ownership risk if it were not delivered within the projected functionality, cost, and timelines - and -
  2. Is categorised as High Risk - or -
  3. The responsible Minister requests be Gateway-reviewed.

The Gateway Unit determines whether a project or programme is high risk, based on its assessment of an initial Risk Profile Assessment provided by the relevant agency, and other factors.

Projects

If a project is assessed as High Risk it will be expected to undertake Gateway Reviews commencing with a Gate 1: Business Justification & Options. A Gate 1 review is required before Cabinet approval of the Stage 1 Business Case. The project must then move sequentially through the full suite of Gateway Reviews at appropriate times in the project's life cycle. For projects with a strong strategic focus, the Gateway Unit strongly recommends and may require a Gate 0 review.

Programmes

If a programme is assessed as High Risk it will be subject to a strategically focused Gate 0 Review at the very early stages of programme initiation. These reviews are repeatable at significant points throughout the programme's life cycle and in some cases, projects may also benefit from such early assessment. (Refer to the Gateway Review workbooks for an explanation of each of the Gate Reviews).

Definitions

For the purposes of Gateway:

  • A programme coordinates and integrates a specific set of related projects identified by an organisation that, together, will achieve a strategic business goal.
  • A project has definite start and finish dates, a clearly defined output, a well defined development path, and a defined set of financial and other resources allocated to it. Benefits are achieved after the project has finished; and the project plans should include activities to plan, measure and assess the benefits achieved by the project.

The advantages of Gateway

Reviews are short and sharp, lasting one week.

Review teams are made up of independent senior reviewers who can relate on a peer level to project sponsors, gaining their trust. Team members are chosen for their areas of expertise and vetted for conflicts of interest.

Reviews have full access to stakeholders, including ministers. Review reports are confidential to the project sponsor, and interviews with stakeholders are non-attributable. This promotes full disclosure.

Gateway is focused on coaching and mentoring, not monitoring or audit. Gateway reviews frequently act as a "circuit-breaker" for projects that have got stuck on a particular issue, that have inadequate organisational support, or are dysfunctional in some way.

Gateway also provides professional development for New Zealand government staff who participate as review team members, both here and in Australia. They gain valuable exposure to the challenges faced by a major capital project, and insights as to how these challenges can be met, which they can then bring back to their own organisations.

Based on benchmarking studies in the UK, if all projects currently in the Gateway pipeline get the full set of Gateway reviews, the result will be $400 million saved through cost avoidance.

Lessons Learned: identifying good practice

The Gateway process aims to identify good practice as well as common causes of project failure and to encourage agencies to share lessons learned throughout the life of the project.

The Gateway Unit plans to release Lessons Learned reports periodically, to assist agencies in their management of projects. These reports will highlight opportunities for improvements in project management practices, based on the leanings from Gateway reviews

Treasury Gateway Unit Contact Details

Phone: +64 4 472 2733, Email: gatewayunit@treasury.govt.nz

 

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