The Stage Gate process was designed and improved many years ago by Robert G. Cooper and has become a standard in the innovation landscape. The process is staged and is intended to structure a development process.
Stage 1: Search for ideas
Many questions arise here. Where should one look for ideas anyway? Which are interesting markets? What are interesting options for products or business models? Who can provide us with new ideas, customers, employees or even external ones? Which search fields suit my company, which ideas suit my corporate strategy?
Stage 2: generating ideas
Ideas can be brought to your company by employees, customers, suppliers or generally by external parties. Ideas can also be developed in idea workshops together with your customers or lead users.
Stage 3: idea evaluation and selection
The large number of ideas are briefly described and then evaluated using predetermined criteria. If they fit the company, could there be a possible sales market behind them, do we have the necessary resources, is it foreseeable that the ideas will be profitable in the foreseeable future…
Stage 4: development phase
Keep detailing the ideas, check the framework conditions with regard to feasibility, do patent research and literature searches, work out requirements for the product, make a rough business plan, estimate costs, make the first basic preliminary tests for the production of the product or service , Plan resources and costs for the development of the product.
Stage 5: Project phase
Further detail your project with a detailed business and marketing plan, set up your business model, make the first prototypes and test them with prospects or customers.
Stage 6: implementation phase
Implement what you have described in your business plan. This ranges from building the production facilities, hiring and training employees, setting up quality control, logistics, distribution, marketing, sales to make the product successful with their customers.
Setting gates 1 to 5:
They always set a gate between each stage. Here, predetermined questions must be answered after each stage. The gatekeepers (usually from management) ensure that the project team presents the necessary documents to answer the questions in gatekeeper meetings. Classic questions that have to be answered in many stages are:
- Business plan template
- Patent search or freedom to operate
- market research
- Strengths and Weaknesses (SWOT) analysis
- customer benefit
- Unique selling points (USP)
- manufacturing costs
- competitive situation
- market entry barriers
- Legal framework
The Stage Gate process brings structure to your innovation process, but it is not a cure.
What do you gain from the introduction of a stage gate process?
- Increased probability of project success due to strict project selection
- You are faster on the market with your new products
- Systematization & structuring of the often uncontrolled development process
- Involving a wide variety of departments and know-how carriers in the development process,
- More efficient use of resources and reduction of rework
- Provides an overview of ongoing projects
- Ensures a holistic process without forgetting critical steps
Things not to forget:
- Stage Gate must be individually tailored to the company
- Stage Gate is a culture change in the company and requires high management attention
- The Stage Gate process is very well suited for incremental development projects to improve existing products
- The Stage Gate process is almost unsuitable for radical developments, more flexibility is promoted here than the Stage Gate process with its detailed planning can offer