The stage/ gate process as shown in the “Stage/Gate Process Steps” figure and described in chapter 12 contains project reviews that determine if and how a project continues to obtain funding and resources. Giving high-quality feedback during these review sessions is critical to make sure the project ends up with the right support. Addressing the right questions is covered in the gate review checklists of chapter 12. In addition, there are general characteristics of successful projects that the governance team needs to consider in providing feedback and direction. The governing team also needs a vehicle by which to give clear and helpful feedback. These two points are now addressed.
When managing stage gate projects it is important that the team and the overseeing management group understand important characteristics of successful projects. In particular, for Horizon Two projects done in large corporations there are seven characteristics that are important to review at each of the gate reviews. These are as follows:
Results Driven: It is the results that are being achieved that have to be evaluated. Although the way in which they are obtained is important, the means takes a backseat to obtaining commercially valuable results.
Focused on Specific Objectives: The business objectives of the projects need to be clear and well defined. When project teams reevaluate their objectives it is important that the new ones are also specific and measurable. Diffusion of objectives needs to be guarded against.
Platform Approach: When Corporation sponsored development projects are undertaken, one of the objectives needs to be development of a technology platform that can be utilized by various business units or product lines. Such leverage is critical to make expenditures of Corporate level resources productive.
Cross-Functional Teams: The project teams have both informal and formal connections. When looking at the entire network supporting project work it’s important that all stakeholder functions are represented.
Core & Advisory Groups: The size of the project team core group works best when it is small. This comes back to having very specific objectives. The teams may tap resources outside their core group to speed project work, but the actual core group needs to be small enough that excellent communications are assured. With respect to the advisory group it’s important that all stakeholder functions are represented so that nothing is missed by the project team. Note that this comment replies to the advisory group not the governing group.
Aim at High Economic Value Adding Businesses and Product Lines: During project selection, projects should have been picked with specific objectives aimed at supporting businesses and product lines with high economic value adding positions. During the project work, as product project objectives need to be reevaluated, the new objectives need to be tested to ensure the project remains focused on high economic value adding areas.
Managed Using Best Practices: Depending upon if the project is Horizon One, Two, or Three, and if it is predominantly technical or business development, will determine whether stage/gate or agile/lean management process will yield the better results. Again, as project work ebbs and flows, and objectives become reevaluated, the best management process also need to be revisited. The management practice that will ensure the best probability of success has to be utilized.