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Gate, Stage Review (Process Definition)


What is a Phase Review Process
Phase Review Template
Working with the Genius Scorecard
Genius Phase Review Cheat Sheet


Thanks to its extreme flexibility Genius Project can map to any kind of process and/or methodology. One of the more popular industry methodologies is phase review, also referred to as a Tollgate or Stage-Gate® process.  

This document explains how to leverage Genius Project to effectively support your phase review process, and how to take full advantage of Genius Project’s out-of-the-box pre-configured phase review template.

What is  a Phase Review Process

A Phase Review process, also referred to as a Stage-Gate® process, is a project management technique, in which an initiative or project (e.g. product development, process improvement, business change, etc.) is divided into phases (or stages) separated by tollgates. Each tollgate marks a decision point whether to carry on the project. This is typically performed by a manager or a steering committee. The decision is based on the information available at the time, including business case, risk analysis, availability of resources (funds, talents, etc.). The phase review model may also be known as stage-limited commitment or creeping commitment.

For decades, the phase review process has been very popular, especially in the area of New Product Development. There are several industry standards based on the basic principles of phase review:

  • Stage-Gate® (trademark)
  • Tollgate review process
  • APQP (Automotive)
  • Six Sigma

Tollgate Review

Tollgate reviews are meetings where a designated management team, often known as the gatekeepers, decides whether a project should continue or stop. The project manager and his/her team present the results of the stage most recently completed. The gatekeepers assess the results on the basis of the criteria agreed upon and that must clarify the following: 

  • Quality of execution: has the work been performed, has the project yield the expected results, and is the quality of the work satisfactory.
  • Business rationale: from its onset, has the value proposition been demonstrated from an economic and business perspective, and are the schedule and budget still viable.
  • Action plan: what is the plan moving forward, including the results to be delivered during the next stage, the timeline, and the resources needed for the project team to deliver the expected results.

A tollgate meeting can lead to four outcomes: go, kill, hold, and recycle.
Tollgates share a common structure and consist of three main elements:

  • Deliverables (Input)
  • Criteria
  • Outputs

A deliverable is input provided by the project team prior to the tollgate meeting. Deliverables to produce during the next phase are output of the last tollgate meeting. On a case by case basis, other deliverables may be added to the default list provided by the project template. It could also be the result of corrective actions or updates associated with previous stages or reviews. 

Project Evaluation

Along the phase review process, each project idea (request) and project are evaluated from different perspectives. Organizations will often look at value proposition, feasibility, risks, and strategic importance. Post evaluation, it is critical for companies to find ways of prioritizing projects across the entire portfolio.

Below is a list of the most-commonly found criteria used to evaluate projects. Of course the capacity of the company to execute the project from a financial and resource point of view can be included as well. 

  • Strategic
    • Degree to which a project aligns with the BU’s strategy
    • Project’s strategic importance
  • Product advantage
    • Unique benefits
    • Meets customer needs better
    • Value for money
  • Market attractiveness
    • Market size
    • Market growth
    • Competitive situation
  • Synergies
    • Marketing synergies
    • Technological synergies
    • Manufacturing/processing synergies
  • Technical feasibility
    • Technical GAP
    • Complexity
    • Technical uncertainty
  • Risk versus return
    • Expected profitability (NPV)
    • Internal Rate of Return (IRR)
    • Payback period
    • Certainty of return/profit estimates
    • Low cost & fast to do 


During each phase a number of tasks, documents, studies, and tests must be completed in order to provide information to support the next decision gate. This is essential as it involves the livelihood of the project. Different ways exist to evaluate the go/no-go decision to proceed to the next step. One of those methods is called score cards, defining a list of goals and minimum levels of acceptance for each of the defined goals.

Each score card will carry all of the necessary information to make an informed decision at each tollgate.

Stage-Gate Process

The Stage-Gate® method from Robert G. Cooper is an approach that can be used to make the product development process more effective. From ideation to product launch, it is a blueprint for managing the new product process. With a number of predetermined phases, or stages, each of these involves a set of cross-functional and parallel activities that must be successfully completed prior to obtaining management approval to proceed to the next stage of product development. The entry point to each stage is called: a gate.

These gates often take the form of meetings that ensure the consistency of the process and serve as:

  1. Quality Control.
  2. Go/Kill checkpoints. Readiness checks, Must-Meet criteria and Should meet criteria.
  3. Action plan markers for the next phase

Stage-Gate® is a registered trademark of Product Development Institute Inc.

The Stage-Gate® methodology refers to phases as stages. Typical stages found are:

    0.  Discovery
    1.  Scoping
    2.  Build Business Case
    3.  Development
    4. Testing and Validation
    5. Launch

Discovery: Preliminary work designed to explore opportunities and lead to new product ideas.

Stage 1: Scoping: A quick, preliminary investigation and scoping of the project. This stage provides inexpensive information – based largely on research – in an effort to narrow down the project pool before Stage 2.     

Stage 2: Build the Business Case: A much more detailed investigation involving primary research – both market and technical – leads to a business case. This is where the bulk of the vital homework is performed and most of the market studies are carried out. This results in a business case that includes the product definition, the project justification, and a project plan.

Stage 3: Development: The actual detailed design and development of the new product, along with some product testing work. The deliverable at the end of Stage 3 is an “alpha-tested” or “lab-tested” product. Full production and market launch plans are also developed during this possibly long lasting stage.

Stage 4: Testing and Validation: Tests or trials in the marketplace, lab, and plant to verify and validate the proposed new product and its marketing and production/operations – field trials or beta tests, test market or trial sell, and operations trials.

Stage 5: Launch: Commercialization – beginning of full operations or production, marketing, and selling. Here the market launch, production/operations, distribution, QA, and post-launch monitoring plans are executed too.

The review and go/no go decision points are named “GATES.”

APQP Advanced Product Quality Planning

Advanced Product Quality Planning is a process developed in the late 1980s by a commission of experts gathered from the 'Big Three' US automobile manufacturers: Ford, GM and Chrysler. This commission invested five years to analyze the then-current automotive development and production status in the US, Europe and especially in Japan. At the time, the success of the Japanese automotive companies was starting to be remarkable in the US market.

APQP serves as a guide in the development process and also a standard way to share results between suppliers and automotive companies. APQP specify three phases: Development, Industrialization and Product Launch. Through these phases 23 main topics is monitored. These 23 topics are all completed before the production is started. They cover aspects such as: design robustness, design testing and specification compliance, production process design, quality inspection standards, process capability, production capacity, product packaging, product testing and operators training plan between other items.

APQP focuses on:

  • Up-front quality planning
  • Assessment of customers’ satisfaction based on evaluation of output and support of continuous improvement APQP consists of five phases:
    • Plan and Define Program
    • Product Design and Development Verification
    • Process Design and Development Verification
    • Product and Process Validation
    • Launch, Feedback, Assessment & Corrective Action

The review and go/no go decision points are named “DESIGN REVIEW. 


Genius Project requires specific steps to be performed in a sequential order  to ensure that the process functions properly. Prior Following is a summary of the steps to be covered throughout this document:

  • Create/setup project critical success factors (refer to 14.2.1)
  • Create/setup “gate” document type .(refer to 0)
  • Setup the scorecard document template to the gate document type (refer to 14.2.3)
  • Create/setup the “gate” workflow used to identify the gate status (refer to 14.2.4)
  • Create/setup project types aligned with process (refer to 14.2.5)
  • Create/setup the project template based on the intended lifecycle (refer to
  • Create the phase review process (refer to 14.3.2)
  • Final touch-ups to the project template (fill out scorecard criteria, project description edit/save).

Project Evaluation and Prioritization - Critical Success Factors

A project’s critical success factors are defined in the project description document, split into two subsections titled “Budget & ROI” and “Project ranking”. They are fully configurable.

This section is used to support project prioritization that feeds into the project evaluation taking place at the portfolio level. While project prioritization helps identify where resources should be allocated, project evaluation determines if a project should be pursued.

Step 1: Create and Setup Critical Success Factors

  • Click the  icon located on the top right hand-side corner of your Genius Project screen. This lets you access GP setup.

  • Select Portfolio from the drop down menu.

  • Navigate to the Setup tab, General view and open the General document from the content window.


  • Navigate to the ‘Ranking’ tab and…

The ‘Ranking’ tab offers organizations the option to include up to 10 fields to be used to calculate project ranking.

Each field represents a unique ranking criteria and its weight in the ranking calculation i.e. 25%. When

PMs create new projects or project requests, the values they assign each criterion is used by the system to automatically calculate the project’s overall ranking.
Ranking fields can be:

  • A list
  • Computed
  • A numeric value
  • A value range

The type for each field is to be defined during the configuration of the system.

Field Use 
Field Type/Option
  • Computed
  • List - the default list includes the choices below, but can be changed to better reflect an organization’s terminology:
    • None
    • Low
    • Medium
    • High
    • Unacceptable
  • Value – Manually enter a numeric value
  • Value Range – a slider bar to indicate value
Label The name of the ranking criterion
Weight The weight it holds in the overall ranking calculation
Mandatory Whether the field is mandatory or not

The options are based on the selected field type: Field type "List":

  • List options

Field type "Value":

  • Limit: The maximum value that can be entered
  • Unit: the unit of measure

Field type "Value Range":

  • Values range: the first and last values for the range i.e. 0-100

Field type "Computed":

  • Formula: the formula necessary to calculate the computed value


Default Value  The default value upon creating a new project or request 

Creating a New Document Type - Gate

All gated processes operate under the assumption that a [Gate] ends each project phase or stage. The mechanics needed for the review process to work require a new document type.

Step 2: Setup a New Document Type called "Gate"

Click the  icon located on the top right hand-side corner of your Genius Project screen. This lets you access GP setup.

  • Click Current
  • Under the Setup tab, open the record called Keywords & Labels
  • In the area designated Document Type, click the  icon to add a new document type called gate.


Creating Tollgate Document Templates

The newly created document type [gate] still needs to be matched to a specific document template called scorecard. This is a specific form designed to facilitate the gate review meeting.

Step 3: Match the scorecard document to the "Gate" document type

  • Click the  icon located on the top right hand-side corner of your Genius Project screen. This lets you access GP setup.
  • Click Current.
  • Under the Setup tab, open the record called Keywords & Labels
  • Click the templates subforms tab, and click the Update the list button. This should refresh the list and bring up Template Scorecard.  

  • Click the Enable button to activate the Template ScoreCard. Select it by double clicking on it the dialog box that comes up.

  • You will be asked to give it a name. Use anything that makes sense to you. We suggest the name scorecard.

  • Close out of the Keywords & Labels and select the «Template» tab
  • Click on the new template button and select the form type whose name you assigned previously.

  • Select the template type Gate and give it a name. We recommend Gate as well. As a result of selecting the specific form type above, the document template has pulled it in.

Tollgate Workflow Definition

There is a pre-defined gate workflow which is outlined below.

The workflow sequence is as follows:

Step 4: Associate a Workflow to a "Gate" Document Type

  • Click the  icon located on the top right hand-side corner of your Genius Project screen. This lets you access GP setup.
  •  Click Current
  • Under the Setup tab, click Document Type in the left pane
  • Open the record called Gate, and select the workflow Gate next to the Associate workflow field.

Setup Project Type

Since not all projects necessarily follow a phase review process, Genius Project differentiates projects that do and do not follow this process based on its type. The project description captures this information. Once saved, this field can no longer be edited.

It makes sense to consider the number of identical and different phase review processes that exist within an organization. A similar process can apply to several project types. Since the project type selected drives the review process to enforce, these should be carefully chosen. For instance, out of 4 project types, 2 can tie to one review process while the other 2 are associated to another review process. In this case, process refers to the number of stages and gates identified in the process.

Step 6: Create/Modify the Project Type Value List

  • Click the icon located on the top right hand-side corner of your Genius Project screen. This lets you access GP setup.
  • Click Current
  • Under the  Setup tab, open the record called Keywords & Labels.
  • In the area designated Project Type, click the icon to edit the list of values.

Upon saving the project description whose project type is tied to a phase review process populates a computed field called Process that indicates which process is enforced.

Phase Review Template

Genius Project can map to a wide variety phase review processes. There can be as many phase review templates as needed. The setup below described should be used as guidelines and is not carved in stone. Alternate configuration is possible. Any phase review template contains the following items:

  • Critical Success Factors setup in the project description (see Step 1: Create and setup critical success factors)
  • A new document type (see Step 2: Setup a New Document Type called “Gate”)
  • A new subform template called [ScoreCard] (see Step 3: Match the scorecard document template to the “gate” document type)
  • One document template [Gate] based on the score card form used to manage each tollgate score card (see Working with the Genius score card)
  • A workflow definition called “Gate” to support a review process (see).
  • Phase Review tracking reports (see Phase Review )
  • A project template (see Phase Review Process Project Template) that includes the following:

WBS with phase, deliverables & tollgates (Step 5: Create a new project template and Step 6: Convert milestones into tollgates)

  • Document templates setup for all deliverables associated to a tollgate
  • Predefined tollgate scorecards (Working with the Genius score card)
  • Phase Review process setup and reporting setup (Phase review process and reporting setup) 

Phase Review Process Project Template

Step 5: Create a new project template

  • Create a new project with the project type associated to the review process being created (i.e. a 3-stage process). The project status should be set to [template]
  • Create a plan that mirrors a WBS in line with you process. A 3-stage process means 3 phases have to exist. Note that a plan can be imported from MSP.
  • Every gate will be positioned under their respective phase (i.e. 3 stages relevant to the review process). Sub-phases can be added but won’t be accounted for in the review process. Though, there are useful for project tracking. 

Important note: creating a gate comes down to creating a new deliverable whose labeled identifies that it is a gate (i.e. “gate 0: go to the Scoping”). Additional steps will be taken later on to differentiate gates from deliverables.

Step 6: Convert Milestones into Tollgates

  • From the view “Plan – Gantt”, open in edit mode each deliverable whose label identifies a gate.
  • Click on the «Actions» button to convert your deliverable, and select the document type [Gate]. The template scorecard form configured earlier automatically comes up.

The template scorecard form and workflow matched to the [Gate] document type automatically come up.

  • Click OK to go through with the conversion

The ScoreCard form is merged into the deliverable record and two new tabs are created, Score card and Phase Tollgate. Also, the workflow inherited by the newly converted gate is the predefined one.

Phase review process and reporting setup

Visibility is critical for the Management team. Reporting is available to track project status throughout the entire phase review process. All of the steps previously carried out let us finalize the set up of the phase review process and corresponding reporting.

  • Click the  icon located on the top right hand-side corner of your Genius Project screen. This lets you access GP setup.
  • Click Portfolio
  • Under the Setup tab, click on Phase Review Process
  • Click the New phases review process button and select Phase Review Process

The preliminary steps covered in step 5 were critical to complete this setup.

Process name

Identifies the name of the process.

Associated project types

Associates the phase review process to specific project types.


Identifies the reference project template used for the phase review process.

Reference plan

Identifies the reference project template plan used for the phase review process.

Click the  icon to add a new section to the phase review process.

  • Create as many sections as you have phases/stages in you phase review process. Each new section is added below the previous one. They should be defined from top to bottom based on the sequential review process. Select the tollgate associated with each phase from the dropdown [Name of the associated tollgate]. Other fields are automatically filled in. Note that the phase color can be changed if needed. If you refer to Phase Review Reporting, columns colors can make for enhanced readability.

Name of the associated Tollgate

Name of the associated tollgate 

Tollgate document type

Identified the document type associated to the tollgate. It should always to what is configured on point 0 and 14.2.3)

Phase name

Identifies the phase name associated to the selected tollgate.

Phase color

Identifies the color used in the reporting for the selected phase.


To remove a phase definition

Once the phase review process is configured, edit and save the project description and convert again each of the gates (see Step 6: Convert milestones into tollgates).

Phase Review Reporting

The chart displays projects grouped by project type. The number of columns that appear equals the number of phases your process has (see A diamond in each phase represents the tollgate that exists and its color-coded status. Diamonds change color as tollgate status change. Legends can be found below. Selecting a project that follows a different process will adjust the number of columns to match to the desired process.

Once the project is initially created, the agent “refresh the project list” from the portfolio database has to run at least once (by default it runs every two hours).

Important note: only projects that have gates show in this report and appear regardless of the project status.


Not started


In progress


Green = GO





Working with the Genius Scorecard

Gates are naturally critical decision points in a project and require careful assessment. It is most commonly-found for organizations to hold a gate review meeting where a set of success factors are assessed to determine a course of actions. The score card form available in Genius Project captures the score of for each success factor. These can be different for each tollgate and refer to documents/records attached to the project. Since the phase review process setup is completed, you can populate the score card in your project template.

  • Open any gate, and under the «Setup» tab click on the «Add» button to add success factors
  • Click the  button to build a link to the reference document used to assess success factors.

General section

Score card evaluation type

Identifies what evaluation system is used for each success factor to actual values vs. target score.

  • Average means that the score card success factors are satisfactory to move to the next step if the average score is equal to or greater than the average target.
  • All reached means that the score card success factors are satisfactory to move to the next step only if all scores are equal to or greater to the defined target.
  • Manual means that no automation is built in, it comes down to a user decision


Evaluation result reached?

Identifies whether the score card values entered have reached the target score based on the evaluation system chosen. It is automatically computed if the field [score card evaluation type] is set to “Average” or “All reached”.

If the field [score card evaluation type] is “Average” then a “Yes” is triggered if the [Average score] is equal to or greater to the value found against [Average score criteria].

If the field [score card evaluation type] is “All Reached” then a “Yes” is triggered if all of the actual values are equal to or greater to each their respective target. In case of a “No”, the ratio of failed/satisfactory criteria is displayed next to the answer. For instance (2/7) will mean 2 out of 7 are reached.

If the field [score card evaluation type] is “Manual”, a «Yes/No» button is available for manual selection.

Default value is “No”.

Average score of criteria

Captures the average score of actual values if the [score card evaluation type] is set to “Average”. 

Average score

Captures the average score of target if the [score card evaluation type] is set to “Average”.


Create a new row


Remove a selected row

Success factors section 


A color indicator (green or red) computed based on the comparison of actual values vs. target. Green means that actual values are equal to or greater than the target. Red means that actual values are smaller than the target.


Describes the success factor to assess.


Captures the target score to reach


Captures the actual values associated to a success factor

Reference document

Provides a link to a reference document related to the decision making process used to come up with the actual value. For example, the success factor “market share growth potential” can have a reference link to the market research report.


Captures comments

Genius Phase Review Cheat Sheet

Phase review, or Stage-Gate®, is a process with standardized phases. Each phase has a Go/No-Go decision point called tollgate. The tollgate can be an entry point to start the current phase or an exit point to start the next phase (by default in Genius).


In Genius Project, tollgates are special deliverables (milestone) present at the end of phases. 

Tollgates have embedded score cards used to define whether projects make it to the next phase.

Score card 

A document with a list of “success factors” including target score and actual score. 

Tollgate review process

The workflow attached to the tollgate tracks the Go/No-Go decision with the following statuses (below is the default workflow proposed by Genius Inside).


Stand-by, evaluation of the tollgate has not started, neither has the phase.


Evaluation of the tollgate has started, phase has started.


The tollgate is approved, and the score card details should reflect that.


The tollgate was not approved, and the score card details should reflect that. Under these circumstances, the project is also stopped.


The tollgate was not approved, and the score card details should reflect that. Another round of evaluation will take place.

Phase review tracking


A chart providing visibility into the status of each tollgate and their respective phases for all project based on a phase review process.

The chart is defined in the portfolio setup.

Project evaluation

The primary evaluation criteria assessed throughout the project lifecycle are feasibility and value proposition, often using predefined critical success factors.

Phase review project  template

A complete phase review project template built with the required phases, tollgates, score cards and other relevant content to execute projects based on the agreed process and methodology.


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