Stage-Gate frameworks are scalable, with different versions to handle different types of projects. The full-fledged Stage-Gate model in Figure 7.1-1 is designed for larger, higher-risk new product projects with much at stake and many unknowns. But many projects are much smaller than this. They include product modifications, extensions, improvements, simple sales requests, and single-customer projects. Forcing such smaller projects through the full five-stage model only creates frustration, unneeded work, and the impression of added bureaucracy, a sure way to cause people to circumvent an otherwise excellent framework.
When the project risk is low, use an abbreviated version of Stage-Gate: the three-stage Stage-Gate Express framework in Figure 7.1-6.20 Here's how the three-stage version works:
• Stages 1 and 2 in Figure 7.1-1 are combined into a single "homework" stage. The usual Stage 1 activities are then merged with Stage 2 tasks. In lower-risk projects, often much of the needed information is readily available, and so the work effort required for the homework phase in Stage-Gate Express is considerably less than in the full five-stage process.
• Stage 3 (Development) is merged with Stage 4 (Testing and Validation) in Figure 7.1-1. The project team reviews the activities normally undertaken in Stages 3 and 4 and decides which are relevant to the smaller project and which should be omitted or abbreviated.
• Because stages are combined, Gates 2 and 4 are eliminated (often the project team conducts a "self-check" or "self-managed gate" prior to moving ahead).
The result is a fast-track process suitable to facilitate product development for low-risk projects.
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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.