The concept of the Stage-Gate process is derived from the product innovation management. It involves specific design of the development process, product innovations, in which different stages of the process are distributed among decision-making points. The Stage-Gate model assumes six stages of innovation implementation, with only the best ideas getting through to the next stages. Ideas that have not gone further can be recycled and wait for a new process in other circumstances, be resold to the entity for which they are worth, or transferred to the "open innovation" activities (R.G.Cooper 2016).
Characteristics of the model
The Stage-Gate process is characterized by:
- big picture view of the conception to launch process that possible optimal novation management to realize rapid, remunerative and successful new product development.
- a roadmap that organizes the chaotic time, inception to launch new product development process into smaler, more manageable stages to manage risk.
- process rigor is right-sized to project context and risk at the first and at each subsequent Gate enabling real-time prcess routing to optimize new product development pipeline productivity.
Benefits of Using a Stage-Gate Model:
- success on the market, sale of a new product and profits from sales
- the success of making and implementing the project in the company (somehow and the speed of the project is at a high level)
- better somehow cooperation within the company, improving interpersonal relationships
- good communication between external stakeholders, including customers, partners and suppliers
After receiving a grant from a government, Dr Robert Cooper started to gather to information about project management in big companies. He spent a few months to collect stories from different managers and experts. That stories helped him to find a pattern of managing projects that later he called “Stage- Gate Process”.
Stages and gates of the process
The Stage Gate process consists of several stages that are connected with each other by gates. Each stage is aimed at gathering specific information:
- Stage 0: discovery
- Gate 1: Initial Screen
- Stage 1: range determination
- Gate 2: Second Screen
- Stage 2: business plan concept
- Gate 3: Decision on Business Case
- Stage 3: development
- Gate 4: Post-development Review
- Stage 4: testing and validation
- Gate 5: Precommercialization Business Analysis
- Stage 5: commissioning and implementation
Stage 0: Discovery
At this stage, you must specify the scope of the project that can be implemented in the company. Ideas can be generated using brainstorming. Ideas can be invented by employees and customers. The idea is first selected and then proposed. If the idea is not worth the effort, the project is rejected.
Gate 1: Initial Screen
Creative thinking and screening of ideas. It is the first signal of commitment to the project.
Stage 1: Range determination
This stage involves the evaluation of the product and the related market. The strengths and weaknesses of the product and possible competition risks should be identified. Based on the estimated risk, production will continue or not.
Gate 2: Second Screen
More rigorous screen after which the project starts to be more expensive as a company starts to invest in more detailed investigation.
Stage 2: Business plan concept
Now that the product is not immune to competition, a business plan is being developed. This is the last stage of concept development and is important before starting product development. This stage is very labor-intensive and includes stages that must be completed: - Definition and analysis of the product - Creating a business plan - Creating a project plan - Feasibility study
Gate 3: Decision on Business Case
The last moment for withdrawal from the project before huge amount of money is invested.
Stage 3: Development
At this stage, the plans from previous stages are implemented and simple tests are carried out. At this stage, the opinion about productions can be verified. Finally, a prototype of the product is created, which will be widely tested during the next stage.
Gate 4: Post-development Review
Checking if the product after development is still as appealing as we want it to be.
Stage 4: Testing and validation
This stage includes product testing and validation. They also look at the production process and the way in which the product is accepted by customers and the market. At this stage, the product and the production process should be tested to correct errors. Check if it meets the expectations of customers.
Gate 5: Precommercialization Business Analysis
The last moment before the whole project is being commercialized. At the same time it is the last moment for withdrawal from the launch of the project if needed.
Stage 5: Commissioning and implementation
The marketing strategy comes into play at this stage of the Stage Gate process. The product is ready to run. An estimate of the quantity to be sold is given. Rules on production, inventory and distribution should be laid down. The team responsible for sales is responsible above all for ensuring a smooth process (R.G. Cooper 2015).
- As a final point we can also distinguish Post Implementation Review. It involves checking the strengths and weaknesses of the whole project and drawing conclusions for future.
More and more companies represent a new generation of idea-to-launch processes. In some cases, it's an evolution of Stage-Gate to a better, faster mode (R.G. Cooper 2015).
Robert G. Cooper and Elko J. Kleinschmidt examined the implementation of Stage-Gate Process for 21 leading companies. They published their results and observations in the article titled ‘STAGE-GATE® PROCESS FOR NEW PRODUCT SUCCESS’. According to the paper, Stage-Gate Process has strong positive impact on teamwork, success rates, cycle times or launch of a product. What is more, using this theory may help to detect failures earlier and to avoid reworking. As the researchers say in their essay, ‘strong evidence supports the approach.’
Examples of companies that, due to the article mentioned above, implemented (or partly implemented) the Stage-Gate Process in their actions: Exxon Chemicals, Procter & Gamble, Du Pont, Polaroid, US West, B.F. Goodrich, Corning Glass, Labatts, the Royal Bank of Canada, and Rohm & Haas.
Robert G. Cooper in his article ‘Stage-Gate Systems: A New Tool for Managing New Products’ says that ‘Product innovation will always be a high-risk endeavor.’ However, using proper technique and implementing know-how in the field of project or process management may help to achieve better results in a company.
- An interview with Dr Robert Cooper titled Stage-Gate in a nutshell (2015)
- Cooper R.G. (1990) Stage-Gate Systems: A New Tool for Managing New Products, "Business Horizons"
- Cooper R.G., Kleinschmidt E.J. (2001), STAGE-GATE® Process for New Product Success, , "Innovation Management"
- Cooper R.G. (2016) Agile–Stage-Gate Hybrids, , "Research-Technology Management", 59:1, 21-29
- Cooper R.G. (2015) What’s Next?: After Stage‐Gate, "Stage‐Gate International", January – February 2014
- Grönlund J., Rönnberg Sjödin D., Frishammar J. (2010), Open Innovation and Stage-Gate Process- A Revised Model for New Product Development,"California Management Review", VOL. 52, NO. 3
Author: Maria Drzazga, Aleksandra Borkowska