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Stage-Gate Process: All You Need To Know About It

Jul 28, 2022
stage-gate-process

Do you need to execute a project but are unsure of the best approach? That's quite normal.

As a project manager, you should explore different ideas during your project management or product development process. Hence, you need to find a way to assess your ideas and decide which has the highest chance of success.

This is why the Stage-Gate Process is a vital tool for project managers. We will look at the Stage-Gate Process, its different stages, and why it can be a suitable planning method for your project.

What Is a Project Stage-Gate Process?

Also referred to as the Phase Gate Process, the Stage-Gate Process is a comprehensive project management technique. It consists of different stages that will guide you from the beginning to the end of your project.

You and other decision-makers will have to assess each stage of the project to ensure that it satisfies your goals before moving to the next. It should involve the assessment of risks, resources, possible outcomes, and business cases. If done correctly, the Stage-Gate Process is guaranteed to give your project a higher chance of success.

Stage-Gate Methodology

The Stage-Gate methodology focuses on risk analysis and mitigation, and the determination of the most feasible paths. It also seeks to simplify projects by breaking them down into phases. But despite its simplicity, it relies majorly on information-based decision-making.

When using the Stage-Gate method, you will be moving through the different stages of your project linearly. You won't initiate a new phase until the previous one has been completed and assessed.

The Different Phases of the Stage-Gate Process

As we mentioned, the Stage-Gate Process involves breaking down concepts into several stages. The concepts also go through "gates" upon the completion of each phase for reassessment.

In this section, we will break down the different stages that make up the Phase Gate Process.

Idea Generation

Idea generation comes before the traditional Phase Gate process. As its name suggests, this is the stage where you and your team conceive the idea for the project.

It can be approached in several ways depending on your company's setup. However, the most common methods include employee brainstorming, market research, industry conferences, customer feedback, advisory boards, etc.

Since your project's success highly depends on the quality of your ideas, you have to take this phase with the utmost seriousness. It will also be beneficial to research how to generate new ideas.

Scoping

The scoping phase is where the Stage-Gate process fully begins. It involves closely examining a product or project to ascertain its viability.

Some o factors to be considered include cost, duration, demand, competitors, economic conditions, etc. Hence, a SWOT or PETSEL analysis will come in handy.

Build Business Case

In this phase, the team should give solid reasons for executing the project. A business case can be a written document, presentation, or verbal agreement.

Regardless of its form, it should show the decision-makers the benefits the business will get from the project. It should be well-detailed and rigorous as it is the final phase before development begins.

This phase consists of four steps, namely:

  • Product definition and analysis

  • Business case development

  • Project plan development

  • Feasibility review

Development

After the approval of the business case, the development phase begins here. The team works with the information and resources it has gathered up to this point.

This phase consists of several steps, including the design, tests, and sample creation. The prototype should meet the goals set in the previous phase. Also, the team should do some marketing work in the development stage.

Testing and Validation

The testing and validation stage follows the development phase. Your team will assess the prototype and the steps taken to develop it here.

Proper testing is essential to ensure the quality of the product. It will also give the team the confidence to produce the product in a larger quantity. The testing and validation phase includes near, field, and market testing.

Launch

The launch phase is the final step. Your team will launch the finished product here, so it should satisfy all requirements in the Stage-Gate model.

At this point, the company should already have a solid marketing strategy for the product to ensure that it reaches its intended customers. The team should also be prepared to solve any issue that may arise after the launch. Customer satisfaction can be guaranteed this way.

What Happens in the Gates?

We will look at what happens as the idea passes through each gate in this section.

Quality of Execution

Before the work done in each phase is approved to move to the next one, it has to meet some standards. It could be halted if it fails to meet these criteria.

Business Rationale

As a project moves through each gate, the decision-makers must assess the business rationale. This assessment ensures the project is still on course to achieve the company's goals. If the decision-makers discover an issue at this point, it may not be approved to move into the next phase.

Action Plan

This is the final assessment before a project is approved to move into the next stage. The decision-makers need to ensure that there are sufficient resources for the completion of the project. Without adequate resources, the company might have to delay the continuation of the project.

What Happens After a Gate Assessment?

The decision-makers can make five possible decisions after assessing the work done in a gate. These decisions are:

  • Go: This means a project is approved to move into the next phase. However, the work done in the previous gate must meet the company's criteria for this to happen.

  • Kill: This means that a project should come to a halt. The decision-makers make such a decision when a project is inviable.

  • Hold: Sometimes, a company may have to delay a project for some time. The delay may be due to the absence of the necessary resources or other reasons.

  • Recycle: Recycling occurs when the decision-makers aren't entirely happy with the work done in a phase. The team will have to do extra work for the project to move to the next phase.

  • Conditional Go: This decision means a project has conditional approval to move into the next stage. Hence, it must meet certain conditions in subsequent stages.

Who Should Use the Stage-Gate Process?

The Stage-Gate process is ideal for large organizations and complex projects. This project management technique allows teams from different departments and locations to work together on a project efficiently. It also enables project managers to break down complex projects into smaller sections.

Benefits of Using the State Gate Process

Top organizations utilize this project management technique for their projects due to its several benefits. Here are the major advantages of using the Phase Gate process for your project:

Risk Assessment

The Stage-Gate process allows project managers to assess risks throughout a project's lifecycle. You will be able to identify possible problems early and make the necessary decision as the project passes through each gate.

Progress Assessment

When using the Stage-Gate process, you will be able to monitor the progress of your project from start to finish. You will also be able to keep tabs on the performance of your employees and offer guidance when necessary.

Increased Collaboration

Collaboration is essential for the success of any project. However, this can be hard to achieve when the team members are in different locations and departments. The Stage-Gate process can help you boost collaboration regardless of how complex the structure is.

Flexibility

Another benefit of choosing the Stage-Gate process is the amount of flexibility it offers. With it, you will be able to adjust the execution of the project to suit the requirements of your diverse team and business processes.

This project management model also offers scalability. It can be adjusted to suit both small and large projects. Hence, you will find it helpful in various situations.

Resource Management

You have to manage resources efficiently for your business to be profitable, and the Phase Gate process can help you in this aspect. It will help you avoid wasting your resources on inviable projects. You will be able to halt any inviable project early and redirect your resources into something more feasible.

Disadvantages of Using the State Gate Process

All project management techniques have their advantages and disadvantages. Take note of the downsides of the Stage-Gate process before choosing it for your next project.

Limiting

One of the downsides of this project management method is that it leaves little room for creativity. A company may place too much emphasis on resource management and, as a result, stifle the creativity of its employees.

Time-Consuming

Since the team executes different stages of the project linearly, it can become time-consuming. This can be a problem when swift completion is necessary.

Best Practices for the Stage-Gate Process

You can take some steps to ensure you get the best out of the Stage-Gate process. Check out some best practices below:

Detailed Reviews

This process can become a box-ticking exercise if you aren't careful. To avoid such a situation, you should ensure that you carry out comprehensive reviews at all gates.

Consult Your Stakeholders

You need to get the stakeholders involved in the decision-making process if you want to get the best results. Notify them of your progress and challenges so that you can make proper assessments together. This will help you make the best decisions.

Be Customer-Oriented

Your customers should be on your mind from start to finish because the success of your project or product will greatly depend on customer acceptance. As you go through each phase and gate, you should think of the end user's needs. You can learn more about your customers by conducting market research and gathering feedback.

Presenting a Stage-Gate Process

When making a Stage-Gate process presentation, you have to take all the necessary steps to ensure that your audience gets the information you are trying to pass. Follow these steps to learn the best way to present your Stage-Gate process:

Introduction

You need to start your presentation with an engaging introduction. Discuss the idea generation process to give your audience an idea of what the project is all about. After that, you can give them an idea of your approach.

Present the Gates Together

When you want to show your audience the gates, you should show all the gates in one slide. This is a better approach than showing the gates individually.

Discuss the Milestones and Decision Points

Tell your audience about the milestones and decision points encountered during the project.

Explain the Results

Tell your audience about the results achieved at the end of each gate.

Discuss the Outcomes

Describe the outcome of the entire process. Explain the reasons why the project succeeded or failed. You should also provide other relevant information such as customer reception and product performance.

Lessons

Finally, you can end your presentation by mentioning the lessons to be learned from the project. The importance of this is to show your audience what should be emulated and what needs to be improved.

Final Thoughts

The Stage-Gate process helps project managers to identify the viability of projects early and manage their resources early. You just need to go through this article to see if it's the right fit for your business and project.

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. What are the stages of Stage-Gate?

The Stage-Gate process consists of five phases, namely Scoping, Business Case, Development, Testing and Validation, and Launch.

  1. What is the purpose of the Stage-Gate process?

The Stage-Gate process allows project managers to make the best decisions during a project by assessing the risks, resources, business cases, and possible outcomes at different points.

  1. What is the stage-gate process in product development?

The Stage-Gate process is a method of product development to assess the viability of a product during its development.

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