Cooper’s Stage Gate process focuses on innovations during project management (Cooper, 2014). This technique divides a project into different stages separated by ‘gates’. These are referred to as the decision points that influence the movement to the next stage. In business organisations, the Stage Gate process is considered important when developing new product lines, making changes to the production processes, or improving the entirety of the firm’s operations. The gates fundamentally determine whether or not to continue with the development project. When the decision is a go, it implies that the project meets the criteria for the next stage. However, if it is a ‘kill’, managers can estimate/decide it is not good enough unsuitable for further development.
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This is the initial stage where preparation for the required action takes place. The management team determines which project to develop according to the business’s current and future goals. Accordingly, the organization’s management brainstorms ideas critical to project development to determine the best developmental approach to take. In this stage, the employees, managers, clients, and suppliers are all involved in the decision-making process. Since this is the first stage, the idea is proposed, and management determines its usefulness in the organization and the consumer market. If it is deemed not good enough/unsuitable, the gate closes at this point. For instance, Microsoft is planning on coming up with and developing a gaming console Xbox by setting a benchmark in the global console gaming arena.
To succeed at planning for the change and the preparation of the required resources for the alterations in the business setting, one has to consider the unique characteristics of an organization and the issues that it is likely to face when transferring to a new stage of its development. For example, a leader of an organization may need to ensure that there are enough financial resources for performing the required actions. Overall, the economic and financial potential of an organization entering a new market has to be studied thoroughly in order to launch the designated change and take a particular niche in the economic environment of a leader’s choice.
This stage involves an evaluation of the product and its associated consumer market. The strengths and weaknesses of the product selected are assessed regarding its value addition for consumers (Cooper, 2014). The management team takes into account the possibility of threats posed by competitors before proceeding with the next stage. As an example, LEGO conducted strategic meetings with management teams and boards to identify the overall goals and directions with necessary resources and consumer demands for the development of innovative products.
The issue of scoping is fraught with several key impediments that a company will have to face at a certain point of change implementation. First, an organization is unlikely to create an accurate tool for gauging the extent of the demand for the selected products or services. Consequently, flaws in the measurement process will inevitably affect a company’s progress. In addition to the changes in demand rates, a firm is likely to encounter numerous rivals with quite impressive competitive advantages, which will make the firm’s chances at succeeding in the market of its choice very slim. Due to imperfections in the existing scoping methods and the difficulties associated with the management of a vast amount of data, a company may fail to perform an accurate assessment.
Once the product is deemed impervious to any impending competition in the market, management draws up a business plan for its production. This is a labour-intensive stage because it includes product definition, creation of a business plan/business plan creation, development of the project’s plan, and review of the product’s feasibility.
Product definition helps to determine the value of the products and customers to the organisation. The information required in this step is obtained from the market through interviews as well as surveys and product trials. The business plan is a document the describes the product and provides information about the legal, safety, and health aspects of the project. The development of the project plan encompasses all the tasks planned to develop the product as well as the people who would carry out these tasks. At this stage, insufficient potential for a turnover means that the gate is closed. A company such as LG has announced plans to partner with telecom provider Sprint to introduce its foremost 5G Smartphone in the U.S.
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Since the stage of business planning is generally considered to be the most difficult one, several large challenges to the management thereof have to be considered. First, a proper strategy of resource allocation is needed for succeeding in business planning. Moreover, a firm will face the need to restructure its current approach toward resource management and reconsider its priorities, placing emphasis on the development of a corporate brand and customer relationships. In the case under analysis, the presence of numerous competitors will imply that LG will have to create an outstanding competitive advantage that will place it in a new niche, thus making the product easily distinguishable among myriads of other brands.
This stage encompasses carrying out the plans for other steps and testing the profitability of the product. Management can conduct surveys and interviews to determine the consumers’ view of the product. The development team, therefore, is tasked with creating timelines, milestones, and importantly evaluation steps when developing the product. An example of product at this stage is Apple’s electric car project, which is currently undergoing research and development by Apple Inc. in the US.
The development stage will also require maintaining constant control over the production process. Since a large number of experts will work on the development of the project, a leader will have to supervise a range of issues and give the undivided attention to each of the emergent concerns. Therefore, the tools for meeting the established quality standards, detecting defects, and supporting interdisciplinary collaboration between the firm’s departments will be needed. The example of Apple, Inc. mentioned above will demand the active cooperation and the ability to keep employees’ performance levels at the highest mark possible so that the end product could keep the organization at the top of the global economy.
Tests and Validation of the Product
At this stage, management assesses the manufacturing process to determine the level of customer acceptance in the market. This stage incorporates near testing, which identifies the production errors and other possible issues that can deter fulfilment of the product development process (Cooper, 2014). The other step is field testing, which evaluates the consumer market through the participants who make contributions as opinions regarding the product. This stage also encompasses market testing to determine whether or not the market will accept the product. As example, Samsung is still undergoing tests and validation with their new mobile phone, Galaxy S11.
Although the testing process of the model is often taken for granted, it represents one of the crucial points of a project. At the testing stage, the flaws of a product or service to be delivered to the end customer are located and corrected. Therefore, rigid supervision and effective control tools have to be incorporated into the fourth stage to ensure that the end product meets the company’s standards for quality. The necessity to meet the set time boundaries and process feedback from the target audience is, perhaps, the greatest challenge that a company may face at the described stage. Thus, tools for data processing have to be upgraded to meet the established criteria.
The product management team activates a suitable marketing strategy when launching the developed product to the market. The product that has passed all the previous stages is ready for launching, hence, the organisation formulates marketing strategies to advertise it to the market (Cooper, 2014). The company’s sales team has the responsibility of overseeing a smooth marketing process to increase the product’s success. An example of a product at this stage is Samsung’s mobile phone, Galaxy S10 which was released in March 2019 and is already available in the telecommunications market for sale.
The launching stage also implies dealing with several key problems. First, it is critical to track down the responses to the provided products or services. Thus, an organization will receive the information needed to improve the product in question and enhance the dialogue with its customers. In addition, the implementation process will have to be followed by the analysis of its effects and the suggestion of the further tools for advancing the company in the selected market. Therefore, research will have to be performed after a project is implemented; thus, one will ensure that a company continues to evolve and improve its services and products.
In conclusion, while developmental challenges and risks are recognized, the Stage-Gate process is fundamental in all product development. This research acknowledges there are challenges that NPD managers experience such as insufficient information during the decision-making processes however this may be avoided by teams working together and uncovering relevant information. In a case such as the mismanagement of data and the failure to utilize all available sources of information, the gates are closed rather than being held open thus, resulting in incomplete product development.
As final statement, to mitigate these challenges, organizational managers are encouraged to obtain more information about what the potential market needs or wants and conduct thorough evaluations to determine the market-ready success rate of a product before closing any gate on a potentially innovative idea.