Task Fulfillment vs. Gate Deliverable Requirement
If we do complete all the critical tasks and use a balanced set of enabling tools to underwrite the integrity of our deliverables, we are doing our best to control risk. We can produce outstanding deliverables, full of integrity and clarity, that simply do not meet the requirements for the project and its business case. We then have great data that tells us we can't meet our goals. This is how a gate-keeping team can kill a project with confidence. Not many companies kill projects very often, and even fewer do it with tool/task/deliverable confidence.
We have two views to consider when managing risk and making gate decisions:
- Fulfillment of the requirements so that we have a positive "green light" to continue investing in the project
- Lack of fulfillment of the gate requirements so that we have a negative "yellow or red light" that signals a redirection of the project or an outright discontinuance of the project
Gatekeepers concern themselves with only yellow and red deliverables that they can do something about in terms of their influence, budgets, and control of resources. Gatekeepers should see only items of risk that they truly can affect. All subordinate areas of risk should be dealt with at the appropriate level. Bringing risk items to executives at the tool and task levels is a waste of their time; those items belong down in the functional management area, with those who have the ability to directly deal with the issue.
A color-coded scheme of classifying risk can be defined as follows:
- Green—All major deliverables are properly documented and fulfill the gate requirements. A few minor deliverables might be lagging, but present no substantive risk to the success of the project in time, cost, or quality.
- Yellow—A very few major deliverables are not complete or fall short of fulfilling their requirements. A corrective action plan is documented, and a very high probability exists that the problems can be overcome in a reasonable and predictable amount of time.
- Red—One or more major deliverables are not done or do not meet requirements, and no corrective action plan exists to close this gap. The project will be either killed or redirected or postponed until a corrective set of specific actions is defined and a predictable path to project timing is in hand.
This is a suggested set of ranking values to quantify the risk associated with varying levels of mismatch between what is delivered from a major task against the gate requirement:
- 10 = Results deliver all data necessary to completely support the fulfillment or lack of fulfillment of the gate requirements.
- 9–8 = Results deliver a major portion of the data necessary to support the fulfillment or lack of fulfillment of the gate requirements.
- 7–4 = Results deliver a moderate amount of the data necessary to support the fulfillment or lack of fulfillment of the gate requirements.
- 3–1 = Results deliver a very limited amount of the data necessary to support the fulfillment or lack of fulfillment of the gate requirements.
We have demonstrated how a tool scorecard documents the quality of tool use, integrity of the data, and fulfillment of a task. We have gone on to the next level of scoring risk by defining a task scorecard. Here we can quantify how well one or more enabling tools have contributed to completing a major task, what percentage of the task has been completed, and how well the deliverables from the task fulfill the gate requirements. We are now ready to look at the final summary scorecards that a gate-keeping team can use to quantify risk accrual at the end of a phase of work.