What is the Stage-Gate model? Description
The Stage-Gate method from Robert G. Cooper is an approach that can
be used to make the product development process more effective. It is
a blueprint for managing the new product process. From an idea to launching
a product. In a number of predetermined steps, or stages. Each
stage consists of a set of certain cross-functional and parallel activities
which must be successfully completed prior to obtaining management approval
to proceed to the next stage of product development. The entrance to
each stage is called: a gate. These gates, which are normally
meetings, control the process and serve as:
- Quality control
- Go / Kill check-points. Readiness-checks, Must-Meet criteria,
and Should-Meet criteria.
- Marker for action plan for the next phase.
Stage-Gate is a registered trademark of Product
Development Institute Inc.
Origin of the Stage-Gate methodology. History
The method is based on the experiences, suggestions and observations
of a large number of managers and firms in over 60 cases as observed
by Robert Cooper. The term "Stage-Gate" first appeared in an article
by Cooper in The Journal of Marketing Management, 3, 3, Spring 1988.
An even earlier version can be found in Cooper's book: "Winning at New
Usage of Stage-Gate. Applications
- Product Development, Innovation.
- Component of Portfolio Management.
Steps (stages) in the Stage-Gate model. Process
The Stage-Gate process is preceded by a Discovery stage, which
was added in a later version of the original model which had only 5
phases. It contains pre-work designed to discover opportunities and
to generate new ideas.
- Scoping. A quick, preliminary investigation of each project.
Provides inexpensive information by desk research to enable narrowing
the number of projects.
- Build the Business Case. A much more detailed investigation
by primary marketing and technical research. The business case must
include a product definition, a product justification and a project
- Development. A detailed design and development of the new
product, along with some simple product tests. Also a production plan
and a market launch plan are developed.
- Testing and Validation. Extensive product tests in both
the marketplace, the lab and the plant.
- Launch. Beginning of full production, marketing and selling.
Market launch, production / operations, distribution, quality assurance.
Post-Launch Reviews are performed.
In reality, it is necessary to drill down further into the sub-activities
to provide detailed and operational instructions for the innovation
Strengths of Stage-Gate methodology. Benefits
- Well-organized innovation can be a source of competitive advantage.
- Accelerated product development. Necessary because of shortening product
- Increased success chance of new products. Prevents poor projects early
and helps to redirect them.
- The model breaks down the complex innovation process in large corporations
in a number of smaller pieces.
- Provides overview, which enables prioritization and focus.
- Integrated market-orientation.
- Cross-functional. Involves input and participation of employees from
various functions in the organization. No separate R&D or Marketing Stage.
But see above Discovery.
- Can be combined with various performance metrics, such as
Net Present Value, etc.
Limitations of Stage-Gate. Disadvantages
- Although within a stage activities can be conducted in parallel, the
Stage-Gate approach is basically sequential (waterfall). Some innovation
experts believe that product development should actually be organized in
parallel, using loops.
- The original Stage-Gate framework did not deal with the Discovery process
and the activities to create new ideas.
- A tension exists between organizing and creativity. Both are very important
Book: Robert G.
Cooper - Product Leadership - Pathways to Profitable Innovation -
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