Implementing Stage-Gate: 5 key elements

Starting with an overview of the process and of 5 key elements that can make or break a Stage-Gate method process project.

In this series, we have looked at the principles, benefits, drawbacks and situations where Stage-Gate® works well. We will now focus on the implementation of Stage-Gate, starting with an overview of the process and of 5 key elements that can make or break a Stage-Gate method process project.

So you’ve read all about Stage-Gate, maybe you’ve spoken to a few fellow managers who have experience in using the methodology, and you’re increasingly convinced that Stage-Gate could help you achieve your project management objectives. But how exactly do you go about implementing Stage-Gate in your organization or your department?

If you’ve ever worked on a process transformation project, then the most common Stage-Gate implementation structure will look very familiar:

  1. Define the requirements for your Stage-Gate process
  2. Design your Stage-Gate process in detail
  3. Implement!

Throughout these steps, 5 key ideas keep coming up over and over again as a major influence on the success (or failure) of a Stage-Gate implementation project:

  1. Senior Management commitment is essential.
    By providing the weight necessary to expedite tasks (and protecting the task force from competing needs) and by demonstrating that they actively use the newly implemented process (and the information that comes from it), they broadcast the importance of the initiative to the rest of the organization.
  2. Training, training, training.
    (of the Stage-Gate task force, of Senior Management, of stakeholders, of the project managers…)
  3. All stakeholders must have a voice in crafting the system.
    The different perspectives will help ensure that the process actually fits the organization, while the feeling that each person had a hand in the process will facilitate adoption.
  4. Some people are going to be unhappy.
    Like any process, Stage-Gate introduces constraints, and constraints sometimes chafe, especially if there weren’t any before. But it is a small price to pay to reap the benefits of a Stage-Gate process.
  5. Implementing Stage-Gate method is not easy: it requires commitment, a lot of time and energy.

“But recognize at the outset that the design and implementation of a world class Stage Gate New Product process is certainly no easy task.”

Robert G. Cooper – Winning at New Products – 5th edition 2017

Stage-Gate® is a registered trademark of Stage-Gate Inc.