Hybrid Gates Approach for R and D Product Portfolio Management

  • Alex Koh

Student thesis: Doctor of Business Administration


Companies today are aggressively finding ways to improve top-line growth by introducing innovative products faster to the market. To achieve both innovation and accelerated rollout, many are turning to techniques such as Stage Gate approaches to improve engineering and marketing collaborations to clarify short term resource allocations (day to day plan with employee assignment). While Stage Gate approaches have been shown to result in better project coordination and faster time to market by doing projects right, research also indicates the need to ensure alignment to company strategy by doing the right projects within the allocated annual budget through medium term (rough cut capacity plan with employee requirements) and long term resource allocations (business / strategic plan with funding requirements). Today, such medium to long term resource allocation methodologies tend to be broadly consolidated under Research and Development (R&D) product portfolio management. We argue that there is value in a philosophical change in viewing R&D product portfolio management from the context of (1.) long and medium term resource allocation phases separately, (2.) focusing on the overlapping regions between long and medium term and between medium and short term resource allocation phases and (3.) the evolving resource allocation perspective (monetary to headcount to skillset) through these phases. Cooper et al note that for R&D product portfolio management and the Stage Gate process to work together, one can expect one of two scenarios - a gates dominated approach (where the prioritization and resource decisions are made at short term focused Stage Gates) or a portfolio reviews dominated approach (where the prioritization and resource decisions are made at the long term focused portfolio reviews). We propose that with appropriate focus given to the medium term phase, a third approach that we call a Hybrid Gates approach can exist in a "gates dominated" environment. A case study on Freescale Semiconductor was used as an empirical inquiry to gain deeper understanding on the perceived value of this approach within a real-life context. Triangulating between structured surveys, unstructured surveys, and focused interviews; we were able to show perceived value to the organization in the following areas: (1.) Enhancing the understanding of decision maker's decision and solution spaces, (2.) Clarifying strategic expressions and "stress testing" new strategies, (3.) Improving horizontal and vertical communication within the organization and (4.) Aiding in objectivity in R&D investment allocation. Furthermore, we were able to conceptually show how this approach retains the advantages of the gates dominated and portfolio dominated approaches while minimizing their respective weaknesses. This research is novel and unique as we have not found any research literature that focuses on a Hybrid Gates approach perspective or studies where the implementation of MO-ZOLP is: (1.) this large in scale and (2.) designed specifically to support a Stage Gate dominated environment. We believe that this research contributes to the practising educator and researcher by providing them with an alternative approach on R&D project portfolio management in complex organizations that are using a Stage Gate process. We also believe that this research is valuable to the practitioner by providing them with a practical process and methodology in which change management for such activities can be achieved. In addition, we assessed the on-going value added to the organization, thus linking theory to practice and finally, to outcome.
Date of Award1 Aug 2012
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • The University of Manchester
SupervisorJian-Bo Yang (Supervisor) & Dong Xu (Supervisor)


  • Multi Criteria Decision Analysis
  • Multiple Objective Zero One Linear Programming
  • Rough Cut Capacity Analysis
  • Resource Management
  • R and D Product Portfolio Management
  • Portfolio Management
  • Project Management
  • Stage Gate

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