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what-is-one-problem-with-phase-gate-milestones

What is one problem with phase-gate Milestones?

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A. They force design decisions too late in the process

B. They assume a point Solution exists and can be built right the first time

C. They require the Product Owner to act as gatekeeper or guardian of the process

D. They account for variability inherent in the process

The Correct Answer is

B. They assume a point Solution exists and can be built right the first time

Explanation

One problem with phase-gate milestones is that they assume a point solution exists and can be built right the first time.

Phase-gate processes are commonly used in traditional project management and product development methodologies. They involve a series of stages (phases) where each phase must meet certain criteria (gates) before moving on to the next. While this approach can provide structure and checkpoints for projects, it has several limitations, especially in complex, uncertain, or innovative project environments where agility and flexibility are required.

Here’s why the highlighted problem is significant and how it contrasts with the other options

  • They force design decisions too late in the process: This statement would be inaccurate regarding the typical critique of phase-gate processes. One critique is often the opposite — that they might force early closure on design decisions to pass a gate, potentially limiting flexibility and innovation.

  • They assume a point solution exists and can be built right the first time: This is a key limitation. Phase-gate models are based on the premise that a project can be thoroughly planned upfront and that a single, correct solution can be identified early in the process. This assumption often clashes with the reality of many projects, where learning, adaptation, and iterative development are necessary to discover and refine effective solutions over time.

  • They require the Product Owner to act as a gatekeeper or guardian of the process: While having clear roles and responsibilities is crucial in any project management methodology, the idea of the Product Owner acting as a gatekeeper is not an inherent problem of phase-gate milestones. In Agile methodologies, the Product Owner plays a crucial role in prioritizing work and ensuring the product meets the customers’ needs, but the critique of phase-gates relates more to the process structure than specific roles.

  • They account for variability inherent in the process: Actually, one of the criticisms of phase-gate processes is that they do not adequately account for variability and the need for adaptation. They are often seen as rigid, where each phase must be completed and approved before moving to the next, which can stifle responsiveness to change.

Therefore, the assumption that a solution can be perfectly planned and executed right from the start, without the need for iterative development and learning, is a significant problem with the phase-gate approach, particularly in fast-paced, uncertain, or innovative project environments.

Other SAFe Scrum Master Question – What is one problem with phase-gate Milestones?

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