Managing robust stage gates across your program is critical to the success of many strategic programs. Stage gates help to strengthen governance and enable early executive intervention on emerging risks – while still empowering initiative teams to adapt and execute flexibly against their goals.

In 2017 we were excited to announce that Shibumi began supporting stage-gate processes purpose-built for complex transformation programs! In 2020 our capability around stage gating and manage programs across multiple phases has developed significantly enabling organizations to tailor their Shibumi program management solution to match their exact organizational workflows.

Our approach builds on conventional stage-gate models while recognizing the unique challenges of governing large-scale, strategic programs – including sensitive information, diverse teams, complex dependencies, and high execution risk. We’ve worked closely with leading advisory firms and enterprise program leaders as we designed our enhanced capabilities, including:

  • Time-based goal definition
  • Advanced role management
  • Fine-grain visibility and metric editing controls
  • Dynamic portfolio-level resource planning
  • Automated notifications
  • Configurable rules-based workflow
  • Full history and audit logging

Time-based goal definition

The success of an individual initiative (as well as a broader program) is defined by meeting pre-defined goals along a target timeline. Shibumi now simplifies the process of tracking execution against targets, while also increasing executive visibility of emerging risks. As both individual initiatives and the broader program are executed, actual metrics can be compared with target metrics at specific points in time. Metrics can be customized for specific program goals, varying cadences can be defined (e.g. monthly, quarterly), and outcomes can be charted to visually depict both progress and gaps.                                                                                                               

Advanced Roles                                           

The key to an effective stage-gate process is defining (and enforcing) roles for reviewing and approving initiative progress at defined process points. Shibumi now enables program owners to define custom roles (with enterprise-specific nomenclature), set permission levels, and assign users to their appropriate role in the stage-gate process.

Fine-grain visibility and edit controls

Stage-gate processes also define how information is controlled and managed through the stages of a program. For example, the design phase of a program may include ongoing iteration on highly sensitive cost reduction targets, where premature wide-scale sharing of a target could lead to organization disruption. However, as the program shifts into execution, the cost targets may become both fixed and broadly shared.

To account for these needs, we’ve created configurable rules that can be optimized for the unique requirement of each program’s stage-gate process. Rather than hard-coded rules for generic stage-gates, Shibumi rules are defined as expressions that can incorporate any aspect of the program and/or initiative to manage access. These visibility and editing rules also fully integrate with pre-defined user roles.

Automated notification emails

To simplify and streamline stage-gate process execution, Shibumi also supports automated e-mail notification for required user actions. Notification emails are based upon configurable rules that determine to whom and when notifications should be sent. Like visibility rules, these notifications can incorporate any aspect of a program to support advanced logic conditions.

Configurable rules-based workflow

While the stage-gate concept is widely adopted, different programs will have very different approaches across stage numbering, definitions, approval structure, and information gathered. Shibumi’s fully configurable rules allow program owners (and their advisors) to define stage-gate processes that are optimized for their specific business context, as well as their preferred execution methodology.

Full history and audit logging

Finally, strong program governance requires rigorous change control and auditability. To manage stage-gate decisions, ensure accountability, and identify risk, reviewers need full visibility into the history and source of metric changes. Shibumi provides full transparency into the history and source of all changes with our history view. This view shows not only the time of the edits but also the user who made them.

Putting it all together

Let’s see how these capabilities come together by walking through an example.

When an initiative is added to the program, it starts in Stage 1. In this stage, an initiative owner enters basic business case information, including overall goals, objectives, and some high-level cost and benefit targets.

Once the initiative owner has completed entering the Stage 1 information, he flags the initiative as ready for Gate 1 approval. At this point, automated notifications are sent to the Gate 1 approvers along with a tailored view showing relevant details they need to make their decision.

As approvals are provided, the initiative progresses to Stage 2. Shibumi logs all changes and approvals for change control and future audits.

Based on the rules configured for this specific stage-gate process, the current stage defines which information is editable and visible. For example, with a financial benefit, targets could be locked once the initiative reaches Stage 3, and fields could be displayed to allow the initiative owner to start capturing actual metrics.

As you can see, each of these capabilities work together to support even the most complex stage-gate processes. However, they can also be combined flexibly to address governance and workflow requirements in other use cases.

We are already seeing the impact of these capabilities with early adopters of Shibumi stage-gate functionality, and we’re eager to help more program teams experience this success!

Contact us if you’d like to learn more or to see a demo of these great capabilities.

To see an example of Shibumi in action, including the use of stage gates to govern the process an RPA Transformation Program works through, click here