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Why RAGS are useless without a road to green

Your project/programme highlight reports may include Red, Amber, Green (RAG) ratings. But without a RAGS road to green they won't deliver the business benefits you seek.

Most project and programme highlight reports include one or more Red, Amber, Green (RAG) ratings.

These can signify the health of the project and also report on key aspects of the project, e.g. How committed are the stakeholders, or is the team motivated and performing?

These ‘sub-RAGS’ are a good way of ensuring that key aspects of the project are being managed and controlled.

The Road to Green

However, when reviewing projects and programmes we often see that there are RAG reports at the overall project level and sometimes at a more detailed level.

There are, of course, those organisations where a red RAG is unacceptable, so red RAGS are rarely reported.

This completely negates the use of a RAG. The whole purpose of a RAG is to give an honest and objective assessment of your project and programme.

If it is red by your objective assessment, then this needs to be reported honestly and a plan of action put in place to bring the project or programme back on track.

RAG reporting is a very useful tool in giving stakeholders an assessment of the value of a project or programme.

However, the real value is when you report an honest RAG rating and then, if it is amber or red, you accompany this rating with a ‘Road to Green’.

This is, in my opinion, the real benefit of RAG reporting. It is relatively easy to report using RAGs but it can be more difficult to accompany this with a ‘Road to Green’ plan.

The Road to Green is the actions that need to be taken to bring the project back on track, assuming that it is recoverable.

Also, when the
project board or steering committee receive a RED RAG rating on a project or
programme, they can question the Road to Green plan and, at the next project
board or steering group, they can check on the Road to Green progress.

So next time you
use RAG reporting, which is a simple and very effective governance tool, ensure
that you accompany any non-green RAGS with the Road to Green plan which will
not only reassure your stakeholders that you have a plan but also help ensure
you deliver your project outcomes.


The RAG status is a very useful communication aide for the project manager and the stakeholders. Don’t just report on the RAG but accompany it with the road to green which is the real value in RAG reporting.

We help our clients improve their project delivery. We do this in a number of ways including training, knowledge transfer, developing fit for purpose processes and implementing our PPM tool, PM3.

About the author

The author - David Walton

David Walton - I am David Walton, Programme, Project and Portfolio Management specialist and director of Bestoutcome here in the UK. We make the PMO tools PM3, PM3time and PM3NHS, the only PMO tools designed by practitioners for practitioners.

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