The Ultimate Guide To the Phase Gate Process

Project managers have a number of processes and techniques they can use to ensure continued project viability and success. One such technique is called the phase gate process. 

The PMBOK Guide 6th edition defines the phase gate process as “a review at the end of a phase in which a decision is made to continue to the next phase, to continue with modification, or to end a project or program.” The phase gate approach in project management presents a number of advantages and disadvantages, as well as a distinct contrast to other project management approaches.

In this guide to the phase gate process, we’ll unpack the stages and processes associated with it and offer guidance on how and if you can implement this approach into your next big project. 

What is phase gate?

The phase gate process is a technique that is used to guide a project from conception to launch. It requires a review of each project stage before moving on to the next. In the phase gate review process, specific criteria must be met in order to determine the success of a phase and the ongoing viability of a project. A decision will then be made by the project manager to either move forward, make modifications before advancing, or end the project. 

But why is the phase gate process necessary for efficient project management?

By now, you’ll know that things can change fast in project management and product development — depending on the environment you’re working in. When developing a product, factors like a fast-evolving marketplace, customer needs, and availability of resources can affect a project’s trajectory. In order to manage an organization’s often scarce resources, it is valuable to assess the quality of a project and its efforts before barreling to the next phase.

If a team is working on a project that may become unviable due to a number of factors, it is best to isolate these conditions in the gate phase in order to determine the next steps.

What is the phase gate methodology?

Phase gate methodology seeks to head off risks, determine the most viable programs to pursue, and manage projects in phases, rather than in cycles or all at once. The phase gate methodology is also committed to limiting project error and increasing information-based decision-making.

What steps are involved in the phase gate process?

In the phase gate process, each stage is completed and then followed by a checkpoint — the “gate.” The name and number of the phases can vary depending on the project or sector. For our understanding of the topic, we can call these phases “idea,” “scoping,” “business case,” “development,” and “launch.”

Idea: The idea phase is where brainstorming activities take place. This is when you investigate the market and flesh out ideas that could potentially turn into a fully-formed project. You may seek input from customers and clients in this phase.  Scoping: In the scoping phase, a team will delve a little deeper into a project’s viability. They may even perform a SWOT analysis to identify the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats associated with the project.  Business case: In this stage of the phase gate process, it is necessary to build a strong business case for the project. A feasibility study may be performed here. A detailed project

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