OPG Project Model

The scope of the OPG Project model includes all project steering and management activities, starting with the formalization of an initial idea into a project initiative. The process ends with a closing process, after the delivery of all project results. The project activities are grouped in consecutive project phases: Initiation, Planning, Execution and Closing. The control of the project includes six review and decision points, called Gates (G), for the start and end of each project phase. At each Gate the outcome from the preceding project phase is used to update of the Business Case. A decision to continue or to terminate the project is taken at each gate. All Gates, G0-G5, are mandatory except G3. G3 Gates are used when appropriate in the Execution Phase.

Roles and responsibilities

Below are short descriptions of the roles needed during a project, and of the individual phases that makes up the project model.

Sponsor (sometimes called Project Owner)
The Sponsor of a program or an individual project is the owner of that program or project. The Sponsor has the authority to handle financing. The Sponsor takes all Gate-decisions and makes decisions on change requests that will impact upon the Business Case.
Steering Committee (SC)
Projects and programs will usually have a Steering Committee (SC) with the purpose of handling directives, key stakeholder interests and other issues. The SC has the mandate to decide whether to continue or to terminate the project.

Project Manager (PM)
The Project Manager (PM) is responsible for achieving the specified project objectives and producing the agreed deliverables (project products, services or results) by utilizing agreed resources and budgets. The details and limitations of and the Project Manager’s mandate and responsibilitites are defined in the Project Charter.
Benefit Owner(s)
The Benefit Owner is usually the same person as the Sponsor, but there can be several different owners depending on where in the organization the benefits will be realized. The Benefit Owner must sign-off the identified benefits in the Business Case.

Resource Manger(s) (RM)
The Resource Manager (RM) is the Line Manager for human resources in the project.
The RM is responsible for verifying that resources are available to meet the project’s needs and for facilitating the project or program by allocating resources of appropriate quantity and skill, in accordance with the agreed plan.
Receiver(s) of Deliverables
The Receiver of Deliverables will take over responsibility for the deliverables, at no later than Gate 4 (G4).

Important project governance documents

The governance process requires a number of steering documents. Templates for all documents must be supplied to all projects and a standard must apply to all projects. Otherwise it will be difficult to compare and manage the projects in the portfolio.

  • Business Case. The purpose of the Business case is to justify the required investment. The Business Case will be on a high level at Gate 0 (G0) with gross estimates of the costs of the project and of the potential benefits. As the project progresses the Business Case must be continuously updated to show the benefits, investment (project), and costs of the project’s life-cycle and results. Impacts on the Business Case may also come from changes in the environment, from changed needs within the organization or from customers.
  • Project Charter. The Project Charter is the formal document that recognizes that the project is in existence and gives a defined mandate to the Project Manager for starting the project after G1. The authority and responsibilities of the Project Manager and the Sponsor(s) must be clearly defined. The Project Charter is a very comprehensive document outlining, on a high level, what the project will do and how it will be done.
  • Project Management Plan. The Project Management Plan shows how the project will be managed. Included in this document are key decisions for managing change and baselines. Detailed plans for scope, time, cost, resource allocation, schedule, risks, and the results to be delivered will also be included.
  • Project Status Report. The purpose of the Status Report is to provide the Sponsor, Steering Committee and other stakeholders with relevant information about the project status. The distribution list, frequency and format of the Project Status Report are defined in the Communication Plan (in the Project Management Plan)
  • Project Change Request (PCR). The purpose of the Project Change Request is to record a proposed change, together with an analysis of its impacts and the resulting decisions.
  • Delivery Acceptance Report. Each physical delivery from the project must be verified and formally accepted by the identified receiver(s). The formal acceptance is documented in the Delivery Acceptance Report
  • Phase Review Report. Each of the project phases ends with a verification of the scope of the phase. The verification takes the form of formal checks of the correctness and quality of all deliverables. The results are documented in the Phase Review Report. The report is used by the Sponsor as acceptance of the phase results.  The report for the Execution phase, at G4, will be more extensive, as it will cover the bulk of the project results.
  • Final Report . The purpose of the Final Report is to collect and present information for improvement of the organization and its work processes. This document includes a brief project description, a measurement of project performance against baselines, and collected experience records of value for targeted readers of the Final Report. According to the experiences gained during the project, suggested changes to the organization can be included, for instance to governing rules and to management routines.

Project Initiative

Before the Initiation

Here, the decision is taken to formalize a business idea into a project initiative. An initial rough level Business Case is the basis for the decision. Documents required for this decision:

  • Project initiative
  • Business Case v0
  • Other supporting documents, for example a pre-study statement of work.

The decision process is described in the portfolio model.


Purpose: A business idea is further explored and a project is defined and initiated. There are two main objectives: to establish a better position for deciding if the project should be started, and to delegate the project to the Project Manager.

During the initiation phase the following tasks are usually performed:

  • Establishment of project objectives – what is to be achieved
  • Consideration of financial, resource and schedule constraints
  • Financial evaluation
  • Initial stakeholder analysis
  • Consideration of functional requirements and scope on a high level
  • Definition of success factors and acceptance criteria
  • Initial risk assessment - Is the project possible?.
  • Establishment of Steering Committee
  • Identification and appointment of a project manager
  • Rough planning for the planning phase

Phase deliverables:

  • Project Charter
  • Stakeholder Register
  • Business Case, updated with new estimates
  • Phase Review Report

Decide to start the planning phase

The results from the Initiation Phase, primarily the Business Case and Project Charter, are considered when taking the G1-decision. The decision can be one of the following:

  • Continue with Project Planning Phase
  • Re-submit for further analysis, if new data is needed
  • Terminate the project
  • Put the project on hold

The decision is taken by the Sponsor in conjunction with the steering committee. The decision to continue implies that organizational resources may be used for the planning phase.

Project Management Plan

Purpose: The project idea is elaborated into plans for project management and project deliverables. The planning should be sufficient to manage the project execution within defined boundaries and with acceptable risk margins for the Business Case.

The Project Charter and the Stakeholder Analysis together with the Statement of Work and other supporting documents are inputs when starting the planning. The planning is usually performed with a small group of key team members.

The planning is done to a level appropriate to the project and according to how soon it will be possible to start the execution phase. The level depends both on the project and on the development method to be used. Agile planning is done for each iteration. This also applies to complex and long projects, where rolling wave planning is performed. 

Typical tasks in the planning phase are listed below:

  1. The Project Manager must start acquiring resources to manage the planning phase.
  2. Start with a Kick Off
  3. Revisit the stakeholder analysis and perform further analysis if needed
  4. Verify the requirements and elaborate where necessary.
  5. Define project scope and develop the WBS (start the work during the Kick Off)
  6. Define the schedule, resource plan and budget
  7. Perform risk planning 
  8. Develop the communication plan
  9. Define project organization and develop a responsibility assignment matrix
  10. Develop the Change Management Plan
  11. Define and get agreement on project baselines
  12. Develop the Project Management Plan

The deliverables from the planning phase are the Project Management Plan and an updated Business Case.

Gate 2: Decision to start the project execution

The decision for G2 is  based on the Project Management Plan and the updated Business Case version 2, from the Planning Phase.

The decision can be either of the following

  • Continue with Project Execution Phase
  • Re-submit for further analysis, if new data is needed.
  • Terminate the project.
  • Put the project on hold.

The decision is taken by the Sponsor in conjunction with the Steering Committee. The decision to continue also implies that organizational resources may be used for the execution phase.

Project Execution Phase

Purpose: The earlier plans for producing the business solution are executed, according to the detailed scope and requirements.

Detailed plans and a defined detailed scope must exist before the start of this phase or at the start of each sub-phase. For later sub-phases it is recommended that only a rough (though sufficient, considering project risk) planning is made for the total. If agile development is used, each iteration may be regarded as a sub-phase.

Gate 3: one or more during the project execution phase

One or more predefined project reviews and decision points shall be fixed for larger projects, if they are divided into different execution phases.  These execution phases will be end with a Gate 3 decision, where the validity of the Business Case is reviewed.

A decision is made by the Sponsor and can result in one of the following:

  • The project may continue as is
  • A PCR, a corrective action or a preventive action is needed. This should be submitted to the Change Management Process in the project for analysis and decision.
  • The project should be terminated

Project Final Report

Gate 4: Decision to start the closing phase

The sponsor decides whether the results delivered by the project should be accepted as complete. This decision is based on the Delivery Acceptance Reports.

At the time of this decision an updated Business Case should be reviewed. The actual decision can result in one of the following:

  • The program will move into the Project Closing Phase
  • A PCR or a corrective action is needed. This should be submitted to the Change Management Process in the project for analysis and decision

Close the Project

Purpose: Conclusions and summary of the project are communicated to project management stakeholders.

All projects must be closed in a formal way. A correct closure is beneficial to all involved parties including team members, stakeholders, and the project manager. To be able to perform this last phase, it must be planned in the WBS, and resources, time and costs must be reserved.

The closing is documented in the final report.

Gate 5: Decision to close the project

The decision about acceptance of the Final Report for the project is taken.

The Sponsor together with the Steering Committee will, based on the Final Report and Final Business Case, take the Gate 5-decision. The result can be either of the following:

  • Close the project
  • Re-submit for further analysis, if new data is needed

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