The range of software tools to support a stage and gate style process is extensive. To help guide you through the maze of options we suggest three broad areas or types of tool that you may wish to consider.
1. General Purpose Office Software
For example, Microsoft Word, Excel, SharePoint etc. These are the obvious place to start when first developing your stage and gate process. The advantage is that you can cheaply and easily develop your templates for deliverables and documents required for the gates, and you can easily share and distribute these with email or with general collaboration tools such as SharePoint or Office 365.
The weakness of these general tools is that the process can quickly get out of hand and lose its manageability. Too many different excel spreadsheets flying around, unwanted changing or bending of the document formats/contents to suit individual preferences, and generally a lack of proper long-term process governance. So, a good place to start, but then something more is needed.
2. Specific Functional software
There are a variety of specific functional/technical aspects in stage and gate, or phase gate, that can benefit from the right tools. As an example, QFD (quality function deployment software); if this is part of your process deliverables/gate submissions, then it makes sense to select tools to support those specific technical needs. Ideas management (creative concepts) tools are a good way to manage the feed into the stage gate process. An example is BrightIdea, although there are numerous other options available.
3. Integrated Stage and Gate Software Solutions
Integrated solutions typically provide an extensive software solution to the stage and gate, or phase gate process, and the best of them also link this through to portfolio management, resource management and best-practice financial management.
The power of functionality availability from these tools is extensive and impressive. The best software will contain functionality to support the full range of:
- Ideas management
- Phase Gate Workflow/Process
- Portfolio Management
- Resource Management
- Financial Management
- Project Management
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