This stage tests and validates the entire viability of the project: the product itself, the production process, customer acceptance, and the economics of the project. It also begins extensive external validation of the product and project. A number of activities are undertaken at Stage 4:
• In-house product tests: Extended lab tests or alpha tests to check on product quality and product performance under controlled or lab conditions
• User, preference, or field trials of the product: To verify that the product functions under actual use conditions and also to gauge potential customers' reactions to the product and establish purchase intent
• Trial, limited, or pilot production/operations: To test, debug, and prove the production or operations process and to determine more precise production costs and throughputs
• Pretest market, test market, or trial sell: To gauge customer reaction, measure the effectiveness of the launch plan, and determine expected market share and revenues
• Revised business and financial analysis: To check on the continued business and economic viability of the project, based on new and more accurate revenue and cost data
Sometimes Stage 4 yields negative results, and it's back to Stage 3. Gate 5: Go to Launch
This final gate opens the door to full commercialization: market launch and full production or operations start-up. It is the final point at which the project can still be killed. This gate focuses on the quality of the activities in the testing and validation stage and their results. Criteria for passing the gate focus largely on the expected financial return, the project's readiness for launch, and the
A STAGE-GATE® IDEA-TO-LAUNCH FRAMEWORK 307 Go to
Testing and Launch
Validation appropriateness of the launch and operations start-up plans. The operations and market launch plans are reviewed and approved for implementation in Stage 5.
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What you need to know about… Project Management Made Easy! Project management consists of more than just a large building project and can encompass small projects as well. No matter what the size of your project, you need to have some sort of project management. How you manage your project has everything to do with its outcome.