Phase Gate Process

The separating of a project’s tasks into phases interspersed by reviews has been around for donkey’s years, which is about right given that they can live for 50 or 60 years, as a phased approach was used in the Apollo space programme in the 1960’s

In fact before then a phased process was used for building chemical plants in the 1950’s and in 1958, the American Association of Cost Engineers created four standard cost estimate type classifications to match these development and approval phases.

The idea of splitting projects into phases took hold and spread until it became the standard way of organising projects across many fields of endeavour. Both the early examples were major engineering projects and so the project focus was on the engineering aspects.

However the Stage-Gate® process introduced by Bob Cooper in 1986 suggested when the project was the development of a new product, it made sense to include marketing activities as well as engineering ones.

Around the same time the idea of Concurrent or Simultaneous Engineering, whereby manufacturing considerations were included in the design phase, was beginning to take hold, following Japanese practice as published by Imai, Nonaka and Takeuchi.

Nowadays, the terms ‘Stage-Gate’ and ‘Phase-Gate’ are often used synonymously, or sometimes ‘Phase-Gate’ may be used as a more generic term rather than the trademarked term ‘Stage-Gate’. Some people think that it is a bureaucratic process that is only suitable for larger companies but nowadays the emphasis is on lightweight flexible processes, that are tailored to each companies needs, making it a realistic, even essential, process for SME’s to have in their armoury.

Stage-Gate® is a registered trademark of Stage-Gate Inc.

For further information, please contact us, and we will do our best to help.