Stage-GateTM process: A widely employed product development process that divides the development effort into distinct time-sequenced stages or phases separated by management decision gates. Product teams must successfully complete a prescribed set of related activities in each stage prior to obtaining management approval to proceed to the next stage of product development. The framework of the Stage-Gate™ process includes work-flow and decision-flow paths and defines the supporting systems and practices necessary to ensure the process’s ongoing smooth operation.

Stage: One group of concurrently-accomplished tasks, with specified outcomes and deliverables, of the overall product development process.

Gate: The decision point, often a meeting, at which a management decision is made to allow the product development project to proceed to the next stage, to recycle back into the current stage to better complete some of the tasks, or to terminate. The number of gates varies by company.

Gatekeepers: The group of managers who serve as advisors, decision-makers and resource allocators in a stage-gate process. They use established criteria to review product development projects at each gate. This multifunctional group is generally most visible at these gate meetings. See: Stakeholders.

CAD: Computer Aided Design, a technology that allows designers and engineers to use computers for their design work. Also termed CAID (industrial design), and CAE (engineering).