In my recent blog post, The Top 3 Must Have Tools for your Next Gate Meeting, I talk about how standardized, yet flexible deliverables are important to establish to ensure fair and consistent analysis when comparing projects. But there is another reason why standardized deliverables are so important…
Create standardized deliverables gate-by-gate
Standardizing deliverables gate-by-gate gives project teams a checklist to follow related to information delivery and ensures they are consistently delivering the correct information to gatekeepers accelerating time-to-market. For example, at Gate 2 your team will need to provide a preliminary market and technical assessment accompanied by high-level financial analysis. And at Gate 3, they will need to provide a detailed market and technical analysis along with a business case consisting of a sales forecast, dollars and units. They know what’s expected which can streamline your meeting.
As an experienced practitioner, I realize that setting up standardize deliverables is not something that happens overnight – so there will be trial and error. When I first inherited the responsibility of owning the Stage-Gate® process at a former company, the project teams were coming to gate meetings with deliverables of their own choosing. Deliverables were inconsistent from project-to-project and all were touting why their project was the most important to the organization and the highest priority. Which brings me to my next point, priority.
Get your priorities straight, leverage scorecards
During this time, we were so concerned with just grandfathering the projects that made up the portfolio that we didn’t even consider the possibility that some of those projects needed to be stopped, or KILLED. For those of you who regularly attend gate meetings, whether a gatekeeper or project team leader, I know you have felt this pain. Project leaders ask, “What do I deliver and when do I deliver it?” And gatekeepers ask, “How do I make sense of it all?” You are expected to review tons of project data and ask sensible and appropriate questions to move the project forward or kill it. It can be a difficult and time consuming task for all parties involved…
Standardize the deliverables…
Tie what needs to be delivered at the gate to a scorecard. Scorecards can vary from company to company, even business unit to business unit; however, there are a six standard categories that are commonly used and if used together there should be little variation in what is delivered.
The six most common scorecard criteria are:
- Strategic Fit and Importance – Does it fit with your Innovation Strategy? If launched what is the impact on the business and how important to the business is it?
- Product and Competitive Advantage – Will the product provide unique benefits to the consumer? How much will they spend for the value it provides?
- Market Attractiveness – What is the size of the market and is there growth potential? Are our margins in alignment with business needs and how many players are there?
- Synergies or Core Competencies – How well does it align with your current technological and production abilities/experience?
- Technical Feasibility – How large is the technical gap from what exists today? How do you plan to bridge that gap?
- Financial Reward vs. Financial Risk – What is the expect return versus the amount of required investment? NPV or ROI?
Gatekeepers who are given data that directly correlates to the scorecard have what they need to easily compare projects and make those tough GO/KILL decisions that are so critical to the overall health of the portfolio. Also, teams focused on collecting data that ties to the scorecards will be focused on the things that are most important to getting the project to the next gate and ultimately launched.
For more on how to evaluate and compare projects, I invite you to watch this onDemand webcast “Killing Projects with Confidence” that I recently delivered with Carrie Nauyalis, Innovation and NPD Solution Evangelist with Planview. It provides information on running go/kill meetings, best practices and more.
Stage-Gate® is a registered trademark of Stage-Gate Inc.