What is Stage-Gate®?

What is Stage-Gate®?

By Jennifer-Leigh Oprihory

Based on the article Perspective: The Stage-Gate® Idea-to-Launch Process

Stage-Gate is a step-wise product-research and development model.

The model dictates that the development of a product is divided into research stages possessing definable achievement targets, and that the pursuit of further stages of product development is contingent upon the satisfaction of the previous stage’s “gates,” or dictates for relative success.

According to the Stage-Gate® model, each stage of a product’s development is aimed at reducing the amount of risk undertaken by the investor (read: the company developing the product) and filling in the blanks about gray areas in the product-development process.

While the amount of risk undertaken by the company investing in product development is intended to decrease through the stages, the level of investment increases as the stages progress.

The Stage-Gate® model emphasizes the idea of team work among members of all parts of an organization.  Rather than depending on one office or department to handle product development and/or R&D, teams from multiple areas of a company join forces to make the product-development process as efficient as possible.  Furthermore, rather than focusing on a single branch of product development, all stages include all aspects of product development.

Within the model, each product-development “stage” consists of three distinct parts:

      • Activity
      • Integrated Analysis
      • Deliverables.


Focuses on activities meant to gather information about the proposed product.

Integrated Analysis:

Consists of just that: an integrated investigation into the aforementioned information-gathering processes.


Consists of pulling out the results of the aforementioned analysis for evaluation in that stage’s “gate.”

A gate is defined as a “Go/Kill decision point,” or a moment at which the deliverables gathered in a given stage satisfy pre-established requirements for further product development.  Gates, which are intended to serve as quality-control measures, are meant to emphasize critical decision making and pre-planning for subsequent stages of product development.

Gates, like stages, are also divided up into three parts:

        • Deliverables
        • Criteria
        • Outputs


Are defined as product strengths or benefits discovered during each stage’s information-gathering processes.


Refers to either a checklist-style set of expectations that a product has no choice but to meet in order for development to continue (“must-meet” criteria) or to a system of scoring projects in which points are accumulated by meeting recommended standards and a satisfactory score total warrants continued product development (“should-meet” criteria).


Refers to the final decision about a product’s fate.  The potential fates include “Go,” “Kill,” “Hold,” or “Recycle.”  If a product is approved to “Go” onto the next stage, then the output includes a list of next steps for product development, a timeline for these steps and a list of resources that can be channeled towards achieving these steps, as well as a list of expectations for the next stage (deliverables) and a deadline for completion of the stage.

If each stage’s Deliverables are determined to be satisfactory according to preset expectations for that leg of product development, then the product-development process proceeds, with the investment into the process getting deeper in each progressive stage.

(Note: *Stage-Gate® is a registered trademark of the Product Development Institute Inc.)

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