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Stage Gating

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In the previous step, you learnt that you can simplify the user experience by creating a business process flow that spans multiple entities. To leverage this, you will now look at steps.

A business process flow stage is comprised of steps. Users advance to the next stage by clicking the next stage button.

If any of the steps within a stage are designated as required these steps will prevent the user from clicking the next stage button. This is commonly referred to as stage gating. It is a way to enforce that a defined business process is followed. The user is allowed to return to previous stages as needed. As long as the required steps in those previous steps are not disrupted the user will be able to go back and forth in previous stages without an issue.

In many real-life processes, a user slowly gains the information needed to complete their work and must work in the order of dependencies that the organisation, compliance regulations and other processes require.

Stage gating is an opportunity to focus the user’s data input on the required elements and prevent the user from skipping ahead without needed information. Stage gating supports background automation by ensuring the needed data will be available to behind the scenes processes at the stage where it is needed and supports reporting accuracy so that progress isn’t misrepresented on account of missing data.

In the example of a bank evaluating a new customer for a small personal loan, several pieces of data and communication will be needed throughout the process. Stage gating in the initial stage ensures that automated emails and letters sent to the prospective customer have the needed information such as the prospective customer’s full name, type of loan and enrollment details.

In the next stage, the banker will need to gather financial data and records from the prospective customer. This stage cannot end until all the needed financial records are gathered from the prospective customer. The banker may return to the initial stage to add optional customer information such as additional phone numbers and then return to the second stage to continue collecting needed data. The banker cannot hand off the prospective customer to the loan officer until all required information and documentation are required.

The executive leaders of the bank can see the status of all prospective loans in process and evaluate the pipeline of incoming accounts. Personalised automated communications are sent to the prospective customer reminding them of missing documents and steps needed to be completed.

Steps can be required in the business process flow even if the related field is not required on the form. This is because you may have data that is necessary at a particular point in the process but may not be known or needed earlier in the process, and you do not want to prevent the user from saving the form. Unlike a required field on the form, a required step will not prevent the record from saving; it will only prevent the business process flow from advancing to the next stage until the step is completed.

Screenshot of example of stage gating scenario with fields marked as required

Be mindful of over-complicating your business process flow by requiring steps that aren’t completely necessary. Often a step that is only sometimes required is a good use case to add branching logic to your business process flow. In many cases, complex business processes will require branching and stage gating together for vital steps to guide the genuine process.

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