DMAIC Tollgate Reviews occur at the end of each phase of a Six Sigma Project. Here we communicate progress to stakeholders and demonstrate that the project is proceeding in a thoughtful and meaningful way.

These updates usually occur at the end of each phase of a DMAIC project. 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.

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 DMAIC Tollgate Reviews

  • 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.

D: Define

M: Measure

A: Analyze

I: Improve

  • Implementation of basic improvements.

C: Control

  • Revised control processes in place.

Comments (4)

Good day. I would like to check the following:
1. Who performs the tollgate reviews?
2. Which of the DMAIC phases are signed off by Finance? I am of the opinion that is only D, I &C
3. When does the project cycle time end? At the end of Improve? Surely the the responsibility moves from belt to process owner, and during Control phase, the process owner tacks the primary metric, and reacts to deviations through application of the control plan?

Hi Chris,

In my experience, the project manager, usually the Black Belt or Master Black Belt performs the tollgate review. The participants include the sponsor, champion, and a key steering committee comprised of key stakeholders identified during the define stage (Process owners, etc).

In terms of Finance sign off, remember that Finance as a department is an artificial construct of corporate organization. Six Sigma DMAIC can be used by a company of any size, including those who may not be organized with a Finance department. If by Finance you mean a checkbook owner function who has to sign off on spend, I would imagine all phases as all phases will require spend. At the very least Define.

I think the project ends when resources are best spent elsewhere. Sometimes that occurs because the project succeeded in the Improve phase as you describe. Practically speaking, some process owners will not accept the end of a project until the process is shown to be under control for some period of time. In that case the project team would still be running throughout control -for example, until whichever SPC techniques are used to clinically demonstrate the process is in control.

Sometimes analyze reveals that all possible improvement items don’t meet the ROI goals of the sponsors.

If you’re looking in the most generic terms, I’d suggest that project cycle time ends when stakeholders like process owners and sponsors agree that the project is over.

My experience is that when the solution implemented meets the objective set forth in the Define phase, then the project is over. Control shifts to the product owner, or manager of the process. If they see a new problem arise as they control, then it would be submitted as a new project.

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