Phase Gate - also called stage gate - is a project management principle that can be leveraged in many lines of business including new product development, investing, and manufacturing. At a high level, phase gate is strategic approach to breaking down a complicated process into more manageable phases, which are then separated by checkpoints.
Why is this specifically important in manufacturing?
Determining and managing a successful process is key to a high-quality product with minimal variability between batches. In manufacturing, more so than in other industries, customers expect product consistency. Implementing a phase gate process ensures that product output is checked at strategic points during the production process to catch any errors that may appear.
With many employees working in direct cooperation with large and potentially dangerous machinery, a phase gate process can also improve working conditions. When the manufacturing process is segmented, work instruction and training can be more specialized. The onboarding process could be managed through a phase gate process itself. Once on the production floor, employees can be assigned to a production phase according to training and experience. The evolution of new equipment can also be effectively managed through safety review.
Process efficiencies gained from phase gate lead to cost savings. By checking product development and output at regular intervals, manufacturing companies can successfully manage personnel efficiencies and reduce the risk of production waste from manufacturing flaws and product recalls.
To accomplish the critical benefits that a phase gate process brings to manufacturing, AODocs has developed user-oriented features that streamline and automate our clients’ successful phase gate processes.
Through AODocs, companies can outline the process that works best for their organization and integrate it directly into their technology, tools, and training materials. Deploying our manufacturing workflow templates and setting them up with the right people ensures that reviews can occur at the right points in the production process with minimal disruption and delay.
Whether your phase gate process calls for a single approval, multiple approvals, or tiered approvals, AODocs can accommodate your business requirements. Our implementation specialists work directly with our client partners to determine and customize each ‘gate’ in your process. This ensures that the right people are reviewing and authorizing each phase of production. We also incorporate communication, like automated email and mobile reminders, for approvers. Each approval will know exactly when they are needed so that they can be more productive and focused when they’re doing other tasks.
AODocs can determine which of a series of subsequent phases a project or document should be sent to depending on the phase gate and approval status. For example, if a product is not approved for quality reasons at phase 2, it can initiate a correction workflow that has predefined steps to correct this type of issue. If it is approved at phase 2, the product can move on to production phase 3 instead. Integrating decision tree logic keeps the process moving smoothly even if issues arise.
For compliance and productivity, it is essential that a digital audit log is maintained. Data management, compliance, agility, and improvement all play hand-in-hand when technology is used strategically within the phase gate framework. AODocs ensures not only compliance but transparency that helps our clients transform their businesses. AODocs advanced reports help management monitor the efficiency of the process and quickly identify any bottlenecks.
The management philosophy behind phase gate is easy to appreciate. In practice, implementing and automating a successful phase gate process in a manufacturing environment takes deliberate planning and sophisticated technology integrations that are still easy for the users to use on a day-to-day basis.
For more information on how AODocs can support your phase gate or manufacturing business, click here for a free demo.