In retrospect, I can think of many aspects of my life that would have benefited from a feasibility study.
For example, there are relationships I might have steered clear of were an algorithm to tell me it would not work out. Shoes I would never have bought, had I known the pain they’d bring me while traveling. Unfortunately for humans, the only feasibility studies we have regarding real life is experience. We have to leave our algorithms and data for the workplace.
What is a feasibility study?
A feasibility study consists of research conducted prior to the approval of a project. This study helps determine whether a project is viable by looking at cost, resource requirements, return on investment, and more. Project managers (PMs) have better luck. This step in the project life cycle is beneficial in that it can help you determine the likelihood of success before you’ve spent your resources on a potential lost cause.
Let’s talk about the elements that go into a feasibility study so you can have an idea of the success of a project before beginning.
If you'd like to jump ahead to varying elements, utilize the links below:
Feasibility studies take all factors of a project into account in order to determine the likelihood of a team achieving their goals successfully. Is the project cost-efficient? Will the current state of the economy allow for success? Does it make sense to pursue this venture at this particular time?
This type of study assesses whether your proposed project or strategy is a necessary and practical solution. It does so by asking all of these questions and more.
Feasibility studies are conducted before a project is started. This is a preliminary study that is conducted in the ideation stage of the project life cycle, but after the initial business case has been submitted. In order to conduct a feasibility study, you’ll need to carry out the following steps.
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Executive summary and description
Start your feasibility study by defining the project and outlining what you aim to achieve. What are the deliverables? If you’re trying to prove the feasibility of an entire business, outline what that business aims to achieve.
Depending on where your company puts the feasibility study in the project life cycle, it’s possible your project sponsors are seeing other feasibility studies and choosing between various ideas for execution. By providing a clear description of your project or proposed solution, you’re increasing the chances that stakeholders will choose your course of action.
Executive summaries are often written last, after all research has been conducted. This allows anyone writing the executive summary to do so with all information in mind.
Preliminary study or business analysis
This step is perhaps the most important aspect of a feasibility study, wherein participants do some preliminary research to determine if it’s feasible that the project will be feasible. This is a shorter version of the cost, risk, and market analysis that will be expanded upon further on.
For example, say you’re wanting to put on a music festival. (Cough cough, Fyre Fest.) A quick look into the cost of renting venues and artists will help you determine if the idea is anywhere within your budget.
Cost evaluation and projected income
Although you looked into cost in the preliminary analysis, this is the part in the feasibility study where you determine specific numbers. What will the resources cost? What will the labor cost?
Additionally, what are you expecting to make back from this venture? If we’re going with the music festival example, you’d want to look at the success of other music festivals nearby and discover if they were able to profit in their first year.
Researching the industry and similar projects will help you determine projected income, as well as understand the true cost of the project you hope to undertake.
Market assessment or survey
In this part of the feasibility study, you further research the market you’re hoping to break into. Who are your competitors? What could you provide that others don’t? Is there enough need in your proposed communities for your business to succeed?
In this section of the study, you’re essentially asking, “Can I make this work?” Are the resources this project or endeavor require possible for me to access and afford?
For example, a music festival would require stages for performers. Do you have the space for those stages? Do you have the money for those stages, or the expertise to set them up?
Regarding technical feasibility, you’ll want to research the resources and labor required, as well as necessary distribution tactics.
Organizational structure and scheduling
This part of the study will differ depending on what you’re proposing.
If the study is regarding a new project by an existing business, the organizational structure will determine who is working on the project and what the/their roles will be.
If the study is determining the feasibility of a new organization altogether, then this section will serve to outline the business’s corporate structure.
Either way, a potential schedule, complete with project milestones, should be included in this part of the study.
Conclusion and decision
In conclusion, does this project seem feasible? As someone who works in project management, you’re expected to be able to look at the detailed analysis of a situation and determine the best way to move forward. If the projected income is much lower than the projected output, this project might not be feasible.
If all systems are a go, however, what’s stopping you?
Find what’s feasible
Ideally, this study has helped you determine whether an idea could become a reality. Not all ideas should head into the marketplace. That’s why Shark Tank was invented: to stop well-meaning people from draining their funds on hopeless ventures.
But as a project manager, or someone working in the project management industry, you have the tools to see what works before you’ve spent your last dollar. With these resources at hand, you have the opportunity to look before you leap.
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Grace Pinegar is a lifelong storyteller with an extensive background in various forms such as acting, journalism, improv, research, and content marketing. She was raised in Texas, educated in Missouri, worked in Chicago, and is now a proud New Yorker. (she/her/hers)