ACTEGA: An Innovation Culture Change

As one of the world’s best-known specialty coating, sealant, printing ink and adhesive manufacturers, ACTEGA (part of the ALTANA group of companies) is dedicated to product innovation. For the company’s R&D leadership, innovation has long been a top priority. But gaining visibility to the true costs and risks of innovation has proved difficult. One of four global business segments in the ALTANA Group, ACTEGA and its sister companies ECKART, BYK and ELANTAS operate largely independently.

Over the last decade, ACTEGA has grown through acquisitions, which has created inefficiency in the innovation process. With different goals and different ways of evaluating projects, a single, consistent process seemed out of reach.

A lack of collaboration across business units also hampered the innovation process; success for ACTEGA depends on a consistent, yet nimble approach to projects. Moreover, ACTEGA had trouble realigning priorities due to a reactive approach to customer needs. The concern wasn’t about how many innovation projects the company launched; it was the fact that ACTEGA had difficulty saying “no” to projects that weren’t delivering results.

Essentially, ACTEGA needed to create a new culture focused on innovation. They turned to Sopheon for help.

The Needs

  • Create a unified process for product innovation throughout ACTEGA
  • Insert agile methodologies into the Stage-Gate® process
  • Collaborate and agree on success metrics and decision making
  • Cancel or re-calibrate projects that are not delivering results

The Challenges

  • Lack of strategic alignment and team visibility across business units
  • Lack of governance for innovation, project and portfolio management
  • Too many projects with no or little value contribution
  • Inconsistent and siloed goals, processes and measurement standards
  • Lack of prioritization and efficient resource allocation

How Sopheon Helped

A new CTO for ACTEGA in North America brought Sopheon to the table, as he had used Accolade in a past position. Executive leadership bought in immediately and went to work collaborating with Sopheon to improve the company’s innovation process.

Beginning with portfolio management, ACTEGA harnessed Accolade Express content out-of-the-box to begin improving goal setting, reporting and portfolio decisioning. Using best practice templates included with Accolade Express, ACTEGA created a solid foundation and didn’t have to build a new process from scratch.

Configurability was another key value that Accolade brought to ACTEGA. Where the company had been using simple spreadsheets handed down from corporate leaders, Accolade allowed ACTEGA to standardize project evaluation, budget justification and other functions across the innovation continuum.

Additionally, Accolade helped ACTEGA create and execute a new, more data-driven process for innovation project decisioning. No longer would the company stretch out failing product initiatives due to a lack of visibility to insights and simplified collaboration. After implementing Accolade, the company began rejecting 30-35 percent of all projects coming through the innovation process. This enabled ACTEGA to pour more resources into projects that deliver more value. Prior to working with Sopheon, the project rejection rate was zero.


Working together with ACTEGA, Sopheon helped design and implement:

  • Process and tool standardization, simplification and streamlining
  • Resource planning and optimization tools and practices
  • Enhanced metrics and reporting designed for quick project decisioning
  • A repository of information, best practices and standardized templates
  • A new cultural imperative for ACTEGA, with innovation at the fore

“My biggest surprise with Accolade was its flexibility. At first, we thought we would only use it for product development, but we found so many other uses. We’re looking at new business development, technology transfers and technology investigations through the lens of innovation process management using Accolade. This is where we are going and Sopheon has helped us solve many of the problems that held us back from being truly innovative.”

Tristian van Vuuren, Former Head of Research and Development, ACTEGA North America

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