Stage 1: Project Mandate
The starting point of any project is an idea. This can come from almost anywhere, for example:
- a new Government directive or other statutory requirement
- a funding opportunity or call for proposals
- a strategy or action plan
- a commitment in a service plan
- a service review or service improvement plan
- a Ward plan or Member request
- an example of good practice from another area.
Whatever the source of the idea, for it to become a project, an appropriate Programme Board need to take ‘ownership’ of the idea, confirming that it is in line with their objectives and current priorities and commissioning the next stage of project development work.
The first step is therefore to contact your Directorate Programme Manager with a brief description of your idea. They will firstly check the project database (to be developed as part of the new Project Management System) to see if we’ve been here before. However, even if a project has been considered previously and rejected, circumstances may have changed to make the project now a viable proposition.
The Directorate Programme Manager will then identify the relevant programme and work with that programme manager and programme director to review the project idea against the programme objectives, existing portfolio and performance, available resources and their alternative uses. This will then be presented to the Programme Board, who will make a decision as to whether the idea is worth pursuing.
Project ideas may also be generated within the programme itself, from a review of the current project portfolio against the programme’s objectives and targets to identify where new initiatives may be needed to address gaps or shortfalls in delivery.
The Gateway 1 template includes a section where you are asked to define what the project is which is seeking approval – e.g. a feasibility study, development of a funding bid, procurement of a capital project, service improvement initiative, etc. The template includes a drop-down menu to select options from, or you can define a new project type if needed. The reason for including this is that it’s important for the project approvals to be specific so that projects don’t automatically “roll on” e.g. from feasibility study to delivery with no formal approval or proper resourcing of the wider follow-on project. Completing this will also help people find your project in future if, for example, someone is looking for lessons learned from previous projects of this type.
Gateway 1 requires a short template to be completed for submission to the Programme Board. This won't usually need to be any more than a single side of A4.
The process to take a project through this first gateway is illustrated here.