The Stage-Gate process is a project management technique in which a project is broken down into multiple stages with gates, and at the end of each state, the project status is evaluated. At each gate, the project is reviewed to take the project to a new stage or continue with modifications or end the project. When a project has fulfilled all the requirements of a particular stage, it is considered ready to move on to the next stage. If not, the changes and the modifications required are made, and the project moves to the next stage. Else, if there is no place for improvement, the project is stopped to save resources. This methodology is useful for large organizations with large projects, teams, multiple departments, and many stakeholders.
Stage-Gate Process is a methodology project managers use to manage large teams, multiple departments, and numerous stakeholders. In this methodology, the entire project is divided into multiple stages, each having a decision gate at its end. When the project reaches the decision gate of a certain stage, its progress is evaluated. The decision of moving to the next stage is made based on the status of the project, i.e., if it has fulfilled all the requirements of a certain stage, it can go to the next stage, but if it does not fulfill the specified requirements, it stays in the same stage unless the required changes have not been done. But, if there is no place for any changes or modifications in a project at a certain stage, the project is stopped so that the team can move to some other project, and the resources could be saved for future use.
The decision to take the project to the next phase is taken by the project manager and steering committee based on certain factors. These factors include risk analysis, resource availability, market competency, and other production factors.
Stages of Stage-Gate Process
There are five phases of the stage-gate process, but one fundamental phase of every project is the Ideation phase. Let’s first discuss the ideation phase before moving to the phases of the stage-gate process:
Every project, whether successful or failed, goes through the ideation phase of the stage-gate process. In this phase, the project manager, the project team, and other stakeholders call to discuss how to execute a project. The key stakeholders discuss the scope and other financial issues once an idea has been selected to work upon.
In this phase, the team gets more into the project’s viability. They identify the risks associated with the project, the benefit the company will get after completion, the potential competitors, and the possible market position the company will have after the project is completed. After analyzing these factors, the managers and other leaders decide if the project should go on or not.
Building the Business Case
In this phase, a strong business plan is created to support the idea of a project. This phase of stage-gate process usually contains four steps:
- Definition and Analysis of Final Product: Define your project’s deliverables and analyze their usability.
- Creation of Business Case: Define the reason behind building a product, the business benefits associated with it, and ways to achieve those benefits.
- Building the Project Plan: Consider this a project plan within a project plan that defines the tasks, resources, and timelines in a little more detail.
- Testing the Feasibility: Make sure that what you are trying to make is even possible to create or not. If a project is not feasible, it should be stopped unless it becomes feasible.
After you have done the ideation and a strong business case for your project, it is time to execute it. In this phase, the project team starts creating the desired product. The development team starts development, the designing team starts designing, and the copy team starts writing when a project enters this phase.
Testing and Validating
Once the product is launched, it is tested for its quality and durability. During this phase, all the loopholes in the final product are identified and fixed. Professional testers can do the testing at the company (called QA Testers) or the end-users (called beta testing).
When all the stakeholders have signed off on the product, all the quality tests have been performed, and the product is ready to be introduced to the consumers, it is sent to the market for public display. This process is called launching a product.
Once a product has been launched, the project managers and other stakeholders can determine the success of the stage-gate process by comparing their project business estimations with the actual business done by the product.