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Become the Maestro of the Gated Process: The Nine Rules of Engagement

Rules 7-9 – Establish resource commitments, play an advisory role, gain agreement

Become the Maestro of the Gated Process: The Nine Rules of Engagement

In my part one and two of this three-part blog series, “The Nine Rules of Engagement,” I share a foundation for establishing guidelines for members of the gated process—with the process manager as the maestro.

I make the analogy that process managers are like a maestro of music. Like a music conductor, a process manager is responsible for defining and establishing a process and discipline and ensuring adherence to drive toward a business outcome. For process managers, the goal is to help teams pick and deliver the best and most innovative projects, and for the maestro, it’s to help a symphony perform a beautiful concert. Both roles deal with complexities along the way, but it’s their job to establish process and order to deliver a planned outcome.

In this blog, I share the final rules of engagement 7-9.

Read the complete blog series, Become the Maestro of the Gated Process: The Nine Rules of Engagement:

The Nine Rules of Engagement: Rules 7-9. 

Rule 7: Ensure resource commitments are kept.

The process manager earns his paycheck by ensuring that the project teams come to the gate meeting with a plan and resources identified for the next stage of work. The data provided by the project team is then used by the gatekeepers to assign resources to projects and to force rank projects within the portfolio.

To do this well, it is important that gatekeepers understand the impact approving a team’s project plan will have on the overall resources in the organization. Understanding resource availability will allow gatekeepers to make trade-off decisions and take appropriate action to avoid project delays.  This balancing of the portfolio will ensure that maximum value is derived from the investment made by management in innovation and technology. It starts with the process manager—establishing process and communicating expectations so prioritization and resource allocation can run smoothly.

Once resource commitments are made, they must be kept. If not, the process will lose all credence.

Rule 8: Process managers are advisers and coaches.

It’s critical that process managers help project leaders cut through organizational bureaucracy so that each stage can be completed in a timely fashion. Because process mangers do not have the authority to remove road blocks and other hurdles such as funding or resource commitments, they should serve as the link between the teams and the gatekeepers playing mediator and advisory role. Process managers must also be wary of gatekeepers who want to micromanage the project or the team. Instead, be flexible. Allow the team to go to the gatekeepers for assistance and let them give it as needed, but advise that they stay out of the day-to-day activities, as it could be viewed as more of a hindrance than a help. Trust that your teams and project leaders will have the good sense to know when they need to get you involved.

Rule 9: Gain agreement of the rules of engagement.

Display the rules prominently on the wall in the room where you most commonly hold your gate meetings.  Ensure that both the gatekeepers and the project teams agree to these rules and follow them. Use “The Nine Rules of Engagement” to set the expectations of the teams and to keep gatekeepers in check

Put foundational rules in place to take control of gate meetings. These rules need to be known to all, both teams and gatekeepers, with agreement that everyone will abide by them.

Don’t forget, you are a maestro of the gated process. Take control and keep the team working together in harmony. With these nine rules in play, you and your teams can deliver the projects the business needs and customers want.

I’d like to hear from you. What do you think of the nine rules outlined in this blog series? Do they help? Share by leaving a comment below.

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Barry Novotny
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Barry Novotny is a Managing Consultant for the Stage-Gate International USA’s Value Center, specializing in enterprise solutions to drive business value through innovation management and new product development. Barry’s experience spans over 20 years within the Manufacturing environment where he utilized Stage-Gate processes to manage new product, new process and technology development innovation projects. Since joining the Stage-Gate International team Barry has worked with several clients across various industries including manufacturing, chemical, household goods, technology (software) and cosmetics. He has provided services such as deliverables design and development, process assessments, process implementations, data analysis, portfolio management and innovation strategy consulting, training and best practice blogging and webcasting.   Barry holds a BS in Accounting from Penn State University and an MBA from St. Francis University in Lorreto, Pennsylvania and is pursuing certification by the Product Development and Management Association as a New Product Development Professional (NPDP).