Why is the OGC Gateway review process outdated?


The roots of the United Kingdom Office of Government Commerce (OGC) Gateway process (now known as the Government Major Projects Portfolio (GMPP) Assurance process) can be traced back to the late 1990s in the United Kingdom. It’s aim was (and continues to be) to provide a set of structured, independent reviews at key stages of a project’s lifecycle. Over time, the OGC Gateway process gained traction not only within the UK government but also in other countries, sectors and industries.

There are several reasons why some consider the OGC Gateway assurance review process (and the revamped GMPP Assurance process) to be outdated in today’s modern, customer-centric and fast-paced digital world.

As project management practices continue to rapidly evolve, criticisms have arose regarding the process’s rigidity, lack of adaptability to new methodologies like Agile, Lean, Scrum or Kanban and potential redundancy in certain contexts. In more recent times, the term “Gateway review” itself has been more commonly replaced by more globally-acknowledged terms like “assurance review”, “checkpoint” or “project health check,” reflecting the changing landscape of project management and a more iterative delivery or agile focused world.

Now, after more than 20-years since its release, why do many consider the OGC Gateway process (and its incarnations) to be outdated?

We spoke with one of Australia’s leading assurance advocates, who led the earliest adoption of the the OGC Gateway process for the Australian Commonwealth Government, and assisted other Australian state government jurisdictions adoptions, why do many believe that the OGC Gateway is not a good fit for today’s modern delivery environments?

1. Rigidity:

The OGC Gateway process was developed with a structured and sequential approach to conventional project phases (think ‘waterfall’). This can be seen as inflexible in today’s fast-paced and dynamic project environment, especially with the rise of agile-style and iterative project management methodologies.

2. One-size-fits-all:

Since its inception, the OGC Gateway process was designed to be applicable to a wide range of projects across different sectors. This standardised approach does not always align with the unique characteristics and needs of specific projects, leading to inefficiencies and inaccuracies.

3. Lack of agility:

The OGC Gateway process (even its ‘heyday’) was and is often criticized for its lack of agility. The sequential and conventional nature of the process continues to be seen as not be suitable for projects that require quick decision-making, agility and rapid adjustments in response to changing circumstances and environments.

4. Inadequate focus on benefits:

The OGC Gateway process tends to emphasize project management aspects more than benefits realisation. In modern project management, focusing solely on delivering projects without ensuring the realisation of intended benefits, can lead to suboptimal outcomes – especially for governments when considering, and having to evidence, the effective use of public funds and expected outcomes.

5. Limited stakeholder engagement:

While the core design of the OGC Gateway process involves review panels, the level of stakeholder engagement and collaboration is not be adequate to address the complexity of modern projects, which require constant communication with diverse stakeholders (both internally and externally) – and who can be geographically located throughout the world.

6. Complexity:

The overall OGC Gateway process can be complex and resource-intensive, requiring significant time and effort to conduct reviews and generate documentation/ reports. This complexity does not align well with the need for modern streamlined and efficient project management practices – assurance reviews are a point-in-time assessment, and should be conducted early and often.

7. Adaptation to modern practices:

The OGC Gateway process was developed well before the widespread adoption of agile methodologies, digital transformation, remote delivery teams, MVP releases and other modern digital practices. As a result, OGC Gateway processes do not holistically support projects that embrace these innovative approaches, nor are the often a ‘good fit’ for assuring modern delivery approaches and delivery techniques.

8. Limited focus on continual improvement:

The OGC Gateway process might does not place enough (or required) emphasis on learning from each review to improve future projects. Continuous improvement is crucial in today’s rapidly evolving project landscape, especially as transformations are iterative and progressive in nature – assurance reviews and processes must support and enable ongoing successful outcomes.

It’s important to note that while some consider the OGC Gateway process to be outdated, others might still find value in its structured approach, especially for projects that require stringent oversight, risk management, and compliance.

The evolving nature of project delivery, management, technology, and stakeholder expectations has led many organisations to explore more adaptable and agile assurance processes that better align with modern project realities and more agile ‘ways-of-working’.