Go/No Go Decision – What Is It and How Does It Work in Project Management?


Project management is a tricky business, the slightest negligence on your part can set off a chain reaction ultimately ending in failure. To make sure everything is prim and proper through and through, you can use the Go/No Go decision.

Go/ No Go decision determines whether a project is worth all the effort and investment or should it be halted. The criterion for the decision is set by the organization itself and is tailored to the needs of the business. The result of the process determines whether a company will move ahead with the process or not.

For incremental projects, go no go analysis serves as a final checklist that determines whether the project should enter the next step or not. The decision is usually taken at the end of a phase.

Although different companies have different criteria that determine the success of the whole project as well as that of a particular task in the project, these criteria are almost always informal. The checklists change with every project and there are no set standards to gauge performance over a period of time.

Go no go analysis, however, is a formal process with a set checklist. The checklist is slightly altered for every next project, but the major points remain the same. This checklist is followed throughout the organization and is a part of the decision-making process.

In the proceeding sections, we provide an overview of go no go decisions, factors that determine whether the decision-making process is employed, go-no-go decision-making exercise for project initiation, and best practices for the decision-making process.

Checklist For Go/No Go Decisions:

Rather than starting a new one for every next project, companies usually go for a predetermined checklist based on past experiences, best practices, and user reviews. You can also customize the checklist for every new project to make sure it answers all the questions related to that specific project.

The checklist is not the decision-maker itself; it is only there to steer you in the right direction. All the boxes in the checklist do not have to be tick marked for it to be a go decision. It only helps make sure that there are no gaps glaring you in the eyes and that everything is proceeding as planned.

The one making the decision has to factor in other variables too to make sure all aspects of the project are carefully considered, and all problems are addressed.

Keep in mind that a no-go decision does not imply the failure of a project but is an opportunity for improvement. If the issue is resolved, the project is resumed and the end products are delivered successfully (even if the delivery is delayed), then that is a victory for the team.

In this process, eliminating risks and issues takes the front seat and following deadlines is of secondary importance. Delivering value to the users is of prime importance, everything else takes a backseat.

The go no go decision makes sure that everything is perfect and ready for the next step.

Determining Factors for The Decision-Making Process:


How do you realize if your project needs a go/no go analysis? Well, here are some factors that can help you determine if your project needs the analysis or not:

  • Type of projects: The type of projects you undertake is a prime factor that determines whether the decision-making process is a viable solution for your team or not. If the project includes incremental phases and needs forecasting, then the analysis might help you make the right decisions for your business. Agile projects, for example, sometimes involve a go no go checklist that helps teams make sure that they are heading in the right direction.
  • Product type: Also plays a significant role in determining the implementation of the decision-making process in a project. If the development of the product involves different steps, then with a checklist, you can ask for the approval of the user at the end of every step and before the start of the next phase.
  • Project lifecycle: Project lifecycle is a project timeline from start till the end. A project lifecycle usually has different phases. With go no go decisions, one can make sure whether every step is getting completed as it should or if the process needs changes.
  • Rules and Regulations: The rules and regulations of your company are also to be taken into consideration when determining if your project needs such a decision-making process. The constraints of the corporation can also play a part when making that decision.

The factors listed above play a huge role in how you proceed with the processes in your company. Whether you employ the use of go no go decisions ultimately depends on these factors, as well as your own preference for the project.

Go/No Go Decision Making for Project Initiation:

Initiating a new project requires lots of careful deliberation and calculations. Every step of the process can make or break the game for you, so you must be vigilant at all times. Go no go decisions are an efficient way of finding out if a project is worth all the trouble or if you should just leave it.

Here is a go no go checklist of your own that will help you make a decision for whether you should uptake a project or not:

  1. Justification: What is your justification for initiating the project? Certain factors are of core importance when determining if the project should be initiated or not. For example, you can conduct a financial analysis to calculate if the project will be beneficial for you or not. If the costs override the profits, then the project is simply not worth it and vice versa.
  2. Feasibility: The project you want to undertake, is it doable? Does your company have enough resources, finances, tools, etc. to implement the project plan and take it to the end? Do you have what it takes for the proper execution of the project? If yes, then you should move ahead to the next point in the checklist otherwise the project is definitely a no-go.
  3. Find the right solution: once you have established that the project is feasible and has a proper justification, the next step would be to find the right solution, By right solution, we mean to identify the resources required for the project, the finances needed and everything else that will help with the kick-off. Make sure you have everything you need along with the team that will help you accomplish your goals.
  4. Identify alternatives: At the start of this post, we said project management is a tricky business, and that is because it involves various risks at every step of the way. You have to be ever ready to encounter problems and deal with them. Any issue in the process should not throw you off track. You have to be on your toes the entire team to make sure the process runs smoothly. And to do so, you have to have alternative solutions for every step in the process and every possible issue that may hinder your progress. Also, having options, in general, gives you the freedom to select the most appropriate one for your business.
  5. Choose the right alternative: Now that you have a bunch of solutions for your project, you can carefully analyze which one will suit your project best. You can check each solution for its ability to help you with the project requirements and then choose the one that fits best.

When you successfully check all the checklist boxes, you will find yourself ready for the project initiation. At every step of the decision-making process, ask yourself and your team members if the step is possible, if it is then move ahead, otherwise halt the process and look for better solutions.

Moving on to the best practices when using go-no-go analysis for your business.

Best Practices for Go No Go Process:

Although you might have tons of tracking and checking tools, you will ultimately make the decisions yourself. The problem is that you have negligible room for error, so every decision of yours has to be near-perfect, especially if you are in a senior position.

While working with go no go decisions, you can employ the following practices to make sure you are on the right track:

  • Don’t lose sight of your goals: Having a clear understanding of what your project demands and the end-term goals can strongly influence how you go about things. You have to have the big picture in mind at all times. Although every step takes you closer to the end, you have to make sure that it does not shackle you in any way, and you do not end up spending all your resources on that very step. That is exactly why having your goals in sight helps you all along the way.
  • Trust the process: Go-no decisions involve standard procedures that are followed throughout the organization, but that does not rule out the possibility that some employees might not agree with the process. Also, the process might be subjected to manipulation at the hands of certain employees. To eliminate this possibility, make sure that every individual on your team and all the company employees understand that the process is used for their ease and will ultimately benefit them.
  • Do not rely on numbers only: Data, facts, and figures are important but should not be the deciding factors for a project. Data guides your decision; it is not supposed to produce decisions. Use the data to make smarter, more efficient solutions. Also, factor in emotions and passions. The emotional side of things is as important as the other side. So, do not disregard your employees’ thoughts, feelings, emotions, and yourself.
  • Encourage communication and collaboration: Project success is directly related to how communicative a team is. The more a team communicates, the better will be the results. If in opposition, a team suffers from a lack of communication or lapses in interaction, then it might have to face devastating consequences. Good communication is the hallmark of good working, so encourage your employees.

These were some tips that will help you in the decision-making process.

It’s A Wrap!

This is all from us today on go no go decisions. What is your opinion about the process? Is there anything else you want to know about it? If yes, write to us at fwilson@ntaskmanager.com. We will get back to you as soon as we can!

Till next time, Adios!

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