PMO and the Tollgate Process


By Bob Prieto


In enterprise-wide roles the PMO (Project Management Office or Program Management Office) will have responsibility for management and implementation of a tollgate or stage gate process for program and project approval. The purpose of this process is to ensure that investment decisions are made on a sound basis, that project portfolios have been rationalized and optimized, and that solid baseline foundations exist.

This paper we will take a closer look at the tollgate process and its oversight by the PMO.

Tollgates and Stage Gates

Tollgates or stage gates represent approval points before proceeding to the next stage of program or project development. The PMO will have defined standards and requirements to have been met before approval can be gained to proceed to the next stage and review of the readiness of each project at the “gate” ensures that the basis for additional capital commitments exists.

The various “gate” reviews are formal processes with responsibilities, accountabilities and authorities well defined. The impact of proceeding through the “gate” must be understood across the organization. In simplest terms the PMO is the gatekeeper.

Organizational terminology and “gate” requirements will vary but in general terms include:

  • Project or concept identification
  • Project selection or pre-feasibility
  • Project definition or feasibility
  • Implementation

A well implemented tollgate process has the opportunity to significantly influence program and project success. The best opportunities to influence project outcomes are the earliest possible stages. Getting the first steps right is key to controlling the impactful cost of change at later stages. Decision processes at each gate must be robust.

It is at each stage gate that the program’s risk register is built and further refined. The stage gate process drives risk management front and center in the overall program definition process.


To read entire paper (click here)

About the Author 

flag-usabob prietoBob Prieto 

Senior Vice President


Bob Prieto is a senior vice president of Fluor, one of the largest, publicly traded engineering and construction companies in the world. He is responsible for strategy for the firm’s Industrial & Infrastructure group which focuses on the development and delivery of large, complex projects worldwide. The group encompasses three major business lines including Infrastructure, with an emphasis on Public Private Partnerships; Mining; and Manufacturing and Life Sciences. Bob consults with owner’s of large engineering & construction capital construction programs across all market sectors in the development of programmatic delivery strategies encompassing planning, engineering, procurement, construction and financing. He is author of “Strategic Program Management” and “The Giga Factor: Program Management in the Engineering and Construction Industry” published by the Construction Management Association of America (CMAA) and “Topics in Strategic Program Management” as well as over 400 other papers and presentations.

Bob is a member of the ASCE Industry Leaders Council, National Academy of Construction and a Fellow of the Construction Management Association of America. Bob served until 2006 as one of three U.S. presidential appointees to the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Business Advisory Council (ABAC), working with U.S. and Asia-Pacific business leaders to shape the framework for trade and economic growth and had previously served as both as Chairman of the Engineering and Construction Governors of the World Economic Forum and co-chair of the infrastructure task force formed after September 11th by the New York City Chamber of Commerce.

Previously, he established a 20-year record of building and sustaining global revenue and earnings growth as Chairman at Parsons Brinckerhoff (PB), one of the world’s leading engineering companies.  Bob Prieto can be contacted at [email protected].