Gateway Review Themes and Insights 2016-2022
Although the public sector investment system makes up a fraction of the annual budget (approximately $20 billion per annum in real terms) it has a significant impact on both the quality of public assets and the operational effectiveness of public services. Gateway reviews were implemented in 2008 to better understand the issues projects face and to increase confidence in investment decisions and in the delivery of required project benefits to time and budget.
A review of Gateway reports on major projects from 2016-2023 identified areas in the system that experts are regularly seeing as problematic, particularly for investments that have lower levels of delivery confidence. The major findings are very similar to those identified for the 2008-2015 period – changing in ranking only. These observations are a good indication where ongoing support will have the greatest impacts on improving investment design and delivery success.
The following diagram summarises the top 5 themes* from Gateway reports and how often recommendations were noted:
Programme and Project management
Programme and Project Management covers a range of topics. The most common sub-theme was planning. Recommendations specifically related to lack of planning, poorly thought through approaches to implementation, lack of a critical path and inadequate timelines/roadmaps or schedules. This has strong links to the Business Case recommendations in Context, Aim and Scope below.
Communications was the second most common sub-theme. Recommendations related to a lack of communications plans/strategies, poor or a lack of useful communication collateral and the need to tell the ‘project story’ clearly and succinctly to key audiences.
Context, Aim and Scope
The ‘Business Case’ is a significant sub-theme (70% of recommendations were business case related within this theme). Some of the areas raised are that Business Cases:
- were not strong enough to gain approval
- required further development, particularly in executive summaries, alignment to strategy, options, benefits, overall clarity, and credible analysis
- needed to focus more on implementation or delivery approaches and overall future planning to assure the investor that the project was do-able within the stated cost and time envelopes.
Change Management and Transition
A significant number of recommendations highlighted that organisations needed more effective planning and establishment activities before a project could be transitioned to business-as-usual. This made it difficult for staff to engage with new processes and delayed benefits realisation.
The governance themes most common focus is on Governance structures and processes. Occurrence of governance recommendations increases for the more challenged projects. Some of the areas raised include:
- Composition and membership of the Governance Board lacks the right mix of experience or authority.
- Confused or inappropriate structures or inadequate oversight given the risk and challenges or changing needs of the project.
- Lack of clarity of roles, accountabilities and decision-making responsibilities of Governance members.
Risks, Issues, Dependencies
These observations related to inconsistencies / shortcomings in the identification, management and governance focus, and reporting of risks, Issues and dependencies. While this theme can be related to Governance and Project management, there were a sufficient number of recommendations to group them as a separate theme.
The distribution of recommendation themes* across these projects shifts from the general pattern. While issues with Project Management continue to feature most commonly, the most significant change is the increased frequency of issues relating to Governance.
Classification of Themes*
|Project and Programme management
|This theme covers all aspects of project, programme, and portfolio management, but excludes recommendations on Risk, Issues and Dependency Management and Resource Management.
|Governance recommendations relate to the oversight, structure and decision making of a project or programme. This theme also includes recommendations relating to alignment with pan government priorities, strategies and controls.
|Context, Aim and Scope
|This theme relates to recommendations that are aimed at the clarity of change to be implemented. It covers alignment to vision, strategy, objectives, justification and the description of change; and the determination of success and the necessary environment to ensure success.
|Risks Issues and Dependency Management
|This theme includes all aspects relating to the identification, analysis, impact assessment, response and the on-going review and management of Risks, Issues and Dependencies (i.e. outputs that are required by a project to succeed, but which will be delivered by parties not under the direct control of the project).
|Change Management and Transition
|These recommendations relate to Management of Business Change – all the work required with and in the business and with the customer to make ready for the initiative, in terms of changes to business processes including: ` business continuity planning ` changes to work processes and resourcing ` changes to organisational structures and staffing to support transformational or process changes to business delivery to ensure a smooth transition to Business as Usual (BAU). It does not include Technology Readiness for Service.
|Stakeholder Management is focussed around the relationships with all parties with an interest in the outcome of the project or programme, whether internal to the agency, internal to government or external.
|Resource and Skills Management
|The identification, supply, optimisation, prioritisation and maintenance of resources and appropriate skills.
|Includes financial management, Knowledge management, benefits management Technology Alignment to Strategy and Integration.