DMAIC Tollgate Reviews

At the end of each phase of a DMAIC project we want to demonstrate to our sponsor and stakeholders that we are progressing through the in a thoughtful and meaningful way. In a DMAIC project, this means reviewing our findings and sharing appropriate artifacts at the end of each phase.

This approach gives our sponsors and stakeholders an update on how the project is progressing, but it also allows us to take a ‘pulse check’ and make certain we are delivering to their expectations. A DMAIC practitioner is not only participating in a tollgate session for the benefit of a sponsor. It’s also a great opportunity to leverage their knowledge and perspective of the organization and business climate to make better solutions. Oftentimes a sponsor can help remove obstacles the team is facing and offer insight on how to progress.

photo by Cliff

photo by Cliff

How to Create a DMAIC Tollgate Presentation

We have carefully examined the original request, understand the questions we have remaining and have a project plan that will get us to resolution.

The sponsors I have worked with have vastly preferred a ‘peel-the-onion’ approach: (Ex, start with an concise problem statement, then expand logically) over a timeline-based approach (we did this, then this, then this.) Your sponsor may be different.

First I would clarify in my head what I wanted / needed from her. My ‘ask’ list might be something like the following:

  • Does this align with expectations?
  • Are there any externalities that might affect this initiative that we have not accounted for?
  • Are there any resources (people, teams, on-going or historical projects) that we haven’t made use of that we should?
  • Assistance with any roadblocks or obstacles my team had encountered.

Example Define / Measure Tollgate

  • Open
  • Executive Summary (Serves for re-orientation and defining the project vocabulary)
  • Opportunity -> Benefits
  • Approach
    • Scope (the What)
    • Timeline & deliverables (the project plan)
    • Risks & dependencies
    • Stakeholders & resources
  • Conclusion
    • Reiterate the executive summary and the asks
  • Appendix
    • Any polished materials that I had completed that might be useful in a sidebar conversation.


Tollgate Reviews

D: Define

  • Full project definition
  • Make a project charter
  • Identify the Clients, their needs & their requirements
    • Who are they?
    • What do they need? (try a 1 word answer)
    • What is absolutely critical to success? (Use a Critical to Quality Tree)
  • Make a Process Map

M: Measure

A: Analyze

I: Improve

  • Implementation of basic improvements.

C: Control

  • Revised control processes in place.
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