By Stanley E. Portny

The decision whether or not to allow a proposed project to proceed to the next phase of its life cycle (organizing and preparing) is the last step of the first stage of the project’s life cycle (starting the project). The last step of one phase that leads to the first step of another phase is called a phase gate.

To maintain control over the progress of a project, it’s essential to assess how a project has progressed as measured by its key performance indicators (KPIs) and only to allow those projects that have met or exceeded their performance targets to proceed to the next phase.

If one or more of a project’s KPIs do not meet the established standards, the organization must decide whether to have the project remain in its current stage and work to improve the unacceptable KPIs to acceptable levels, or whether to cancel the project completely.

Projects are evaluated in one of two ways in order to determine whether they should be allowed to proceed to the organizing-and-preparing stage of their life cycle:

  • Individually, against a set of minimum acceptable values of the established project descriptive and performance data that must be achieved for a project to proceed to the next phase.
  • In a group with one or more other projects — first, as described in the preceding bullet, to identify those projects that meet the minimum requirements for proceeding to the next life-cycle phase, and second, to determine the relative rank in each of the descriptive and performance data categories that met the minimum standards.

The decision about which projects will proceed to the organizing-and-preparing phase of their life cycle (commonly referred to as a “Go/No-Go Decision”) will be based on the total amount of funds available to support the type of projects proposed in this group and the relative rankings of the desirability of each of the projects.