The Stage Gate Process
The stage gate process is a project management technique in which the project is broken down into distinct stages. These stages are separated by decision points, or gates. At each gate, continuation is decided based on current data including risk analysis and availability of necessary resources.
Breaking down a project into stages helps bring structure to complex processes and allows early input from all stakeholders. Input from all members helps to establish a cohesive team where members feel accountable for the project’s success. It allows new team members to quickly get up to speed. It also identifies project risks and generates a risk mitigation plan early on.
An effective process filters out misaligned projects, ensuring the company has proper resources and funding to execute a successful project. The process works in parallel with portfolio planning and allows companies to select the “best” projects based on established goals and criteria.
The approach defines deliverables from day 1, helping to ensure successful project completion. Scope, risks, estimated schedule and costs are all established early on. This allows the entire team to identify and understand deadlines and milestones (“gates”), and what is required at each stage in order to move the project forward.
Each phase needs senior leadership team approval before it can proceed to the next gate. This provides a pause at each stage allowing the team to reevaluate. It also provides quality control, as the project cannot move forward until all criteria are met and the gate is approved.
Monthly steering committee, i.e. senior or executive level management reviews are required – this helps ensure that the project is on track and it raises any potential new risks that need to be assessed.