Stage Gate is a Discovery-to-Launch Process, and the ‘industry standard’ for managing product innovation, used by companies of all sizes around the world.

Stage gate is not new. The techniques for managing large and complex projects first embraced the ideas of phased investment back in the 1940s. Then, it was mostly mechanical and industrial projects. During the space race era, NASA employed and extended the ideas of phases and gates in large projects. IT projects for many decades used principles typically described as a waterfall approach – which really means front loading all the work associated with working out “how and why should we do this”.

The basic idea is simple – divide the project into phases. The early ones deal with the how and the why. The later phases deal with doing – developing and testing according to specification. Most importantly – between the major phases are review gates, to check everything is on track, and to approve starting of the next phase.

In the world of New Product Development, Dr Robert Cooper introduced the concepts and terminology of stage gate processes. He has written numerous seminal articles and books on the subject and has evangelised the benefits of formalising the phasing of investment into new product development projects.

Undoubtedly the benefits are substantial. Without a clear process, New Product Development is hard to do well. In this 7-part series of Blog Posts, we will be exploring the principles of Stage Gate in a lot more detail, with an in-depth break down of each stage. We will examine the gates and how to operate them, as well as the process of making decisions at each gate. Furthermore, we will review the implementation of Stage Gate and explore different Stage Gate software tools you may wish to consider.

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