Last Updated on 9 September 2023
At the end of each section of DMAIC and DMADV, you need to do a gate review (known as tollgate or phase reviews), which is essentially a progress check. These are a chance to review the project with the project sponsor and stakeholders to review how the project is going, and whether all is going according to plan.
The key aim of toll-gate reviews is to make sure that a section is fully complete before the new section is started. It is usually run jointly by the team leader (usually black belt or green belt) and the champion/sponsor of the project.
Phase reviews by section
The tollgate reviews are actually 5 controls, as there is one at the end of each of the five DMAIC sections. They are easier to go through if you have a checklist you can tick off. You should create one at the start of each section and tick off the sections as you achieve them. They’ll also be very useful for the tollgate review meeting.
For what to check at the review see the individual phase gate review pages:
- Define phase gate review
- Measure phase gate review
- Analyze phase gate review
- Improve phase gate review
- Control phase gate review
Tollgate review outcomes
There are several outcomes that can come out of these:
You go through to the next stage
This is the aim of most gate reviews. If you all agree that the goals of the stage have been met, and that the project is still worth progressing with, the gate review is when the stakeholders will agree that it is time to move onto the next stage. The next stage is a change in focus and will rely on the previous stages, so it’s important to finish off the previous stage and put a line under it before tasks from the next stage are initiated, to avoid wasted effort. This sign off can be marked on the project charter, to make the change in stage official, and to give official sign off to start the next stage of the project.
You have some more work to do before you can move on
This is rarer, but can happen. You may decide during the gate review that you’re not quite ready to go through to the next stage, either because there is value to be gained from doing the stage more thoroughly, or if you’re trying to work out whether there is value in continuing with the project in this form, and want to gather more evidence to see if it is worth either progressing or taking the project in a new direction.
You need to change the scope of the project
As you progress through the project, you’ll find out more about the issues and opportunities. What seemed like the right project plan and project scope may not still be true as you learn more about the issues involved. Sometimes it becomes obvious that the project charter needs to be changed, either to increase the scope when more opportunities are found, or adjustments are made if only part of the issue is worth tackling or even just tweaks to the project direction.
You decide to abandon or postpone the project
Not all projects are worth taking to to completion. A lot of the project involves data gathering, and you will learn about the issue and what can be improved. Sometimes you’ll get to a point when you’ll see that the project is no longer going to get the results you originally hoped for. It costs a lot of effort and resources to carry on with the project, and when resources are precious (which they usually are), they need to be focused where they will reap the most benefits. At this point, you may decide that the project is not worth proceeding with, and you’d be better off focusing your resources elsewhere.