More on Stage Gate Process as an Integrating Function

Integration implies coming together, both in the project planning and implementation process. This means not only to bring the team together with stakeholders, but bringing in the final arbiter, the final "integrator," the customer. How this is done varies with companies and industries, but in most successful companies you are going to find a defined process, with frequent interaction with the customer as a part of the decision to proceed to the following stage or phase of the project.

The process is a system of disciplined stages and control points which provide the basis for an integrated project review and go or no go decisions. Key decision points are established at the end of each stage or phase, with gate or design reviews scheduled to monitor progress and decide whether to proceed. This system gives the program manager a way of integrating cost, schedule, quality, product, and customer data at the end of each phase using earned value. This process allows management to avoid continuing unnecessary or low-performing projects at each stage. Moving to the next stage is approved by some kind of top management, program committee or approval council.

Figure 6.6 shows a typical product development process with five stages and preliminary, critical, and final design reviews at periodic milestones at the phase, system, and task levels.

Figure 6.6 Design reviews as decision points.

Gate decisions in this process are based on an integrated look at project progress in terms of earned value, risk management, and customer satisfaction. Earned value reviews schedule and cost variance separately. Schedule variance reviews how well the project is performing against the baseline plan; cost variance reviews how well the actual cost matches with the work performed.

Risk enters the picture as risk events are anticipated and contingency plans are prepared for all major risks. The integration of risk contingencies with scheduled work is the key. This involves the development of a risk matrix as follows and then the insertion of contingency tasks into the schedule as baseline activity.

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Project Management Made Easy

Project Management Made Easy

What you need to know about… Project Management Made Easy! Project management consists of more than just a large building project and can encompass small projects as well. No matter what the size of your project, you need to have some sort of project management. How you manage your project has everything to do with its outcome.

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