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Gateway reviews - lessons learned

The IMAP investment reviews team collates and analyses the findings and recommendations of Gateway reviews and periodically publishes the results in a Lessons Learned report. These lessons learned are observations gained from Gateway reviews which highlight opportunities for project and programme management improvements in New Zealand Government agencies.

These lessons learned are observations gained from Gateway reviews which highlight opportunities for project and programme management improvements in New Zealand Government agencies.

To date four reports have been published - refer below:

The results presented in these four reports are an analysis of 188 Gateway reviews conducted across 86 projects and 41 agencies, from the inception of Gateway in New Zealand in May 2008 through to May 2016.

Good Practice

Positive lessons learned tend to emerge as projects progress to second and later reviews. In the period covered by this fourth report, seven projects were reviewed at Gate 4, 'Readiness for Service'.  All have since successfully transitioned into service.

The review reports identified several other agencies with projects on track to deliver successful outcomes through sound programme and project management principles.  These agencies generally share the following good practice fundamentals, which match many of Gateway's key themes: 

  • Projects strongly aligned with government and organisation policies and goals; project success criteria that clearly link objectives to outcomes, and clear links with agency key strategic priorities.
  • Clear senior management and Ministerial ownership and leadership, including an engaged senior executive as Senior Responsible Owner (SRO).
  • Clear governance arrangements and active governance oversight that ensures ongoing alignment with business objectives.
  • Effective stakeholder engagement to help analyse, segment and appropriately engage the right people at the right time, with active management of critical stakeholder issues.
  • Organisational commitment to good project/programme and risk management practice.
  • A team with the necessary skills and expertise; the whole project organisation requires the appropriate skills, not just the project manager.
  • Sound commercial knowledge of the supplier marketplace, linked to the requirements, and careful and appropriate management of the supplier over the contract term.
  • Effective team integration between clients, the supplier team and the supply chain.
  • Robust business cases with transparent underlying drivers, well-researched and rigorously analysed options, and clearly defined benefits with specific metrics and delivery timeframes.
  • Effective financial control, including the application of earned value techniques as a means of tracking progress against financial expenditure and effort.

Key Themes

To date the Gateway reviews conducted in New Zealand have made a total of 2290 recommendations.

The lessons learned presented in the reports are grouped by key themes; the themes have remained fairly consistent over the Gateway reviews carried out in New Zealand to date, but the rankings are changing over time.

The table below shows the themes, ranked in order of frequency of findings and showing the changes in emphasis over the three Lessons Learned reports:

Themes from Lessons Learned reports
Report 4, 2017
(Reviews 151-200)
Report 3, 2015
(Reviews 101-150)
Report 2, 2013
(Reviews 051-100)
1 Governance Governance Business Case
2 RAID (Risks, Assumptions, Issues, Dependencies) Sourcing strategy/ management Risk & issue management
3 Business case Business case Governance
4 Transition into srvice Risk & issue management Sourcing strategy/management
5 Sourcing strategy/management Programme/Project management Transition into service
6 Programme & Project Management Stakeholder management Programme & Project management
7 Stakeholder management Resourcing Resourcing
8 Resourcing Benefits realisation Stakeholder management
9 Benefits realisation & management Transition into service Benefits realisation
10 Management of change Programme/Project planning Management of change
11 Financial planning & management Management of change Programme/Project planning
12 Programme/project planning Capturing lessons learned Financial management
13 Capturing lessons learned Methodology Methodology
14 Methodology Financial management Dependency management

Analysis of the changes in theme ranking identifies some key issues:

  • Governance is a significant and growing concern, in part because the increasing trend towards large complex multi-agency and all-of-government projects requires a lift in capability.  There are significant concerns that expectations are exceeding capability in this area.
  • RAID (Risks, Assumptions, Issues and Dependencies) management is a consistently weak area in the majority of projects reviewed.
  • Although the number of recommendations around Business Cases has dropped since the introduction of Better Business Cases (BBC), it remains a key theme and there is still significant uncertainty about use of the BBC process.
  • Concerns continue around the application of core project and programme management disciplines with a startling proportion (65%) of recommendations showing a lack of maturity in these areas.

Gateway Lessons Learned analysis, with information derived from other central agency processes[1] contributes to the Treasury’s understanding of the issues, underlying problems and trends in government projects and has helped to identify key areas of focus for the Corporate Centre.


  • [1] Eg  Major Projects Monitoring and Portfolio Performance data collection, Investor Confidence Rating.
Last updated: 
Friday, 22 September 2017