Stage Gate Process: An Important Guide In 3 Points


Stage Gate is a highly creative and innovative project management approach that has become quite popular in recent years. More and more businesses are now leveraging the Stage Gate process to bring more optimized solutions for their operations.

The concept was developed by Dr. Robert Cooper, who is among the pioneers in thought leadership around the world today. And with more than 120 academic articles and multiple published books to his name, he continues to redefine the way projects are delivered in this modern age.

  1. Definition for Stage Gate Process
  2. Gates
  3. Stages that define the Stage Gate Process

1) Definition for Stage Gate Process

Stage Gate is a modern and innovative project management that further divides the project into multiple stages or gates. These gates are decision-making conjunction with deciding whether to move ahead with the same concept or not to further the next stage. This model is ideally suited to projects in the development of new products, enhancement, improvements, or any procedural change from the current operation.

Also known as the waterfall process, this process continues to be trademark under Dr. Robert Cooper only.

2) Gates

Gates are the cornerstone of the Stage Gate process that keeps a check on the overall project management. On each Gate, a supervisor or manager makes the decision evaluating the whole information and then taking the node for a go-ahead.

Here four decisions are crucial in moving forward during the Stage Gate Process.

  • Go: Project is in the right direction and ready to move forward with the further stage. 
  •  Kill: Project is in the wrong direction and not ready to develop further or can be closed as soon as possible.
  • Hold: Project is in the average stage and still not in shape to move to the next level. Still not that bad shape to close down now and can be restarted at a scheduled time.
  • Recycle: Project is in just a good stage but needs more modifications and development to move to the next level or stage.

3) Stages that define the Stage Gate Process

In this project management process, stages provide a fundamental road for the procedures to move ahead in a precise way. Each stage has some form of inter-connectivity and allows ease of communication for the information assessment.

  • Stage 0 starts with the discovery
  • Stage 1 follows with the scope
  • Stage 2 proceeds with the business plan concept
  • Stage 3 then defines the development
  • Stage 4 has testing and validation
  • Stage 5 then Fulfils ewith launch and implementation

Any project can have a specific 2, 3, or 5 complete stage gate processes. For instance, a market product development phase will have all 5 stages with each stage having different perspectives. While projects with the main focus on scoping will take only the first two stages and further development will take the next Stage. In case the project undergoes testing, then it moves to stage 4 as well. And in some unique cases, a project may ask for a particular stage as well.

Stage 0: Starts with the discovery

Every project starts with a newer idea or rejuvenated concept that can come from any employee, customer, supplier, or feedback form. These ideas are then brainstormed, selected, and proposed for a better future product. In case the idea fails to satisfy the members then, the gate closes on the first step only. Otherwise, if it gets approval, projects get moved to the next gate.

Stage 1: follows with the scope.

Here the idea is evaluated and assessed on several market scenarios. Strengths and weaknesses of the products as well as the value it generates for the consumers. Products threat from the present similar competition in the market is taken into consideration. Threat and future are analyzed to check the product feasibility. More the threat, the higher the chances the gate closes for this product. So project managers need to emphasize unique assessment and marketing ideas to pass through this gate.  

Stage 2: Proceeds with business Plan Concept

Now once the product or idea is given go ahead, then a further business plan must be mapped out to continue with the product development. This stage takes more time and gradually divides into multiple stages for optimized completion.

Product understanding and analysis

Here Product value and its benefits are matched with current market scenarios to further add more support to the overall project moving forward. All the essential instructions and requirements are listed to avoid the last time delays.

Drafting the Business plan 

Here the complete project plan is detailed out with an introduction, requirements, procedures, safety, and health regulations. Each part of the project must be given value to keep in line with the product development.

Market Feasibility study

Here different aspects of the business plan are then analyzed and assessed for success in the current market scenarios. The product’s ability to generate revenue takes the CenterStage. And in case the team thinks it will not generate a return in investment then there are likely chances the gate might stop here for the product.

Stage 3: defines the development 

Now with business plan approval, the real-time manufacturing procedure starts. Customers’ feedback has a lot of value, with small tests carried out for the product at different stages. Here, the development team comes into consideration for estimating the milestones timeline for the procedures in keeping with the project planning, and further updating them regularly with the corresponding changes. Here a product prototype is developed and tested out to check with its quality specifications. And in case there are significant delays in the product development or any issue, the gate remains closed for the next stage entirely.

Stage 4: includes testing and validation

In this stage, the product undergoes several testing and validation procedures. Product acceptance is carried out through multiple customer testing and feedback recorded for further improvements. 

 Premises testing: In this stage, the product is given to the nearby customer, suppliers, and staff people to check its quality for market acceptance.

Field Testing: Now, the product may be given to field professionals or distributed to multiple shops for testing with unknown customers, and their feedback was taken. There can be a target group in those customers to match with product-specific characteristics. This further helps with the product testing process in the Stage-Gate process.

Often, the product again undergoes market testing to match product quality with the customers. Businesses have a complete marketing plan at this stage to move forward and launch the product. Otherwise, product launch may be given some time moving to the next gate.

Stage 5: Fulfils with launch and implementation 

In this last stage, the marketing plan comes into consideration. Here the product comes after the development, testing, and validation stage that also includes parts of consumer testing procedures, advertisement campaigns as well as feedback enhancements. Several measures are taken into planning related to product launching and quantity estimation for selling. Here sales team plans for product distribution, inventory control, and fulfilment to keep delivering the product at the right speed.

Advantages of the Stage-Gate Process

The Stage-Gate process comes with several advantages that make it one of the most creative projects management solutions. Here is a quick list of these.

  • Lowers the production errors throughout the procedures
  • Lowers the erroneous and materials waste
  • Gives more clarity of the projects and their staged development
  • Provide sophisticated communication between internal departments
  • Keeps a sharp focus on the project evaluation
  • Also offers easy communication between 3rd party stakeholders such as partners, customers, and suppliers.


 Stage-Gate is a unique project management concept that considers all the past, present, and future scenarios for taking decisions. Project managers can evaluate the past and present scenarios to make decisions for the future. And with modern technological solutions becoming more and more complex, the stage-gate concept offers a way to keep projects organized and carrying forward. If you wish to learn more about Product Management, our 6-month online PG Certificate Program in Product Management with IIM Indore is the reflect option for you! Check it out today.


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