Tim Washington

Tim Washington

Know the Difference Between Work Intake Versus Stage-Gate4 min read

What is the difference between a work intake process and a Stage-Gate process? This is important to distinguish, especially for newer PMO’s that are setting up portfolio management processes.

Work Intake

The work in-take process refers to the steps of developing a project proposal and bringing it to the governance board (or PMO) for a go/no-go decision. This process works in conjunction with Stage-Gate, but can also be a standalone process. When PMO’s are first established, an intake process needs to be defined so that the PMO can manage incoming project requests. Once the portfolio governance team is established and familiar with the intake process, a full Stage-Gate process should be developed.

The work in-take process is important so that all project proposals are created in a consistent manner with common tools and processes.

The unintended consequences of not having a work in-take process include:

  • Organizational confusion—employees will be unclear on how project proposals get brought forward, resulting in fewer project proposals from within the organization
  • Time delays—without a clear understanding of the process, project proposals may be unnecessarily delayed from being reviewed
  • Quality erosion—the quality of the proposals may erode and further delay the process since participants may not be aware of the information needed for project reviews.

In order to have a successful work in-take process, all of the roles and responsibilities of each participant in the process needs to be documented and communicated. Some questions that need to be answered include: who will write the proposal (project manager, business analyst, executive sponsor)? What information is needed? What templates need to be filled out? What format must the information be presented? Are there any IT systems that need to be utilized (e.g. SharePoint, portal, portfolio management system)? Are there any time constraints for submitting proposals? Is a presentation needed? Who will make the presentation?

Another important reason to establish a work in-take process is to help control the work in progress (WIP) within the organization. At one Fortune 500 company I worked with there was no “single entry” to the organization. Rather, requests came in through system managers, process engineers, subject matter experts, and other employees. It was nearly impossible to track all of the work being done because there was no “single source of truth”. A lot of shadow work was being done in the organization and it was very difficult to stop it because there was no established or enforced work in-take process. This shadow work eroded portfolio value, took valuable resources away from key projects, and was ‘death by 1000 cuts”.

Work in-take success factors:

  • Having a single “front door to the organization”
  • Clear roles and responsibilities of all participants in the work in-take process
  • Clear understanding of what information needs to be submitted
  • Clear communication about the templates and systems need to be used (if applicable)
  • Clear timetables for submitting requests and making presentations

Stage-Gate

Stage-Gates are a governance structure to evaluate, authorize, and monitor projects as they pass through the project lifecycle. Each gate represents a proceed/modify/hold/stop work decision on the part of the portfolio governance team. Although the Stage-Gate process parallels the project life cycle, the two are not exactly the same. For more information on the project lifecycle please see the Project Management Body of Knowledge Guide 6th Edition (PMBOK) by the Project Management Institute (PMI).

Stage-Gates are a critical component of project selection. A winning portfolio must contain winning projects, therefore the portfolio governance team must be able to discriminate between good projects and great projects. The decision gate process enables the project governance board to review these projects based on predetermined strategic criteria at each gate review of the Stage-Gate process. At each of those gates, important project information is provided to the project governance board to make a go/no-go decision related to the project. Without this mechanism, unnecessary or poorly planned projects can enter the portfolio and bog down the workload of the organization, hampering the benefits realized from truly important and strategic projects. The example framework below highlights the components of a robust Stage-Gate process.

Conclusion

New PMO’s should start by establishing a work intake process to ensure there is one clear path for project requests to reach the PMO. Later, as the organization adopts the work intake process, a full Stage-Gate process can be added on to increase the quality of project proposals and help ensure the portfolio contains winning projects.

This was a guest article written by Tim Washington from Point B.

SHARE THIS POST

LinkedIn
Twitter
Facebook

Related Blog​s

Project Portfolio Management
Tim Washington

The Right Portfolio Data at the Right Time

From a very pragmatic point of view, getting the right data at the right time is at the heart of good project portfolio management. If the right data is not available for decision makers to use, the issue will be mediocre results at best. Portfolio management is about selecting the right projects, optimizing the portfolio…

Read More »
Project Portfolio Management
Dinesh Kashyap

Strengthen Talent Management with PPM

When people refer to the “war for talent” many discussions center on talent acquisition and try to answer the question “how do we hire the best people?” Although talent acquisition is important, talent development and retention are also very important (you want to keep those great people you hired, correct?).

Read More »
Project Portfolio Management
Jamal Moustafaev

How to Determine Resource Pool Available for Your Project Portfolio?

So, here is an example of a “back of the envelope” calculation of total project resources bucket at a company that has proven to be extremely robust.
Imagine that there are 250 employees working at the head office. It has been estimated via survey or questionnaires that approximately 30% of their time is spent on project work and 70% on business as usual, i.e. normal daily non-project tasks. Based on that information we can assess the size of the total project resource bucket at the company:

Read More »

©2020 Cloudbyz Inc. All Rights Reserved.