The key to a good Stage-Gate process is having an effective gate review process.
Gate Reviews are held at the end of each phase, the purpose of which is as follows:
Gate reviews are therefore a quality control mechanism for the projects, a method of risk control through the project, of allocating priorities to projects and in the limit, of stopping projects that look likely to be unsuccessful.
There is usually a panel of Gatekeepers
Because saying 'Go' to a project at a Gate implies a promise to the project manager that the company will provide the resources necessary, the Gate Panel should comprise the relevant resource owners, at a senior enough level to:
This may vary depending on the gate and the size of the project, but consistency of Gatekeepers is usually good.
Stopping a project if it is failing to meet criteria, in spite of every ones best efforts is the right thing to do, as it means that money and resources can be released for something more beneficial.
Types of Project
Not all projects are the same.
Classic Stage-Gate theory considers all projects to be 'Mortal', i.e. they can be killed if they are not performing. well.
However in practice this is not always the case. Some projects are 'Immortal', i.e. they cannot be killed. This might be because the project is an 'external' one, rather than 'internal, i.e. it has been commissioned by a client, or it might be because new regulations demand that it must be done, or top management has mandated that it must be done. In these cases, gates become quality control points.
Types of Gate
Also within any project there may be different types of gate
Approval Gates (Hard or Rigid Gate)
These are spending gates, and as such are usually Hard or Rigid Gates
The Project Manager is asking management (or the customer) for money/resources to be able to proceed, so has to convince the Gate Panel that you should go ahead
These are confirmation gates, confirming that project is on track, and so can be Soft or Flexible Gates, as resources (money & people) are already approved to original budget
However, if performance is poor, the project is able to be killed, and if it needs more budget the gate becomes a spending gate
This is a Hand-Over Gate, and usually a Hard or Rigid Gate. The Project Manager is asking management (or the customer) for the project to be accepted for hand-over, e.g. start of manufacturing, start of sales, or customer acceptance. Thus he has to convince the Gate Panel that it should be accepted
We are happy to discuss gate reviews with you in more depth and we can offer training and consultancy to help you to improve your gate reviews. Just contact us.
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