Most project governance structures will have a methodology for assessing the overall RAG status of a project. It will typically assess status against resourcing, costs, benefits and, most importantly, milestones. It is typically delivery against plan that is the key driver of RAG status.
Most projects will go Red or Amber at some stage in the life cycle and it is appropriate to use the rules and processes set out in project governance to derive that status. Having key milestones that are late drive a Red RAG status ensures the problem gets the necessary attention from the steering committee or project board and can be a useful ally for the project manager in resolving issues promptly.
But as a project nears completion, is this a true reflection of of the delivery status of the project? Few, if any, projects delivery absolutely everything they plan to with all the i’s dotted and t’s crossed. A key part of project close down is deciding how and by who and residual items will be delivered. But all milestones will eventually link in to the final top level, go-live, milestone. In a pure project plan RAG status of milestones, these items would be Red, driving the final top level milestone Red, and imply a Red status for the project.
However, no steering committee or project board is going to be happy with a project going live with a Red status. Nor does it reflect the reality of delivery.
In the closing stages of a project it is much better to assess the project status from an overall delivery confidence level. This must be supported by the underlying milestone status with only relatively minor areas of delivery reporting Red. The project status should reflect the confidence in the ability of the project to go live. Whether that is a new system being switched on, a new product being launched, or a major re-organisation taking place, it is about the core delivery of the project. And it is the level of confidence in that core delivery that should drive the project RAG status in the closing stages.